Friday, May 29, 2009

My Last Night in Hamilton!

Here are the highlights of my last official night in Hamilton:
1. Watching the Blue Jays end their losing streak
2. Watching the 2nd half of the great Stallone flick "Cobra"
3. Watching Walter Gretzky on the Hour
4. Drinking lots of water and trying to beat a cold that keeps trying to get the best of me.

I will miss Hamilton.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dreamfast either:
i) the desire to jam as many dreams as possible into a nap.
ii) a morning meal made out of dreams/visions/nightmares, like something from Waking Life.
iii) a disciplined fast of one's dreaming capabilities.

In my case, the third option is the one I'm speaking out of these days. Let me share with you why.

As many people know, I was helping lead an urban partnership in Hamilton last week, in which students spent a week in urban environments hearing and seeing stories of how the kingdom is being lived out in this context. There was an active element to it as we helped serve meals at a drop in, ran a clothing give away, ran after school programs in low-income neighbourhoods, and so forth.

While many of the students were deeply affected by these experiences, for me the most moving moment was hearing a sermon at one of the churches we partnered with. It was the Mother's Day service at this church, but rather than share a message filled with platitudes and exaltations toward the women in our lives, the pastor at this church spoke out of the story of Moses' mother, as she was forced to give up her beloved son. It was a story of pain and brokenness. At the end of the sermon, the pastor asked everyone to pray for mothers who are forced to give up their children, for mothers who take in others' children, and, here's the controversial part, for the Children's Aid Society workers who are often vilified in this community. It was a stunning comment in that community

Afterwards, when chatting with the pastor, he told me he had been crying while prepping the sermon and fighting back tears while speaking, because in that last week there had been a mother in the community who had had her children taken from her for the final time; they were being put up for adoption. This was the wind-knocked-out-of-you-moment of the week for me. What I came to realize is that this man knew his community, and knew them well. In love he stepped down into their pain, and then invited them into something greater, something freeing: forgiveness and love.

I am still unpacking the significance of this interaction, but its applicability became abundantly apparent to me a bit later on. For those who know me, they know I spend the majority of my time dreaming and thinking about big ideas. Unfortunately, I have noticed that because my mind switches into dream-mode at a word's notice, I can often zone out in conversation with someone, and miss out on the experience that is taking place right in front of me. It's rude and offensive to the person who is being vulnerable and open in front of me. What's more unfortunate is that I'm pretty sure this dynamic has shaped the majority of my stay in Hamilton.

Twin this experience with a large measure of anxiety I've had recently in not being able to know what is going to happen next as I move to Toronto. I've found myself dreaming about what it might be like, but this always seems fruitless because those dreams have nothing to root themselves in. I'm not in Toronto yet. The place is still a mystery to me.

So, I've decided to fast from dreaming for a while. I'm going to stop letting my mind run loose, and I'm going to open my ears so I can listen to what's happening in Toronto, what's happening in people's lives, and get to know the city and people who will become a part of my new home. I am going to be attentive. Perhaps when I start to actually know the people and the city, I'll be able to love them in their brokenness, and love them into something greater. I can only hope that others will get to know me and extend the same. Once I know the story, then the dreaming will return, and I hope and believe that those dreams will far surpass the ones I'm laying down.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sermonizing and Reading List

During the short break that I have while doing laundry this week, I thought I'd update.
Here's the scoop thus far for the Urban Partnership:
-great experiences in very different contexts.
-I love Hamilton and all the hope and promise that is hidden only to be revealed (if you go looking for it).
-Heard one of the most moving sermon's of my life on Sunday morning, and I'll most definitely be referencing it as a part of my sermon this upcoming Sunday.

And now for something COMPLETELY different.

Here's my current reading list for the upcoming spring/summer season:
- finish Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
- The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (it's about time)
- The Crack Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald (his notebooks on writing - just picked it up 2 weeks ago!)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Unclean! Unclean!

It's midway through the week at city/script, and I'm using a small chunk of time off in the afternoon to write a little update. I have a small chunk of time off because I have gotten really sick over the past day and a half, and I took the afternoon off to rest so I could be ready to teach again tonight. My teaching times have gone really well so far, and I dryly told the group that I was glad I got sick at this point in time because we've just finished studying the part where Jesus heals the leper and the paralytic, so now I know what to do. Both of these stories have come to life in my sickness, as I have openly come to God expressing my desire to be healed, and submitting that "If he wills, I can be clean", and in having the faith of many people take me to Jesus in prayer, expecting him to heal me. Though this may sound completely strange, while I was in the washroom waiting to purge myself of uncleanliness (use your imagination), I had multiple people in the washroom praying for me. Very weird experience, but also very incredible and moving.

So here's where I am now. I never did throw up, though I spent two hours in front of a toilet bowl thinking I would. I've determined that I've got a pretty bad chest cold, with a lot of phlegm in my heavy chest. BUT, as gross as it may sound, things are moving, and the dark heavy stuff is coming out. I think this is incredible because usually it takes days or a week to get to that stuff. My mom always told me once you start getting the dark stuff out, you know you're nearing the end. So perhaps I am getting healed, and prayer is working. Medicine rarely has a strong effect on me, so I'm chalking it up to God's faithfulness to heal that is allowing me to be clear headed right now as I write this. I believe God has been faithful because I went to him believing he could heal me, and I had a pretty rad community of people who felt compelled out of love, and their experience with scripture this week, to lift me up in prayer. Good things are happening.

Alright, tonight we're studying Jesus calming the sea, and the his encounter with Legion. Should be fun! Please pray that I continue to have enough energy to lead the study!

Friday, May 1, 2009

May I Please Have Strength to Get Through May

The blog might be a bit quieter over the next few weeks, for numerous reasons. First off, I'm leaving in roughly 30 minutes for IVCF's annual city/script week long event! This year I get the opportunity to co-teach the first half of the Gospel of Mark, and I'm ridiculously excited to do this. Ever since my first city/script experience, Mark has been one of my favourite, if not the favourite, gospel of choice. Not that the other ones are lesser, but Mark resonates in ways others haven't. This was the place in which I saw parts of my life transformed, and one of the main reasons I am doing what I'm doing today on campuses. It'll be interesting to see how a new bunch of students responds this time around...

Secondly, mere hours after city/script is over, I will be co-leading the first annual Urban Partnership in Hamilton! I'm excited that my final involvement with the McMaster community will be this week long mission. This has been a dream in the works since before I was involved at McMaster, and the growing excitement of how great it would be to get students to apply what their learning in scripture in an urban context is finally coming to fruition.

Thirdly, when I return from the Urban Partnership I will be preaching at my church for most likely the final time before I move to Toronto. I've got my sermon half done (that half being ideas in my head), so there will be a fair amount of work to do once these two weeks are up and I find myself with 24 hours left before I speak.

Fourthly, the Tuesday after I am helping organize a bachelor party for my good friend Dan.

Fifthly, I am in Dan's wedding the following weekend.

Sixthly, I am going to be in Brantford speaking to my old World Religions class in high school.

Now I must run. See you all later on in the month.