Groundhog’s Day Liturgy

From this morning’s staff worship at CCS:

Hymn: All Creatures of Our God (Voices United #217)
All creatures of our God, come sing,
with hoof and scale and fur and wing:
Hallelujah, hallelujah!
Bright burning sun with golden beam,
soft shining moon with silver gleam,
sing praises, sing praises,
hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

Enter the caves of the rocks
and the holes of the ground
from the fearful glory of God’s majesty
when God rises to shake the earth.
On that day people will throw to the groundhogs
their idols of silver and gold. (Isa 2:19-20)

Justice is far from us,
and righteousness does not reach us.
We wait for light, and lo! there is darkness;
for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. (Isa 59:9)

At that time the great protector of the people, will arise.
Everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered.
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake.
Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens. (Dan 12:1-3)

For once you were shadows,
But now in God you are light.
Live as children of light.
“Sleepers, awake!
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph 5:8&14)

My beloved spoke and said to me,
 “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:10-12)

Reflection: How to you keep your spirit alive in the waiting time?

Good God Almighty, it’s cold!
It’s a miracle that we survive at all.
Don’t let our hearts be frozen.
Make us conscious in the cold
of those who shiver for want of kindness, justice and compassion.

Groundhog of All Being,
Wake us from our hibernation
at least long enough to recognize the world around.
Let us not shirk from our shadows,
but rather face the unresolved.
Let us confront those things that need changing
and accept the things that simply are.
Don’t let us rush back to sleep prematurely.

O you who descended into the earth,
and rose again with the dawn,
Open our eyes to light,
even the cold crisp light of winter.
Let it awaken in us irrational hope,
the unreasonable possibility of spring in the depth of winter,
the possibility of kindness in a world desperate for warmth.

God of the meantime,
Let us huddle together while we wait,
let us nestle and dream, reach out to each other
and comfort each other in the warmth of our prayers.

(Prayer cycles and prayers for specific people)

From deep inside our burrows
we call out for you.
Hear our chirps and growls and snores,
and in your love answer.

Hymn: Joy Comes With the Dawn (Voices United #166) 

Where Do They Go From Here?

The Centre for Christian Studies is about preparing women and men for ministry.  You may be curious where students end up after they graduate.  In the last decade over seventy CCS grads have entered into a variety of forms of diaconal ministry.

  • Many serve in rural congregations (34).
  • A number minister in urban teams (16).
  • Some have positions in community outreach ministry (3).
  • A few work with First Nations communities (3).
  • Two or three have primary responsibility in youth ministry.
  • Two or three are working as Conference staff.
  • One is pursuing further academic studies.

Hear about the work of some our grads from the class of 2008 have been up to!

Kathy Douglas, Youth Minister
Huron-Perth Presbytery, Blyth, ON

I have been in the full time position of Presbytery Youth Minister for over 2 years now.  I could not have envisioned a more perfect diaconal fit for me.  My work seems generally to divide into three categories.  I work directly with youth in programming and spiritual development.  I participate as a member and resource for several community agencies; this work often helps to foster bridges between church and local community.  Finally, I support the 60 plus congregations in the presbytery, through worship services, confirmation classes, youth leaders support events, local camp work and resource consultations.
On a regular basis, I am creating, preparing, facilitating and evaluating by involving and listening to both adults and youth who help me to plan my work.  Thanks, to CCS, for the fantastic ‘teaching /sharing/ encouraging’ that prepared me for this work.

Keith Simmonds, Team Minister
Communities in Faith, Trail, BC

In 2009, I was placed in a team ministry with a four point pastoral charge in the Kootenays of British Columbia.  Team ministry in a four point pastoral charge, in changing times demands all of the requirements of ‘traditional ministry’ (worship design and leadership; sacramental ministry and pastoral care), and a grounding in: social systems; interpersonal dynamics; learning styles; group facilitation; workshop design; community organizing and making space for other voices to be heard.  Fortunately, I went to CCS where I was grounded in the basics of all of the above, and confirmed in the blessings of my own experience.

Marilyn Shaw, Community Minister
Kitchener, Ontario

I minister in a Lutheran and United church partnership outreach ministry in downtown Kitchener. I was settled in the position I held prior to graduating from CCS.
My CCS experience enables me to deepen how I minister with people through the experiential learning style which I use especially in my roles of advocacy and education. Working collaboratively with other students, mentors, facilitators etc strengthened my sense of who I am and the gifts I bring to ministry and how I can use them as I journey with and empower others.

Tracy Fairfield, Christian Education Minister
Delta, BC

CCS prepared me extensively for team ministry and I am grateful for that.  After graduation, I moved from Ottawa to rural Saskatchewan where I worked in team ministry helping to lead pastoral ministry: preaching about twice a month, sharing children’s times as well as pastoral care, weddings, baptisms, funerals and weddings. I also discovered my inner polity geek!  I became involved in presbytery and national committees. I’ve also been studying part time to finish my MA with the University of Winnipeg.  I’ve managed to find time to meet my life partner and then relocate to be with her and her boys in Delta, BC. I am currently working in another team ministry doing Christian Education.

If you are thinking about ministry, the Leadership Development Module may be the place to explore your interest.  Or maybe you know someone with gifts for ministry.  Give them a tap on the shoulder.

Food for Thought

Today after our staff meeting we all sat down to enjoy a lunch provided by an anonymous donor. This has happened a number of times before around the Christmas season – the folks at Food For Thought (a local catering company) phone us up to tell us that someone has donated a lunch to the staff at CCS and when would we like it?

It was “food for thought” in a number of ways. It got us thinking about generosity and gratitude and how nice it is just to know that someone’s thinking about you. And in our prayers at morning worship, as well as thinking of friends and community-members who are struggling, we remembered with thanks all the people who supported CCS in various ways over the past year. This week Ted is doing some preparatory work for the multi-faith component in the Spring Learning Circle by making connections with some of the faith communities our students will be visiting, and so was reflecting on the gift of hospitality he receives when he visits various temples and houses of worship, and trying to be a gracious guest.

The lunch was lovely, by the way. And it feels like a good way to begin a new year – with food and friends and gratitude.

Christmas Wedding Cake

This story was passed  on to us by one of our students, Kimiko Karpoff.  It is a re-write of one of her grandmother’s memories from her time in Oyen, Alberta in the early 1940s.  Kimiko’s grandmother, Florence Karpoff, was a deaconess, and later a minister’s wife.  But, as Kimiko says, “her deaconess-ness never really left her.”  Enjoy.

Florence carefully wrapped up the Christmas cake.  She had saved pennies and scraped together enough to purchase precious sugar, fruit and flour to make the cakes.  It was hard during the war.  The minister couldn’t expect to get paid if everyone else in town was just getting by.  Even if they had money, supplies and staples weren’t easy
to get.
 Her children gathered around her legs, eyes round, wanting to eat the cake now but knowing that if they waited it would be even better at Christmas.
  Florence was not surprised to hear a knock at the door; the minister’s family often had callers.  The children followed as she ran to answer it.
 “Is the minister home?”
 An elderly couple stood at the door, wrapped against the November cold.  They were not locals. 
 “He’s not in at the moment, but will be home shortly.  You’re welcome to come in.”
 With her guests seated in the living room, Florence turned back toward the kitchen when she noticed little Jimmy had already climbed onto the gentleman’s lap.  Smiling, he waived away her protest.
 “I like children,” he said.  So Jimmy sat and Florence sat and John, Polly and Teena gathered on the floor around them. And a story unfolded before their eyes.
 Harry and Mary had come to be married by the minister.
 Mary had been Harry’s housekeeper for close
to 40 years.  She was the widow of Harry’s friend Bill, an old school mate from his childhood in Minnesota. 
 Harry’s family had a pioneer place in the 1870’s.  His father was a bum and the fighting household was ruled by his Mother.  She had no time to show her boys affection.  But he remembered always the gentleness he felt from Bill’s mother whenever he went home with Bill.

 Harry had run away to Canada when he was in his mid-teens and had eventually homesteaded near Empress Saskatchewan.  He’d gone back to Minnesota one winter in time to act as Bill’s best man when he married Mary. 
 Over the next five years, luck had fallen hard on Bill.  He lost his farm and had had to work out as hired help.  He and Mary and their two girls lived in a shack on the farmer’s land.  Harry’s homestead, on the other hand, prospered, and he found time to make another trip south to visit his old friend whom he found leading a bleak existence with his family.  Mary was expecting another child in the spring.
 During Harry’s visit, Bill was gored by the farmer’s bull and died.
 At the funeral, Harry listened to conversation of the women preparing the coffee.  The farmer would need new help and would need to have his shack back.  Where would Mary go? they wondered.  She had no family.
 As neigbours left the funeral gathering, Harry stayed.  He wanted to know, was it true, did Mary have to move?  “Yes,” Mary confirmed, “the farmer needs his shed.”
 “Well, I need a housekeeper,” Harry decided right then.  “Come home with me.”
 The next day Harry loaded Mary and the girls and their few possessions into his sleigh and brought them back home to his homestead.
 So in a sense, Bill’s family became Harry’s family.  He set Mary and the girls up in the living room.  It had never had any furniture anyway.  She took over the housekeeping and all waited for the spring baby, a third girl.  Over the next few years Harry added a lean-to onto the house.  Now the girls had a room and so did his hired man. The girls grew up, went to school. Mary had refused to accept wages from Harry having felt that she could expect no more than that he feed the four of them.
 Now, like many farm women, she laid the breakfast table at night — turning upside down the big soup plates ready for oatmeal. Mary soon found that on the first of each month she would find bills under her plate. Harry would say of the money, “Oh, go buy something.” As the girls grew older their plates began to give silver, and then bills. When the girls finished high school Harry sent them to university, one into nursing. “I could afford to,” Harry said.
 When the oldest daughter shared the news that she was marrying a young doctor, Harry thought the old house too shabby for a big wedding. He built a new house and the hired man moved into the old one with his family.
 And so the years went on. Each daughter was married with Harry giving away the bride. Each of Mary’s grandchildren had been welcomed.
 Last fall Mary’s eldest daughter and her doctor husband had come home to visit. She embraced her mother and then stood back to look at her. “Mother, what is the matter? Are you sick?” Mary was evasive. She was really just tired, she said. “You know, since the war we’ve taken on another hired man. They’re both older so it takes two to do the work of one. But it makes three men to cook for and wash for and many things are hard to get,” and on she went.
 For the first time Harry looked at Mary and saw a frail, white-haired woman. He suddenly realized that he, too, was a white-haired old man. Before the week was out he went to town and returned with a “girl” to help out.
 This spurred a question among the neighbours. “Does Harry need a housekeeper to help out his housekeeper now?” When this filtered back to Mary she was mortified. She announced that she better try to find a place in the little nearby town. Perhaps the girls could give her a bit of money to help out.
 Harry had another idea. “Let’s get married, Mary. Frankly, after forty years, home wouldn’t be home without you.” After much discussion, Mary agreed. They had their license and here they were.
 Just then, Florence’s husband Ted, the minister, arrived. 
 “I’ll go next door and get Claira,” Florence said. “She can act with me as one of the witnesses. Come,” she said to the children, thinking to take them across the road with her. Harry, smiling at his new friend Jimmy said “Let them stay.”
 And so the wedding proceeded. When the ceremony was over, Ted announced, “You may now kiss the bride.” Harry leaned down and kissed Mary heartily. Beaming at the minister’s family gathered around he said, “That’s the first time I ever kissed her.” Mary smiled. “That’s not true,” she said. “You kissed me on the day I married Bill.” “That would only have been a peck, not a real kiss like this,” he said and kissed her again.
 Florence slipped out of the room to put on coffee. On the counter were the cakes she had just wrapped for Christmas. When she carried the plate in, Mary knew exactly what she’d done and protested. But Christmas cake was now wedding cake and the children got their wish of not waiting to Christmas to taste it.
 As Mary and Harry collected their coats and prepared to leave, Florence wrapped up the rest of the cake and slipped it into Mary’s hands. Mary smiled. “Now I’ll have a piece of wedding cake to share with our girls when we go into Saskatoon next week to tell them,” she said. The bill Harry pressed into Ted’s hand was enough to pay for  supplies for several Christmas cakes. If they could get the sugar.

Advent Candle Prayers

Here are some advent candle prayers I wrote a number of years ago. They won’t be much use for this year but maybe some other time.

Advent 1 – Hope

Luke 1: 35-38, Matthew 1:20-23, Luke 1: 46-55, Luke 1: 76-79

Advent is a time of waiting.
With anticipation, we await the coming birth.
With expectation, we await a coming fulfilment of justice and compassion.
With hope, we await the coming of Emmanuel; God with us.

Advent is a time of preparation.
With anticipation, we prepare ourselves for re-birth and renewal.
With expectation, we prepare for the promise of peace on earth.
With hope, we prepare to be God’s incarnate love for the world.

During this cold time of the year,
the daylight grows shorter.
We light this candle as a sign of hope.
The sun will return.

During this festive time of the year,
we are aware that many, in this season, are lost and lonely.
We light this candle as a sign of hope.
Despair is not the final word.

During this joyous time of the year,
we are aware that much, in our world, is broken.
We light this candle as a sign of hope.
The promise of Christmas will not be broken.

(lighting of the first Advent candle)

Advent 2 – Peace
Luke 1: 12-13, Luke 1: 76-79, Luke 1: 26-30, Luke 2: 13-14

We light this candle remembering the song of the angels.
Glory to God…
We light this candle knowing there is not peace in our world.
…and on earth peace.
We light this candle hoping some day there will be peace.
Glory to God…
We light this candle knowing in many homes there is not safety.
…and on earth peace.
We light this candle hoping for a safe space for everyone.
Glory to God…
We light this candle committing ourselves to peace-creating,
to justice-making,
and shaping a world that is filled with love.
Glory to God and on earth peace.

(lighting of the second Advent candle)

Advent 3 – Joy
Luke 1:13-14, Luke 1: 39-44, Matthew 2: 9-10, Luke 2: 8-11

With music and song,
with laughter and mirth,
with movement and dance,
Let us celebrate the source of joy,
the spirit of life who will be born in our midst.

With stillness and prayer,
with wisdom and depth,
with passion and heart,
Let us celebrate the source of joy,
the spirit of life who will be born in our midst.

With action and care,
with service and love,
with respect and grace,
Let us celebrate the source of joy,
the spirit of life who will be born in our midst.

In the midst of planning and rushing,
in the midst of shopping and feasting,
in the midst of worshipping and candle-lighting,
Let us celebrate the source of joy,
the spirit of life who will be born in our midst.

(lighting of the third Advent candle)

Advent 4 – Love
Luke 1:26-28, Matthew 1: 20-23, Matthew 2: 11, Luke 2: 15-20

In the song of the angels: Mystery.
In the awe of the shepherds: Wonder.
In the birth of the child: Grace.
We light this candle remembering the love of God.

In the voice of concern: Compassion.
In the hand of friendship: Support.
In the relationship of trust: Care.
We light this candle remembering the love incarnate in others.

In the cry of the oppressed: Liberation.
In the tears of the vulnerable: Justice.
In the rage of the violated: Peace.
We light this candle remembering the love needed in the world.

We light this candle remembering we are called to love God.
We light this candle remembering we are called to love our neighbour.

(lighting of the fourth Advent candle)

Thanksgiving for Revelation

Thanksgiving for Revelation

Creator God
genesis of the universe
in midnight northern lights
in the brooks and birds
in meadow=s hush
in rainbow colour
You come moving over the face of creation.

Divine Star maker
source of being
in beauty
in nature
in wonder
You come as the one who has created and is creating.

Divine Artist
in Bach=s variations and Van Gogh=s swirling fields
in Michelangelo=s sculpture and McDade=s passionate music
in Hildegarde= s mystic poetry and Haverluck=s outrageous angels,
You open our senses.

Holy name
in music and song
in craft and picture
in dance and movement
You paint your presence on our souls.

God of scripture
of wrestling angels
of praising psalmists
of raging prophets
You offer insight and wisdom.

God of Abraham and Sarah
God of Moses and Miriam
God of Mary and Peter
in parable, poetry and prose
in wisdom and sacred story
in epistle and gospel
You reveal yourself like an open book.

God of exodus liberation
in slavery overturned
in civil rights addressed
in women empowered
in lives affirmed
You are incarnate in the seeking of justice and the resisting of evil.

God of justice
in wrongs redressed
in powers confronted
in freedoms gained
You reveal yourself loving and serving others.

Jesus of Nazareth
in lessons taught
in healing extended
in tables shared
in tables turned
You reveal life abundant.

God of cradle, cross and tomb
in stable birth
in unjust crucifixion
in Easter hope
In life and death and life beyond death, You are with us.

Holy friend
in hands held
shoulders cried upon
laughter shared
You enter into relationship with us.

God of love
in warmth and support
in challenge and expectation
in affection and intimacy
You reveal that we are not alone.

God of love
in a moment of knowing
in a flash of insight
in a grounding deep
You are there.
You are there.
You are there.

God of
       Ellen and Arlene,
       Beth, Barbara, and Bob
       Carol and Kimberley,
         Kelley and Kristin
       Marcie, Michelle, and Mark,
       Alice and Alice,
       gwen and Vicki,
       Thérèse, Tracy and Ted
         Jackie and Jacqueline and Jamie,
in seasons of self-worth when we know our value and giftedness
in struggles for conversion and transformation when we long for newness of life
in times of self-acceptance when we dare to embrace forgiveness
You are there.
You are there.
You are there.

Litany from Educational Ministry Year Learning Circle

Litany for Christian Education
Friday morning, Week One
Introduction to Educational Ministry
Fiery, cloudy pillar, you guide our lives.
As learners and leaders,
may we remember our story of community and liberation.
God of the prophets, you demand of us justice.
As teachers and ministers,
may we embody our call and covenant.
Holy Wisdom, you centre us in wholeness.
As educators and students,
may we discern our direction and purpose.
Christ of the parables, you teach with conviction and insight,
As people of passion and perspective,
may we learn and grow.
Spirit of holiness, you direct us toward compassion and wholeness.
As church and community,
may we embody and inspire faith.
Divine future, you sustain us with vision and promise,
as the people of today and tomorrow,
may we honour our roots and soar with our wings.
O God, we give thanks for the opportunities to learn and grow.
We are grateful that Christian Education has taken place for us:
in so many settings, so many venues, with so many varied peoples,
with mind and heart,
with body and soul,
in groups and alone,
in mass audiences and one on one,
in studies and discussion,
on retreat and on the streets,
in youth groups,
in church school,
in bible study,
with panels, videos, and guest speakers,
at camp and at home,
on service projects and work experiences,
in field placements and global tours,
in class rooms and libraries,
with toddlers and teens, with seniors and middle-agers,
with women and men, using curriculum and resources, journals and text books,
in crisis and calm, in quiet gentleness, in animated extroversion,
in prayer and in song, in drama and dance, with computers and crafts,
in research and scholarship, in experience and emotions, in structured process and in spontaneous insight.
Fiery, cloudy pillar, you guide our lives.
As learners and leaders,
may we remember our story of community and liberation.
God of the prophets, you demand of us justice.
As teachers and ministers,
may we embody our call and covenant.
Holy Wisdom, you centre us in wholeness.
As educators and students,
may we discern our direction and purpose.
Christ of the parables, you teach with conviction and insight,
As people of passion and perspective,
may we learn and grow.
Spirit of holiness, you direct us toward compassion and wholeness.
As church and community,
may we embody and inspire faith.
Divine future, you sustain us with vision and promise,
as the people of today and tomorrow,
may we honour our roots and soar with our wings.

Prayers for Wednesday, October 6

From staff worship:

Oh most blessed light, fill the innermost hearts of your faithful.
Without your power, nothing in in humans, nothing innocent.
Clean what is dirty, water what is dry, heal what is wounded.
Bend what is rigid, heat what is cold, lead what has gone astray.

(From the Latin, 13th Century)
O lux beatissima, reple cordis intima tuorum fidelium.
Sine tuo numine, nihil est in homine, nihil est innoxium.
Lava quod est sordidum, riga quod est aridum, sana quod est saucium.
Flecte quod est rigidum, fove quod est frigidum, rege quod est devium.

Jesus, you are the Great Questioner.
Keep our questions alive;
That we may always be seekers rather than settlers.
Guard us well fromt the sin of settling in
With our answers hugged to our breasts.
Make us a wondering, farsighted, questioning, restless people.
And give us the feet of pilgrims on the journey unfinished.

(Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB)

Prayer for September 15

In the midst
of routine and rest
of sabbath and sunsets
of travel and time off
of contemplation and calm

In the complex mix of our days
of agendas and appointments
of time zones and to do lists
of stress and schedules

we gather to do the work of this organization.

In the complicated muddle
of a world of floods and factions,
yet beauty and bounty,
of a city of food insecurity and housing shortage,
yet creativity and community
of a neighbourhood of gang shootings and crack houses,
yet tenacity and spirit.

May we see with hope.
May we speak with courage.
May we feel with compassion.

As we gather from the diversity of our days,
from the responsibilities: overwhelming and purposeful
from the relationships: demanding and delightful
from the encounters: fleeting and meaningful
from the habits: distracting and prayerful
from the structures: limiting and useful
from the movements: rushing and wonderful

May we be a grounded people
able to attend to this work with wisdom and discernment.
May we be a caring people
able to honour one another with respect and grace.
May we be a grateful people
able to embrace this moment with blessing and love.

Welcome to CCS Blog

I’m looking at a large black and white photo that sits on the floor of my office, leaning against the wall.  It shows a small group of First Nations men and women, old and young, clustered together in prayer.  They are leaned into each other.  Some kneel, some sit.  Some stand, reaching out to lay their hands on the shoulders of those nearby.  This is a community, no question.  Their eyes are closed tight.  The intensity of their prayer is obvious.  With the birch trees in the background I can almost hear the sounds of the forest.  This photo says so much about being connected and seeking connection.

I hung this photo on the wall of my office a couple of months ago.  I didn’t have a frame handy, so I taped a hook on the back of the photo’s stiff cardboard and hung it up.  This was on a Friday.

I came back to the office on Monday and noticed that the photo had fallen down over the weekend.  I later noticed that I couldn’t connect to the internet or to our shared CCS server.  That’s when I realized that as the photo fell down the wall it had ripped out the ethernet jack that connects my computer to the rest of the world.

I’m pretty sure this means something.

Feeling connected is tricky.  Especially when working in an educational institution, trying to keep track of forms and academic requirements, etc.  Even when you’re an educational institution like CCS, commited to experiential, wholistic, transformational pedagogy.

This blog is an attempt to be more connected – for you to find out what’s happening in and around the Centre for Christian Studies, and for us at CCS to benefit from your stories and experiences.

Maybe the connection will be superficial and fleeting.  Maybe it will be meaningful and dynamic.  Or maybe it will be thwarted and put to shame by poorly-hung photos.  Who knows?