Good Bye Jack

Penn of Denn
If Jack Layton had of had as many supporters in life as he had in death we would have buried the Prime Minister and not the Leader of the Opposition on Saturday.  But isn’t that always the way? Over the past few months we’ve closed two of our rural churches on the district and hundreds of people have shown up to remember and praise a church that closed because their attendance and giving had dropped to a critical level.  A reminder once again that the dead can’t smell the roses that are tossed to them after their death.  

Who is there in your life that you need to thank now and not wait to eulogize later?  Maybe it’s time to make a list.

By now ever literate Canadian has read the closing words from Jack Layton’s letter to the nation, written just before he died last week.  And they are good words, hopeful words, and while I did not agree with many of Mr. Layton’s political views I whole heartedly agree with these words.  “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” 

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Lessons from a Cruise

Angela and I are waiting for our shuttle to pick us up in Seattle to take us to our Alaskian Cruise, this will be our fifth cruise.  Cruising started as a celebration of our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and has become a priority in our lives, or an obsession, depending on your perspective.

This year during a time of reflection I wondered what kept us coming back each year and if there were any lessons for our churches.

Smiles are contagious: Every time you pass a crew member they smile and ask about your day. Not some times but every time. If they are doing something they stop and smile. If they are talking to another crew member they stop and smile. And it’s not creepy it’s just friendly.
How are your guests greeted and treated at your church? Are your regulars so busy doing stuff and visiting with one another that they don’t have the time or inclination to affirm the value of guests?

Safety is paramount: From constant admonitions about keeping your hands washed to warning signs about wet decks and the ever present steadying hand the cruise lines are serious about their guest’s safety.
Are we serious about the safety of those who worship with us?  From taking care of slippery surfaces, fixing the loose step out front and taking care of all the necessary child protection precautions?

You can’t please everyone: The company we cruise with has a reputation for catering to a younger clientele in a more casual atmosphere. And that doesn’t appeal to everyone. But it is what it is.
Sometimes in our attempt to please everyone in the church we become as bland as hospital food.
It is a reality that in order to effectively reach a certain group of people others will choose to not attend our church.

Nobody has to go away hungry: If cruises are known for one thing it is the food. There is something for everyone and anyone who leaves a meal hungry has done so by choice not necessity.
We’ve all heard of people who leave a church because they weren’t being fed. That may be their excuse but it should never be a valid reason.
As pastors we have a calling and an obligation to feed our people spiritual meals that are not only healthy and nutritious but also tasty and appealing.

They Take Pride in Their Vessel.  Everywhere you look someone is cleaning this or polishing that. When the ship is in port people are painting and washing windows.
I get so frustrated with dirty unkempt church facilities. Stained carpets, dirty windows and stinky washrooms say a lot about how we view our church.
If people just don’t care about the church building there is probably a reason.
Every cruise line understands that if people don’t return they won’t survive and instead of blaming the fickleness of customers or complaining about the way other cruise lines do things, they do everything in their power to attract and keep people coming back.

And that is a lesson to be learned.

The cost of Cheating

What’s the cost of cheating on your wife?  Apparently $7,000.00 and a reduction in rank.  At least that was the cost in the case of Retired Brigadier-general Daniel Menard now Retired Colonel Daniel Menard.  I’m not even sure that the punishment was for having an affair or if it was for having an affair with a subordinate?  Which would really limit the options for a brigadier-general.

But the cost can’t be measured in dollars and ranks.  We seem to forget that there was a cost that had to be paid by Menard’s wife and two sons, a cost that had to be paid by the female solider involved and a cost to be paid by the scandal to the Canadian military. Although that pales in comparison to the Russell Williams scandal. 
People rarely think about what the cost will be when they sin or who will have to pay the cost. Instead they are just thinking about the “right now” and they figure they have it all under control.  But really it goes back to: sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more then you intended to pay.

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible