Archive - Dec 2009 - Oct 2016

Friday, 8 June 2018

Colleagues List, June 10th, 2018

Vol. XIII No. 48


Wayne A. Holst, Editor
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Dear Friends:

We are just home from a 15-day break and this issue of Colleagues List contains a summary of many perused web items since my return.

I am pleased to introduce the second book by colleague Mark Whittall of Ottawa that has been promoted here. The first one appeared in February of 2016. See below for details, and thanks, Mark for putting me on to your new title. This one is about preaching contemporary messages grounded in scripture and tradition but relevant to modern hearers. That means all of you might be interested.

Of course, I try hard to promote the work of my CL readers!

Over the last two days I have sifted through several thousand current online articles and would like to think some of the best can be found by reading this issue of Colleagues List.

Happy reading!



Book Notice -

By Mark Whittall

Wood Lake Publishing, Kelowna, BC
May, 2018. 158 pages. $16.00 CAD.
Kindle $10.00 - ISBN # 978-1-77064-921-7

"Amazing things happen when we let the
  stories of our lives intersect with the
  stories of our faith."


Publishers Promo:

Illumination Awards for Ministry/Mission.

Preaching, at its best, emerges from the life
of the community and its members. When
we put our stories into conversation with
the Biblical story, something new is created.
Without that connection, preaching, no matter
how well crafted, loses its relevance.

Re-Imagine: Preaching in the Present Tense,
explores the connection between life and
preaching using actual examples of homilies
that owe their very existence to the events
and questions that swirl through the church
community in the days before Sunday.

A transgender re-naming. Residential schools
for indigenous children. Same-sex marriage.
A pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. At
first glance, the stories may have little in
common, and yet, when put into conversation
with the ancient stories of our faith, their shared
lot is to give birth to sacred meaning and an
experience of the divine. To preach out of the
stuff of our lives is to speak in what we may
call the wisdom tradition, a way of speaking
that relies on the conviction that God is present
and active, here and now. We look for meaning
in the unexpected encounter between an ancient
story and the present life of the community.

Then, we speak.


Author's Words:

As preachers, our task is to open up the scriptures and to reflect on them, to tell people what we have seen in the text and to say what we believe about it... People (also) want to know what this means for them, for us today, in the context of all that is going on in our lives and in the world around us.

Preaching, in other words, must operate in the present tense.

(Whittall quotes several authors who point out how difficult, but important, that task really is. He says that in a pre-modern era the presence of God in the world seemed often much easier to locate and include in preaching. But the modern secular era offers a lot to discern as well. The context for belief has changed, but God is no less present. We just need to be about finding God in modernity - for ourselves and others through preaching and hearing.)

The preacher's task, then, is to articulate this experience, to name the presence and activity of God in our midst, and, in so doing become something of a midwife for ordinary mystics...

When we put our stories into conversation with the biblical text, two things can emerge. The first is that the biblical text is brought to life... the second is that the biblical text helps us to interpret our own stories, drawing out the meaning we seek...

By that, I don't mean a form of preaching that doles out practical wisdom and advice for leading a better life. I mean a way of speaking that relies on the conviction that God is present and active in our lives, here and now, in our time and place... so that we find meaning in everyday life... we put our stories in conversation with the stories of the Bible.

The preacher's task is to see and speak (the) truth that bridges the gap between the story of the ancient text and the story we live in now... We were made to make meaning. That's who we are...

I preach because I believe that the word of God is a living, dynamic force with the power to change lives.

- edited and interpreted from the author's Introduction
   "Preaching in the Present Tense"


Author's Bio:

The Rev. Mark Whittall is the pastor of St. Albans
Church and a priest of the Anglican Diocese of
Ottawa. He is an engineer by training, and obtained
graduate degrees in Theoretical Physics and in
Development Economics from Oxford University.

His first career was as an engineer and executive
in the high-tech sector, rising to the position of CEO
and earning recognition as Ottawa's Entrepreneur
of the Year in 2000. Soon afterwards he left his
business career and turned to the study of theology.

He served as Professor, History of Science at
Augustine College in Ottawa from 2002 to 2007
and was ordained as an Anglican Priest in 2008.
After a brief stay in a rural parish, he was tasked
with building a new congregation at St. Albans
Church in downtown Ottawa in 2011, where he
currently serves as pastor.


My Thoughts:
In the February 7th, 2016 issue of Colleagues List, I introduced the first Wood Lake publication of a book by Mark Whittall:
"Reinvention: Stories from an Urban Church"
This is his second, but readers of CL have been fortunate to engage many of Mark's weekly columns from his "Sermons and Blog" website.
I am pleased that the author continues to write and to help us grow spiritually with him over time. To my mind this book builds on what he has achieved in his earlier work.

His book speaks to a major problem that I see in our churches today. Many of our modern preachers find it easier to search the internet for quotes and stories, and they then relay them to their hearers without allowing the meanings to pass through their own experience and then connect that to the experience of their hearers. Why listen to many modern sermons when you can connect directly at home online?

Each chapter of this book is an attempt to connect the meanings between faith and life. Traditionally we called this biblical hermeneutics (interpretation).

The task of biblical interpretation and adaptation to the lives of one's hearers has never been easy, but working spiritual intelligence is required to bridge the gap. That, I believe is what we see in a book like this.

Mark Whittall brings the experience of several careers in the secular world to his current career as a preacher. He knows what it is like to  come to church searching for meaning. He has also confronted many modern questions about life from those earlier periods in his vocation. Not only is he a practicing preacher, but he is also a developing writer. These two characteristics help to make what he has to say worthwhile.
I have often wondered why some fellow-worshippers from times past seem to vanish from the pews.  Many reasons could be offered, but I think a major concern is that people are not finding meaning at church. Socializing is one thing. Meaning is another. That is a sad reality of our times.
We should not be content to accept this as all part of "the way things are today." I have never been satisfied with accepting negative trends in the spiritual life that might be reversed.
Thank God for the intelligence and pastoral commitment that Mark Whittall brings to the writing of a book like this.
I sincerely recommend it to both growing preachers and hearers alike.


Buy the book from Wood Lake Press:

Buy the book from



Doug Koop,
Winnipeg, MB

May 28th, 2018

Hi Wayne:

I continue to be enriched by the weekly collection
of readings you circulate. Thank you for that faithful
ministry. Just this week I gravitated to a quote you shared,

which led me to a writer I'd never heard of and led to a good
discussion with a work colleague.

I'll be using the quote when I lead our team's morning
meditation tomorrow.

You may be interested in this piece I contributed
to the current edition of "Faith Today."

Be well, Doug

Faith Today,
May/June, 2018

"Diehard Believers - Deathbed Doubts Among the Devout"


Martin Marty,
Chicago, IL.

June 4th, 2018

"Sing, Choirs of... Atheists?"


Mark Whittall,
Ottawa, ON.

Sermons and Blog,
June 1st, 2018

"The Authority Question"


Jim Taylor,
Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
June 6th, 2018

"Friendships Need Maintenance Too"


Ron Rolheiser,
San Antonio, TX

Personal Web Site,
June 4th, 2018

"On Being the Beloved Disciple"


Elfrieda Schroeder,
Winnipeg, MB

In Transit,
June 4th, 2018

"Now That I'm Seventy-Five"



Nine Women Tell Their Stories of Abuse

The United Church Observer,
June, 2018


An Appreciation of his Life and Work
at the Time of His Recent Death

La Croix International
June 2nd, 2018


We Need a More Nuanced View of the Situation

Religion News Service,
May 30th, 2018


A True Christian Martyr, by Charles Curran

National Catholic Reporter,
June 1st, 2018


A Scourge Affecting All the Great Religious Traditions

UCA News
June 6th, 2018


Some Religious Schools Have Catching Up to Do

New York Times
June 2nd, 2018


Overwhelming Support for Abortion in Recent Vote

Religion News Service,
May 29th, 2019


World Council of Churches Official Lauds Pope Francis

La Croix International,
May 31st, 2018


Groups have right to set own membership rules/
procedures for determining who can be expelled

La Croix International
June 6th, 2018


Dominican Father Gustavo Gutierrez is Ninety

America Media,
June 7th, 2018


Globe and Mail,
June 5th, 2018


“We arrived in Winnipeg from the Netherlands in the
late winter of 1948. I was seven years old, and had
a lot to learn. How to speak English, how to play in
the snow … and of course, how to skate. But what I
wanted – most of all – was to learn about my new
country. And so I read its books, sang its songs,
attended plays at the Manitoba Theatre Centre and
listened to shows on CBC Radio. And through its
stories, I came to embrace Canada as my own.”

- Peter Herrndorf,
   Former president and CEO
   of the National Arts Centre


Globe and Mail,
June 4th, 2018


“All the qualities that flow from the invention of
marriage as we know it – long-term planning,
devotion to your children, and the cultivation of
the family as the source of values and correct
conduct – are the foundations of liberal society
itself. They are essential to democracy...

"Marriage, far from being an oppressive institution,
is a liberation from a Hobbesian world of social
violence, and a force for gender equality.”

- Margaret Wente



Provided by Sojourners and the Bruderhof online:

Love is not consolation, it is light.

- Simone Weil


Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful,
for beauty is God's handwriting.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson


We are talking about human dignity – and that
should be without borders.

- Geena Rocero


Service is the rent we pay for living. It is the very purpose
of life and not something you do in your spare time.
 Marian Wright Edelman


We have to be utterly broken before we can realize that
it is impossible to better the truth. It is the very truth that
we deny which so tenderly and forgivingly picks up
fragments and puts them together again.

- Laurens Van der Post


God is the friend of silence. We need to find God, and he
cannot be found in noise and restlessness. See how nature -
 trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence; see the stars, the
moon, and the sun, how they move in silence.

- Mother Teresa


Be gentle-minded, for those of a gentle mind shall possess
the earth. Be patient and have a loving heart. Be guileless.
Be quiet and good, trembling in all things at the words you
have heard. You shall not exalt yourself or allow your heart
to be bold and presumptuous. Your heart shall not cling to
the high and mighty, but turn to the good and humble folk.
Accept as good whatever happens to you or affects you,
knowing that nothing happens without God.

- The Didache


We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are
made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We
are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know.
We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders.
All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor,
educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all,
all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family,
God’s family.

- Desmond Tutu


The church is never true to itself when it is living for itself,
for if it is chiefly concerned with saving its own life, it will
lose it. The nature of the church is such that it must always
be engaged in finding new ways by which to transcend itself.
Its main responsibility is always outside its own walls in the
redemption of common life. That is why we call it a redemptive
society. There are many kinds of religion, but redemptive religion    from the Christian point of view, is always that in which we are spent on those areas of existence that are located beyond ourselves  and our own borders.

- Elton Trueblood


Faith is what you have in the absence of knowledge…and
that absence doesn’t bother me because I have got, over t
he years, a sense of the immense sweep of creation, of the
 evolutionary process in everything, of how incomprehensible
God must necessarily be to be the God of heaven and earth.
You can’t fit the Almighty into your intellectual categories.

If you want your faith, you have to work for it. It is a gift, but
for very few is it a gift given without any demand for time
devoted to its cultivation.…Even in the life of a Christian,
faith rises and falls like the tides of an invisible sea. It’s there,
even when he can’t see it or feel it, if he wants it to be there.

- Flannery O’Connor


I was invited to visit a friend who was very sick. ... When I
came to him, he said to me, “Henri, here I am lying in this
bed, and I don’t even know how to think about being sick.
My whole way of thinking about myself is in terms of action,
in terms of doing things for people. My life is valuable
because I’ve been able to do many things for many people.
And suddenly, here I am, passive, and I can’t do anything
anymore.” As we talked I realized that he and many others
were constantly thinking, “How much can I still do?”

Somehow this man had learned to think about himself as a
man who was worth only what he was doing. And so when
he got sick, his hope seemed to rest on the idea that he
might get better and return to what he had been doing.
If the spirit of this man was dependent on how much he
would still be able to do, what did I have to say to him?

- Henri J. M. Nouwen


To me the sea is a continual miracle, the fishes that swim - the rocks - the motion of the waves - the ships, with men in them - what stranger miracles are there?



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