In the Dog House?

Actually not the dog house, but the dog bed.  The warm weather (mid to high 30’s) mixed in with humidity makes for some changes.  As I don’t have any administrative assistance in the sense that I had in a previous parish (Hilary telling me what appointments were on and taking care of all the Sunday service sheets for two congregations) I find myself this week sitting behind a computer more than I would like to.  This administrative load is not an onerous duty most weeks, as I have my routines that I stick by to make sure I don’t get snowed under.  However, as I plan to take three weeks of holiday I am planning further in advance which means making sure the visiting clergy are well prepared, the volunteers ready, and the presentation built up for Sunday worship (we don’t use any paper for our worship services).  Being in the heat and sticking to the chair and desk are now hazards of the job, which is where the dogs bed comes into action.

My wife found at Aldi or Lidl a cheap cooling mat for the dog.  Apparently this extraordinary mat is non-toxic which is a big plus when it comes to our dog Skippy who still tends to chew up beds.  The blue cooling dog bed turns out not to be at all popular with the dog who viewed it with deep suspicion, preferring to lay motionless on the tile floors as a way of remaining cool.  Today I decided to try out the dog mat at my desk having it migrate under foot so that I’d feel cooler.  Just like a dog which creeps with affection slowly up onto your laps as you sit on the sofa the dog bed has made its way to my chair and it really does work. Whatever magic is inside this blue pad is certainly working.

It is too bad that all of us cannot find relief from the heat.  The river that runs through the village has dried up for the most part, only pools remain at this point downstream and a smell of decaying fish fills the air every so often.  Two little boys were busy with net and bucket taking some of the trout out and carrying them up stream to larger pools of water.  Apparently this is a normal summer occurrence to have the rivers run dry around Freiburg (so far it has happened every year we have lived here), but it still surprises me.  Waterfalls run wild year round in the river behind my parents house in Canada, even with small pools that we can swim in when the weather is warm.  Even when we don’t have the rivers running dry there are certainly other concerns to be aware of when out along the trails.  IMG_20180530_171030#1

In the church we have had, and will continue to have a run on baptisms.  As we do not own the building, rather rent from the German church, the protestant tradition of having a shallow bowl of water on the Lord’s table as a baptism font.  Certainly, not every church is in this situation as I have seen plenty of massive old stone fonts in other churches, but this is not the local experience at least in our church building.  Water is a unique symbol where we can say it can give and take.  Too little water is not good, neither is too much water.  Freiburg may feel dry, but Japan seems to be washed out.  After a hot Sunday baptism service with a church so full of people that there was standing room only I was secretly thinking that a parishioner might do the church equivalent to the sports team prank in which team members pick up the large field side drink cooler and pour it all over the coach after wining the game.  Even though the weather is hot, I still pray that that one child (and others) experienced the refreshing life-giving waters of baptism.

A different perspective – Brussels

Social media and other forms of media are now flooding with reports about terror attacks in Brussels.  Air and train travel has been suspended.  I was invited, along with other Church of England clergy in the Diocese in Europe to travel to either Nice, France, or to Brussels, in Belgium for a special Chrism Mass.  Bishop Robert is in Brussels, and Bishop David is in Nice for the respective worship services.  Chrism Mass is where the bishop blesses the oils that are used in the rite of Baptism, in other words, Christening.

I write this from home in Germany. We have had a number of guests arriving and so it was not convenient for me to make the trip to Brussels for the Chrism Mass and I did discover that I had packed some small containers of holy oil in my boxes that arrived from Canada. I decided a couple of weeks ago, that as much as I would like to visit Brussels and join in the worship, it was not conducive to family plans.  Of course I now wonder where I would be if I had been traveling to Brussels.

Some have reported that there really are no safe places in the world anymore.  It is precisely this reason that it is important to remind ourselves of the need for healing in the world and in our relationships with others.  Chrism and the link with baptism reminds us all of our own death and hope of resurrection in Jesus Christ.  After watching pictures of people fleeing the airport I pray for God’s peace, healing, and a change in  perspective that we might come to live our baptismal calling.

At this moment I pray for those who have been traumatized in these recent events, for those who have died and the family and friends who mourn their loss of life.  In the words of the commission – the sending out of those recently baptized – “Will you acknowledge Christ’s authority over human society, by prayer for the world and its leaders, by defending the weak, and by seeking peace and justice?

With the help of God, I will.”