Boxing Day, in the field

Saturday, December 29, 2012


It's A Miracle

Friday, December 28, 2012
"It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season—like all the other seasons—is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them."
—Lemony Snicket, The Lump of Coal


Christmas Eve

Monday, December 24, 2012
And so it is Christmas Eve here in the Field.
Outside it's cold and there is snow upon snow upon snow. More than I've ever seen here.

This morning we did as we have done for many Christmas Eve's, although when we started the tradition, because the internet didn't exist we sat by the shortwave radio to listen to BBC Radio's Festival of Nine Lessons And Carols.  (How quaint that thought is, "Back before your mother and I had the internet we used to gather around the wireless and listen to the live beautiful music from the other side of the world...")

This morning we continued the tradition and a more worthy tradition there never was. As the live music streams from Kings College in Cambridge Great Britain, travels on cables beneath the ocean and on poles off the ground and through a radio signal to my house, and changes time zones seven times, within seconds it reaches our kitchen radio. There we sip good coffee and enjoy being present at the concert while still in our bathrobes. A modern day miracle.

This year has found me in a particularly good and festive mood and that has been a bit of a surprise to me. The music has been a treat, the decorations delightful, the crowds patient, the lights, trees, packages, all have been a bit of fun this year.

On a year when work has been busier than ever and there are many reasons to get impatient and frustrated and angry, there has been enough grace and patience, and peace and real enjoyment of the season. I think that's my surprise for the season. To the point that when I was at a shop this morning to get a final item, the workers were busy re-merchandising out all the Christmas decorations and replacing the shelves with blankets and containers and such, I was a little sad. Christmas is nearly over.

I shall get over it I imagine.

Tonight is my last piece of christmas work as we prepare for the Christmas Eve service, and I can already feel myself starting to relax into the next few days off. That will be good, I need that as this year has been a big challenge.

So this Christmas it will be Micah and Hillary home with us. Johanna, Nate and the little one, Norah, live far away, and Thomas is at work pumping fuel into jets in Saskatoon this Christmas. So they will be missed, but the six of them are easing Lauralea and I into learning to celebrate Christmas without them around, which is a grace to learn once again.

Another good Christmas thing is that my associate Marc is in the next office working on the meditation for tonight and that has freed me to complete the other details for tonight. It's good having him around. I think I need to go find where we stored the candles from last year and get them cleaned up and ready to hand out for the service here.

So from our family and hearts to you and yours may the joy of Mary upon seeing her new born son be in your hearts and may the love of Christ surround you and shine forth from you; both now and in the year to come.

Merry Christmas.


Post-Apocalyptic thoughts and Cider and Cookies

Friday, December 21, 2012
It's the shortest day of the year and at 7:50 am from my office there is no sign of light in the eastern sky, nor is there any sign of apocalypse, as of yet anyway.

I don't think I have time for an apocalypse today anyway. I've been up for a couple of hours already working on Sunday plans and Monday evening service plans because today is busy. In a few minutes I'm off to the hospital for a visit, then on to the city for a funeral for the father of a friend.

By the time I get back, Lauralea will have our yearly Cider and Cookies at the parsonage well underway, and that will go into the evening, so if you are in the area, drop in a bit, 2 pm - 9 pm.

I confess that I'm not too concerned about an apocalypse happening today, not that it couldn't happen today or any day for that matter. But it's more because I have confidence in what God has done for us, through His son Jesus, in loving us and caring for us enough to give us a hope. The God we serve is a great God and is closer to us than we even think.

So my posture for today and most every day is this, from Peter:
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:7-8
So be encouraged on this darkest day of the year. God has not abandoned us as some might think. Instead it's actually patience that you are seeing:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3
Let us not test his patience, instead respond to it as a great gift, and live today like it could be your last day here anyway.

Ah, there comes the sun. I best be off.
Blessings on your day, be it your first or last, or many many in-between.


Ho Ho Ho

It falls to few men in this life to play the role of jolly old St. Nick, but I am glad for the chance to play it.

Occasionally there is fear in the eyes of the little ones but more often than not, if you get down to their level and look them in the eyes as they look at you, there is wonder there and amazement and the potential for many good things to happen in their lives because they've met a kind person from a storybook world.

And of course the hugs are unbelievable.


A letter came from a friend today...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Hi Randall,

I'm doing some work in Addictions treatment in New Zealand and for the home bible study I'm involved in, I used one of your sermons I downloaded a few years ago. It was about the planting of seeds (thoughts) in the heart and you used 2 Corinthians 10. It was interesting how various parts of the message spoke to people in different ways. You mentioned how the widow/widower in your experience often on their own can dwell on negative thoughts without their significant other around to correct them. That was one of the highlights among one of the women.

A sermon from years ago in the Field, touching lives in the present day, half way around the world. It also made leading the home group a little easier on me. Thank you.
Well if that don't just make my day. :)
I'm living in a field in Alberta, and preaching in New Zealand.
My grandfather would never have believed it.


So let us continue to simplify life

Sunday, December 16, 2012
Sunday morning and I'm at the office earlier than usual. It was a combination of couldn't sleep any more and just a tad terrified by the prospect of the coming weeks. I lay there looking at the days ahead and I wanted to crawl into a corner and hide.

I know that for most people this time of year does this to them, or something similar. And so I am not so different from the norm. I do, however, feel the internal pressure of encouraging people to live in a place of abundance and peace, this season especially, and outwardly not being a good example of that at all.

As well, for a person who finds his resources replenished by quiet alone time, this season will test all that I am, and have. That too is why I am here early, searching for the aloneness.

It's looking like except for one night, all the evenings before Christmas are now filled up with work things. Then there are the other things that are needing attention. A son and his meeting with a surgeon, first of many I understand. We've been waiting in line for months for this and it comes this week. Though he could go himself, somebody with very deep pockets will need to be there, and since I can fake that, I should be there. Hillary is in the midst of packing and moving out for what she figures is the last time. Again she is moving far away. Not like England far away, but far enough that we won't see her much at all.

Micah starts a new full time job tomorrow morning and all that that entails. We are expecting house guests in a week or two who need a place to stay while they participate in a wedding out here. Then there is the wedding I am doing after christmas and much of that work needs to be done before Christmas day.  Fit into that the annual reports, budget meetings, nomination meetings, dentist appointments, church annual meeting, the week of prayer, the trip to book for midwinter meetings in the States, my performance review, installation service for new guy, and oh yeah it's christmas.

I find it utterly embarrassing to put that all into print. I mean it helps me to understand my present angst, but jeepers if I'm the one who is suppose to be a good example of how to live life, then wow I'm failing at that too.

Yes, some people can better appreciate that there are others out there like me who may be able to understand their difficult busy lives. But I'm the one who talks of balance and a quality interior life. It will take some serious work to walk this all out well. For me and for you.

So let us continue to simplify life.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Now I gotta go, Sunday is calling.


Lord, hear our prayers.

Saturday, December 15, 2012
Forgive me for the poor metaphor but after a day like yesterday words so quickly become arrows that fly back and forth between camps and individuals and blogs and opinions, seeking to injure or even to destroy.

Many to blame, many to condemn. People, policies, partys.

To be sure, something needs to be done, because for this to be the regular cost of being able to bear arms, it's not worth it.

But for today there are those families that are empty, or lost, or hurting.

How about we think about, or pray for, or care about those whose lives have been torn apart by such utter violence this week.  That might be a better use of our energy and time, for now.


Words for a snowy, sore morning.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
After a particularly difficult night, wherein I fall asleep very late and awaken early and feel like I've been in a barroom brawl the night before, I head to the office to start the day.

I fire up the old Sony internet radio and connect to Pandoras Peaceful Holidays Radio, (a real keeper in my opinion) and like a soothing medicine for my aches, one of my favourite simple tunes comes on, In The Bleak Midwinter.

The tune is simple, the words profound.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

By Chris­ti­na Ros­set­ti

May your day hold some secret healing grace for your soul today as well.


Gently falling

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I wish I could capture the feel out there this morning.

Everything is quiet and nothing is moving except for these large snowflakes gently falling to the earth.

Its quite beautiful.

I'd say it's even more beautiful than the photo I received this morning from a friend sitting on a beach in the Grand Cayman Islands.
Colder and needing more clothes, yes. But far more beautiful.

Sorry, this is the best I can to with technology.


18 more sleeps

Friday, December 07, 2012
Really a quiet day in the field today. The huge hoar frost covered trees stand like giant marble statues of spruce trees with no wind moving about.

A bit nice a quiet here today.

No appointments on the calendar for today so I have time to prepare for Sunday, and try to catch up with some technological promises I've made in the previous months. Getting the Admin persons windows machine up, running, and talking with the printer has taken me since September to get going. Then setting up a better tool so that people from the congregation and area who want to request prayer for now have a good option for that. So no, I don't start the fire in the wood stove in the morning, but I do make sure the computers talk to each other and the printer.

In that sense there are always things to do around here.

The big Christmas banquet was this week, and a full youth evening happened Wednesday. Add to that some people with urgent and serious needs and boom, it's Friday again.

Steady as she goes then.
Only 18 days left till C day.

P.S. I just ran out of Wine Gums.


Winter Wonderland

The snow keeps falling and the frost keeps thickening the trees.
Here's a full color photo from this morning, here in the field.


The First Sunday in Advent in the Field

Sunday, December 02, 2012
First Sunday in Advent.

You know, I love this stuff. This seasonal adjusting of worship according to the church calendar.  That's what I thought this morning as I put on my rarely used suit and my Christmas Peanuts tie. I thought I love being a part of this community of people who gather together each week just to worship something or someone bigger than themselves. I like it indeed.

Oh there were bells to jingle while we sang and Nativity pieces to bring forward and put in their places. There were Advent songs sung and scriptures shared and donations made for homes and towns on the other side of the world as we enjoyed what we have.  We started Advent at The Table, Christ's table he invites us to partake in, and to remember his obedient, faithful sacrifice. He came as a servant and as for us all, death was a part of his journey.

Then during coffee time with us all eating and drinking downstairs, somebody started up the Happy Birthday song for someone at their table and slowly the whole group lifted their voices to cheer on the birthday boy. I leaned over to the person beside me and commented that it had the distinct feel of a pub party.

This First Sunday in Advent. Today was a good start to the season, and a good reminder that this is different.

So, here we go, on a journey towards Christ. Watching for him, looking for him, welcoming him.
You should come and join us here in the field. It's going to be a good season.

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