On to York

On November 1st, I began work as the interim pastor of Maranatha Christian Reformed Church in the village of York. York is near Hamilton, Ontario. The position is a part time one, so, we are actually living in two places, I continue with my other part time consulting work and J continues to work away in her pottery at least a few hours every week.

When we are in York, we live in a small apartment, a granny flat converted from a two car garage attached to a large rural home. The space, although smaller than any other place we have ever lived, is comfortable and warm. It was built for a beloved family member, not as a source of quick income, so the cabinetry and fixtures are of good quality. There is lots of storage space and lots of parking. We have a gas fireplace….

Even though  the unit was furnished, to make it our own we made a couple of runs to IKEA and bought some furniture. Its a big change for us to be so close to a busy center. During our first weekend we were at Ikea twice and in three different Best Buy stores and were still able to eat meals at home!

church-newMaranatha CRC is a relatively large congregation which has been without a full time pastor for over a year. The church has a very strong leadership and the congregation has a real sense of community. I have already witnessed, a deep heart. They are a congregation where four generations can be found worshiping together, where the nursery is bursting at its seams, where young families and older couples work together.

Oddly enough, the building you see in the picture above is built from the same plans (exactly the same ones borrowed from one building committee by another) as the Lucknow CRC where I last served. It is one set of beams longer so this sanctuary has five more rows of benches. Its very interesting to compare the different direction the two buildings went over four and a half decades and wonder about the discussions that happened which lead to different decisions. Maranatha is currently building a new sanctuary.

Maranatha is a congregation with great energy, and I am looking forward to being part of their story over the next months.

The Year End Wrap-up 2014

2014 is rapidly slipping behind us. Its been a year of change, a year of some uncertainty,  in many ways, a year we will look back on with mixed feelings.

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One of many beautiful pieces coming from the shop

J and I have both seen the direction of our lives change this year. J’s maybe more than mine. In April, after a really bad season of winter driving, she left her job at the YMCA. It just wasn’t fun anymore and the pay didn’t cover the aggravation. She’s not one to sit quietly though. She had been taking some pottery classes from a local potter and her creative side was tickled. The workshop in our drive-in shed was commandeered and renovated, equipment and supplies purchased, and now there is a steady flow (trickle?) of wonderful pottery coming out of it (there are a few things going into the scrap bucket as well). She’s even had a few people wanting to buy what she makes, which wasn’t the intention at all.

20141127_090230While it may seem like we should call J’s year the Year of the Pot, we could also call it the Year of the Sock. She had been an avid knitter before, but this year it seems to have become a passion with 26 pairs of socks completed along with a number of sweaters, shawls and other pieces. Her hands are never idle.

I started the year with three hats to wear and ended it with only two.

In October, I graduated from the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary with a Master of Christian Studies to go along with the Master of Divinity I completed last year. For a while anyway I will no longer be able to call myself a student, at least in the “enrolled somewhere” sense.

Photo courtesy Annelies Numan

Photo courtesy Annelies Numan

In February, after having been called by my local church, I was examined by my denomination and ordained as a Minister of the Word in the Christian Reformed Church. We had a wonderful ordination service and  party afterward. I’m apparently a Reverend now, but I don’t really like the title and I feel no more reverend than I did before. My work at the church has been fulfilling. I’ve learned a lot. Since it is an interim position, I know I will be replaced; there is always a feeling of uncertainty about what the future will hold.

I also continue to work as a sheep and goat nutrition consultant. This work, for a number of reason has slowed somewhat this year but still manages to fill in the cracks with interesting work outside of the theological world.

The tamdem along the Natchez Trace Parkway

The tamdem along the Natchez Trace Parkway

With all of these part-time things going on, J and I are able to enjoy a lot of flexibility in our lives. We need it because we love to travel. In February we went with our entire family to Nevada and Arizona. While Las Vegas was part of the trip, the highlight was the three days we spent at the Grand Canyon. In May J and I rode the entire Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez Mississippi to Nashville Tennessee on our tandem. Later in the summer we did a three day trip in southern Ontario. We spent more nights in our trailer than we have any year in the past, catching long weekends and a full week in early September.

Of course, our litany of travel wouldn’t be complete without those trips to see our family. In August we made our last trip to Edmonton to see our daughter R defend her PhD thesis. They have since moved to Ottawa (we can drive there!!) where R is working at the University of Ottawa on a Post Doctoral Fellowship and JW is working for a company that makes software for accounting firms. Their son, D, will be getting used to going to a daycare in the new year.

In late November we traveled to San Francisco where our son, J, continues as a Software Engineer at Google, and his wife, L, is working as the producer of an independent film coming out in the new year. The sights and sounds of this city are always exciting. This year we had a new experience there, crabbing. It was cool, but we only caught a shoe and ended the day with a big feast of crab from the Whole Foods grocery store down the street.

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I’s baptism

J and M, still living in Toronto, are close enough to drive to for a visit. In June, little I was born, healthy and happy. By September J was enrolled and busy with classes as she starts working toward a Master in Information Science. M works as an engineer during the day, but is increasingly busy with independent engineering work in the evenings. He completed his real estate licence this year as well.

With only a few days left in the year we are looking forward to 2015. We know there will be uncertainty, but we already have some pretty major plans for the year (more on this later) and are looking forward to what God has in store for us.

Calvin Worship Symposium Thoughts

I wanted to write this post yesterday, but, I was just too tired. Tired really isn’t even the word for it. Exhausted fits more correctly. We arrived home from Grand Rapids around 10:30 on Saturday night which should have given the chance for a good night’s sleep in my own bed, but, the angst of preaching on Sunday along with all the cool things I could yet do to that sermon that were spawned at the symposium, had me awake at around four. By the time I gave the sermon, I had worked out a couple of those additions, but, rest did not happen. 

After the service, with its attendant adrenalin (Holy Spirit) rush, the crash was deeper than I normally experience. A sense of exhaustion, sickness with a sprinkling of depression settled in, so I did not go to my computer to reflect on the week’s excitement.

I would have reiterated how blessed I felt to have heard Walter Brueggemann, Anne Zaki, and Mary Hulst. I would have shared the way that Mark Charles used stories to bring the parable of the shrewd manager into today’s world and touched me. I would have mentioned the pieces that Scott Hoeze brought to this Sunday’s message. I may have waxed eloquent about some thoughts on funerals that come from a workshop with Tom Long. I would have spent some words on worship and the shiver that runs up your back singing Psalm 148, acapella, in four (or five or six) part harmony with six or seven hundred other people. I would have written about the great conversations on the way and around meals. 

But, I didn’t do any of that because I was just too tired, too used up, too empty. It’s a little better today, although I’ve been to the doctor, diagnosed with bronchitis, medicated, but the rush of the weekly schedule is upon me, time for reflection passing quickly. Like the wonderful things that I saw along the Camino, I couldn’t seem to stop long enough to enjoy, reflect, enfold. We needed to keep walking, the journey beckoned. So the images are held, the thoughts the concepts, filed, and they somehow, in a small way, become part of who I now am, a person affected by the journey who cannot accurately describe the sights and sounds along the way but know that in some sense they have become internalized.

In all but one area, this experience was a good one. Maybe next year, if I go again, that one piece of this part of the journey can be resolved as well.