Monthly Archives: February 2012

38 Days Until Lent: Sold Down The River

Today I went to the daily lectionary page of for some inspiration.  Today’s Old Testament reading was Genesis 37:25-36, the scene in which Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery ‘down the river Nile’ in Egypt.  This struck me as an odd story on which to focus during Lent.  The Gospel reading, Mark 1:29-45 covered the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law, healing of many people who were brought over to her home that evening, and a leper the next morning when he had gone apart from the group to pray.  This continuation of the story of Jesus seemed much more appropriate.

Then I got thinking…

Joseph was very popular with his father and, in the eyes of his brothers, spoiled.  They were all older than he was and all had a right to a place higher in the pecking-order of esteem and inheritance than he should have had.  They were the ones who deserved the attention.  

Imagine now that the role of the older brothers is, in the New Testament, taken by the Scribes and Pharisees of his day.  Jesus, despite all that he had done for people in need, made these people nervous, even jealous.  What did these older brothers do?  They sold Jesus down the river, or up the cross to be more accurate. 

When Joseph was sold, it turned out to be to the benefit of all of Israel.  It had all been part of God’s plan.  Likewise, when Jesus was sent to the cross, through the planning of the Caiaphas and the betrayal by Judas, it was for the benefit of all people.

39 Days Until Easter or 3 Days Until March Break?

Most of us do count-downs to important dates.  There is an app called Twinkle that will keep a count going for all your important dates.  I have it counting down to March Break, family birthdays, Easter, and my retirement (as a sort of joke since it so far in the future).  That distance in the future is what I want to address today.  

I don’t imagine there is anyone who does not start counting down the days as they near vacation time.  We joke that it is bad when you start counting over a month ahead, but is it?  I guess for things like my retirement, which is over 2000 days away, it would appear that I am very unhappy in my job and just can’t wait to get out!  That would be bad!  I do actually like my job, but I have plans for later and I guess that is where the change occurs.  When we count down to something exciting, like a vacation, it is usually less about getting away from something and more looking forward to the change.  When we are looking at some far future plans we may be simultaneously doing our best at our current, and working toward future goals.

In the church calendar we have two long periods of waiting, or counting down, to important events in the Gospel.  We count down the days of Advent ending with the celebration of a birth (40 days of Advent, 40 weeks of pregnancy…coincidence?).  We count down during Lent, looking ahead to the feast of Easter.

No matter how important a countdown is, a shorter one will take temporary precedence if we don’t guard against that.   So March break is in a little over 3 days and that is exciting, but there is little to do in terms of preparing, whereas Easter is 39 days away and there will probably never be enough time to truly prepare ourselves to stand by that empty tomb and accept that Jesus’ great sacrifice and triumph over death was really for us!

40 Days Until Easter/ The glory of these forty days


With forty days left I thought I might take a closer look at some of the hymns in the Presbyterian Church in Canada Book of Praise.  #192 is the hymn The glory of these forty days.  If you don’t have our book of praise handy you can hear this at the above youtube link.

Sung to the minor tune Erhalt Uns, Herr 8888LM this is different from some Lenten music in that it is hangs on to the Glory of Easter while much music can be downright depressing.

41 Days Until Easter

With 41 days to go until we celebrate Easter we may find ourselves wondering where we are supposed to be going.  If Lent is the road to the cross, how are we supposed to know what road to follow?  What if we go off track and end up in the wrong area?

The simple answer, of course, is that our map is to be found in the Bible.  I don’t know about you, but I think I could still end up astray.  Does it matter what part of the Bible we read?  Maybe there are parts that will just confuse us more than we were already confused!

At my church, and I assume at many other Christian churches, members of the congregation are given a booklet with a series of devotional readings for each day of the season.  Similar books often appear during Advent.  If you weren’t at church for the 1st Sunday of Lent today, perhaps you could stop by a church during the week to pick up one of these booklets.  I have found, over the years, that they go a long way in leading me through the maze.



44 Days Until Easter

One of my favourite songs we often sing around easter time is Ev’ry Morning is Easter Morning. I love the way it points beyond the one morning beside the tomb or, in the modern case, with baskets of goodies and easter egg hunts.

Ev’ry morning is Easter morning from now on!
Ev’ry day’s resurrection day, the past is over and gone!

Good-bye guilt, good-bye fear, good riddance! Hello, Lord, Hello, sun!
I am one of the Easter People! My new life has begun!

Ev’ry morning is Easter morning from now on!
Ev’ry day’s resurrection day, the past is over and gone!

Daily news is so bad it seems the Good News seldom gets heard.
Get it straight from the Easter People! God’s in charge spread the word!

Ev’ry morning is Easter morning from now on!
Ev’ry day’s resurrection day, the past is over and gone!

Yesterday I was bored and lonely; But today look and see!
I belong to the Easter People! Life’s exciting to me!

Ev’ry morning is Easter morning from now on!
Ev’ry day’s resurrection day, the past is over and gone!
Ev’ry morning is Easter morning,
Ev’ry morning is Easter morning,
Ev’ry morning is Easter morning,
From now on!

Words & Tune:  Richard K. Avery and Donald S. Marsh, in the Avery and Marsh Song book,
                               ©1967, Hope Publishing Co.

As we journey through the next 44 days we will look again at the life and ministry of Christ as well as reflecting on our own lives and actions in terms of Christ’s example. Don’t forget though, we are some of the Easter people and our new life has already begun!

(If you are not familiar with the Gospel story and the Good News, I recommend you read the book of Matthew in the New testament section of a Bible.)

Enemies/ When we get to know people, they look a lot less like enemies!

Yesterday as I was driving around town to do errands I was listening, as I usually do, to CBC radio. The theme of the show was friends and enemies.  The first bit I heard was talking about “frenemies” those people who are your good friends and yet who can make you feel terrible about yourself.  Later they were talking about enemies.

Do you have enemies?

I thought about this quite a bit through the day.  I have people of whom I’m wary, some people I would prefer not to spend time with, but I really don’t think I have any enemies.

Many would probably think that people should hate their ex-spouses.  Sitting around a lunch table at work the other day the topic of ex-husbands, step-parenting, and shared custody.  There were all kinds of different relationships, but not one of the people expressed hate for anyone.

Later yesterday, again on CBC, I heard writer Daryl Davis being interviewed about his book, Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan.  He and the host, Sook-Yin Lee asked Mr Davis about his meetings, interviews, and in some cases eventual friendships with leaders of the Ku Klux Klan.  The twist in this situation was that the writer was a member of the very group most hated by the KKK, he is an African American!  He said that he decided to conduct this research because everything he had ever read about the issue was written about white people.  He wanted to understand how someone could hate someone they had never met.

The interesting thing is, that I think we are far more likely to hate people we haven’t met than those we have.  If you haven’t met someone, you will only know about your differences and be blind to all that you have in common.

The To Do List As Stress Reliever?

When you think of things you can do to relieve the effects of stress in your life you probably focus on things like hot baths, long walks, calming music etc.  I don’t think many people would think of making a to-do-list as having the potential to relieve their stress.

We are familiar with the seemingly endless list of things that we need to get done.  Even kids in middle school begin to feel the stress of being time-bound.  So much to do and so little time!

If you were to make a list of all that has to be done in the next week it could easily cause more stress.  The idea of the To-Do-List stress reliever is that you start at the beginning of the day you are already in.  Perhaps at 10AM you will sit down and make a list that starts with; get up, shower, get dressed etc.  Having completed the list that takes you to bedtime for that day, you then check off all the things you have already done.  Now looking at the list you are likely to see that you are almost half-way finished with the must-dos and have most of the day left to get to them.  A weight lifts!

Obviously this does not work for everyone, nor on all days.  When it helps, that is great, and when it doesn’t that may give you the encouragement to say no to a few of the things which are adding to your list.  Eliminate some of the things that are priorities for other people, rather than yours.

What else can you do about your stress?  You can pray.  You can pray for help to finish all your tasks or you can pray for help in discerning what is truly vital and what can be left to wait. 

How Many People Live In Your World?

As I was driving to take supper to my friend who is in a nursing home I was listening to The Message on XM Radio.  They played a song called My Own Little World by Matthew West.  Singing along it brought me to reflect on how often my world is underpopulated.  When the news is uncomfortable or disheartening, I will turn it off and I rarely give until it hurts.  Read through the lyrics below, reflect on them and listen for God’s urging as you realize opportunities you have to let others into your world today.

In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry or always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket shoes on my feet
In my own little world
Population me
I try to stay awake through the Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate but I never give ’til it hurts
and I turn off the news when I don’t like what I see
it’s easy to do
when it’spopulation me
What if there’s a bigger picture
what if I’m missing out
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world
Stopped at the red light, looked out my window
Outside the car, saw a sign, said “Help this homeless widow”
Just above this sign was the face of a human
I thought to myself, “God, what have I been doing?
“So I rolled down my window and I looked her in the eye
Oh how many times have I just passed her by
I gave her some money then I drove on through
in my own little world there’s
Population two
What if there’s a bigger picture
what if I’m missing out
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world
Start breaking my heart for what breaks Yours
give me open hands and open doors
put Your light in my eyes and let me see
that my own little world is not about me

Copied from 

You can listen to this with lyric slides at the following link. 

A Sunny Day

On a sunny day everything looks brighter right? The sky is clear, the colours more vibrant, even the past and the future look more bright.

On a sunny day we see more clearly. We see the people who are normally invisible, we see the crumbling and decay of buildings and lives, we see the poverty and violence in the world.

Many people would prefer to be in the dark!