Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas shorts

Christmas shorts

Kjell sat in inside a Salvation Army shelter on Christmas day. He could barely move, think or feel, since he just arrived off the street from the minus fifty degrees with the wind-chill. Even though he was too sick with cancer, too old to work, too poor to own a home or pay rent for some other suitable accommodation; even though he had lost his wife a year ago, and their only child was in a special needs home because of her disabilities; he was most grateful for the Sally Ann shelter and the Christmas dinner he was about to eat with the others in similar, if not worst circumstances than himself.

Sigrid had all she could do to drag herself out of bed on Christmas morning. She heard the bells ringing from the village church steeple, heralding this day of joy, peace and love. Yet she wondered where these virtues were; had she lost them forever now that she had gone through with the divorce from her abusive husband? Where was the spirit of Christmas? Suddenly she heard a knock on her door. Should she answer it? Who was it? Surely her husband didn’t know her whereabouts now, or did he? Fear and dread, mingled with a seed of hope, and a speck of courage led her to open the door. It was her pastor, the Reverend Sharon Olavstad. After wishing Sigrid a God Jul, she said, “I thought you might need someone to talk to, so here I am.” Sigrid poured out her soul to the pastor for the rest of the morning.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve/Day Collect Prayer of the Day

Holy One of heaven and earth, we are filled with awe, wonder and

Image Credit: Wm. Kurelek Northern Nativity
gratitude as we celebrate the birth of the Incarnate Jesus. May joy, peace, love and hope fill our hearts and lives on this holy day and every day as we share the Good News of your saving grace through your Son, Jesus the Messiah, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit; one God, now and through all ages of ages.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Canadian Supreme Court strikes down prostitution laws

The blueprint of a Judeo-Christian society has been dealt another blow by the Supreme Court of Canada: the decision was unanimous 9-0, in favour of declaring laws against the existence of brothels, open street solicitation, and making a living off of the avails of prostitution unconstitutional. I’m not a lawyer, but as I understand the ruling, the key factor in the decision was the view that the present legislation was in violation of the prostitutes’ constitutional rights because their lives were in danger.
   So, now Canada, ever moving farther away from a Judeo-Christian society, deems prostitution and the [in Lutheran tradition] Sixth Commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery,” no longer valid. It was Fyodor Dostoyevsky who once is quoted as saying: “If there is no God, then all things are permitted.” Well, that seems to me where we’re headed now, what is next? Will murder also be legalised?
   One of my seminary professors, many years ago, used to be fond of saying that you cannot legislate morality. Then he would site the classic case of prohibition, and how that only led to organised crime making a handsome living off of selling booze. However, be that as it may, now it seems to me the polar opposite might become true: You can legislate immorality, isn’t that what the Supreme Court of Canada has done with legalising prostitution?
   I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the pimps and johns and organised criminals are jumping up and down with glee, now they can continue their evil engagement in sexual slavery by bringing in even more, way too young boys and girls from poor nations.
   Another spin off, of course, is a further attack on and demise of the nuclear family based on monogamous marriages. Already the divorce rate is out of control, now it will likely continue to increase. Even common law couples may be more at risk if prostitutes are allowed open solicitation. The legalisation of prostitution will certainly push the issue of how to maintain long-term, committed, monogamous relationships in society. Moreover, I think children may be the real losers with this legislation, not only those being exploited as sexual slaves, but also children in families: what kind of moral-ethical behaviour and values are their parents teaching them if the parents have no commitment to a long-term, monogamous relationship? What about the healthcare costs to society? I hazard to guess that there will be far more sexually transmitted diseases or infections with the legal availability of prostitutes. God have mercy on us all! The only way out of this hell is to have a functional government that will properly, and with great wisdom and discernment, come up with new legislation within a year in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling. The ongoing challenge to society as a whole, and to people of faith in particular, is to understand the root causes of prostitution, and try to address them, to prevent [which is not likely in a sinful world as we know it] or at least minimalise prostitution in the first place by making it so unattractive that only a minority would choose it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Today, December 10, is human rights day


 Did you "Write for rights" with Amnesty International? Every year on December 10th, activists in more than 80 countries gather on their own or in large and small events to press governments to respond to a human rights concern on selected high-priority cases. Amnesty members also write letters of hope and solidarity directly to prisoners or people experiencing human rights violations. 
   Today I focussed on development and respecting our Canadian indigenous peoples' rights concerning their land. Unfortunately, it seems our federal government is more concerned with developing resources than with respecting our indigenous peoples and the environment. Sadly our nation is now a pariah on matters of environmental stewardship.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela dead at 95

Nelson Mandela was awarded a Doctor of Laws Degree at Ryerson University, Toronto in 2001 
Yesterday, December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela died at the ripe old age of 95 years. What an incredible life he lived! Although in his early years, he certainly was no saint, in fact he became quite radical at one point, justifying the use of violent resistance against the South African Apartheid regime. 
   Mandela has been described, among other things as: The African Lincoln, noble yet humble, Father of the nation [i.e. South Africa], prophet, brilliant leader, courageous peacemaker, and so forth.  We Canadians awarded Mandela an honourary citizenship and adopted him as a member of the Order of Canada, we also named a school after him. Of course, in many respects Mandela was also not only a citizen of his own nation, but a citizen of every nation-especially regarded as such, I think because of his political giftedness and compassion for humankind.
   Without question, he was an inspirational exemplar and hero of the black citizens of his nation, and of blacks in general in all of Africa and around the globe. Yet, he had feet of clay like the rest of us, and he at times was the first to admit it. He had, in his earlier years, intimidated and bullied an East Indian leader, removing him off the stage at a public gathering. In humility that bespeaks repentance, he admitted on one occasion publicly that he had failed as, and had been a poor husband to his first wife. He also publicly spoke words of compassion rather than condemnation regarding his second wife, when he was asked about an alleged adulterous relationship with another man.
   Yet his charisma and sense of doing the right thing at the right time in a symbolic way, earned him the respect of even his worst enemies-including P.W. Botha's wife, whom he visited shortly after her husband's death. 
   I think the most significant thing we as Christians can learn from the life of Nelson Mandela is his brilliant capacity to forgive and work for reconciliation with his enemies. In this regard, he was extremely successful, and deserved winning the Nobel Peace Prize. South Africa could have devolved into a brutal civil war, however against all the odds, Mandela's brilliant leadership led the nation into a state of forgiveness, peace, justice and reconciliation. May this legacy of Nelson Mandela live on in the history of South Africa, as well as the history of humankind! REST ETERNAL GRANT NELSON MANDELA, O LORD; AND LET LIGHT PERPETUAL SHINE UPON HIM. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent Calendar

Yesterday marked the beginning of a new church calendar year, with the first Sunday in Advent. We lit the first candle of prophecy and hope on the Advent wreath. 
   Another tradition that has become popular is the Advent calendar. These calendars can be quite exciting for the young children, and for the young-at-heart adults, as the little doors are opened each day and usually there is a message and perhaps a picture with some reference to preparing for the coming/the way of Jesus the Messiah. 
   For those folks who like to support the work of development, education, justice and peace for the world's poor, our Canadian Lutheran World Relief website has a lovely online Advent calendar, which I highly recommend. I think those of us who support CLWR and similar NGOs in other denominations, can be encouraged by being in solidarity with the world's poor and having the sense that we are making a difference. 
   Please click on this link to visit the CLWR Advent Calendar