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Third Friday of Advent--Anticipation of What?

The Bible readings in the Mosaic meditations for the Third Week of Advent show an interesting contrast and comparison: Zephaniah 3:14-20, Psalm 126, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, Luke 3:7-20 and the following additional readings: John 16:5-15, Romans 8:18-25. (All quotes from the Bible below are taken from the NLT.)

Because God's people had turned their backs on him, thinking all the while that they were honouring him, God sent them into exile.  This was particularly onerous to them because their religious and social life centred around Jerusalem and the temple therein.  Three times a year the men of Judah were to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the main feast days--days that reminded them of all God had done for them.  They couldn't do that in exile.  They couldn't offer sacrifices to God to atone for their sins and become spiritually cleansed without the temple.

Zephaniah talked about how God's people would be returned to Jerusalem.  Their troubles would be over, they w…

Third Wednesday of Advent—Anticipation and Grief

Advent is a time of waiting—waiting in anticipation for the coming of our Saviour.  An advent song has been repeating in my mind--just a couple of lines:
Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy praise.
It’s there when I wake up, it’s there as I drive; as I eat, as I go to sleep, it is always there.  But then, so is the Fount of all the blessings in my life. 

At my small group’s Christmas celebration last night, we passed a candle around the circle, each stating something we’re thankful for as we held the candle.   I spoke of how grateful I am for the church I am in and how I couldn’t have found a better church.

There are so many other things I could have expressed thanks for: I am safe in a warm house and warm clothes when the temperature plunges below -40, unlike the many homeless on our streets; I have a wonderful family; my marriage, which has been painful for most of its nearly 36 years, is becoming a source of joy; my sons are blessings to me in many ways—their l…

Third Sunday in Advent--Peace

(Inspired by Andy Wood's sermon at Winnipeg Centre Vineyard this morning.)

Peace is a common theme around Christmastime.  We remember the angels’ words to the shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth: “Peace on earth, good will to men.”  But where is the peace?  There is no peace in Afghanistan where we send our young men to fight and die; there is no peace for Christians in Indonesia and India who are harassed, terrorized and murdered by those who hate them; there is no peace in Somalia, rated as the worst country in the world because of anarchy and lawlessness.  There is no peace in the jails of Columbia, no peace for children whose parents are addicts to drink and drugs; no peace for the mentally ill whose thoughts torment them with lies of failure, worthlessness and worse.  There is no peace.

There was no peace in the days of American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The Civil War was raging, his wife had died and his son had been seriously injured. He wrote a seven-verse poem whic…

Christmas Radio

Steve Bell, one of  Canada's top Christian recording artists,  has created an online radio station to play the Christmas music produced by his record company (are they still called "record companies"), Signpost Music.  I've been enjoying it so much that I thought I'd share it with you:

http://signpostvillage.com/christmas/christmasRadio_2009.htm

He's also got a great deal going on till the end of the month:  Buy ten CDs for $99.  That's ten dollars each and by listening to the music online, you'll have a good idea if you'd like it or not.

(No, he's not paying me to advertise for him.  I just like his music.)

Second Sunday of Advent--Hope

Today has been a bit more difficult than previous days.  I made breakfast but when I sat to eat, my stomach was so tied up in knots, I couldn't.  The knots stayed all through church and continue to clench my gut.  I'm crying more.  I think that's good.  After the pre-service prayer time, several people prayed for me.  Someone prayed that I would know it's okay to not be strong.  I think that's been a problem.  I'm accustomed to be strong for others and it's hard to be weak.  I need to be weak.  I am weak.  Is my exhaustion the result of working hard to stay strong?  I didn't think so but perhaps it is.

I think I'm out of touch with my emotions.  The only signs of grieving I recognize in me are the physical ones--tiredness, this knot in my stomach and the occassional grumpiness.  When I cry, there is no mental or emotional anguish.  I just cry.  Am I afraid to feel the emotions of grief?  Or are the emotions so strong my mind can't go there?

Glor…

Mikael--The Most Vibrant, Imaginative, Daring, Loving, Fun Friend...

by Marita Obst
November 19, 2009

There are so many memories...and they are all tangled up in my life, growing up, first love, Christmases, hilarious family dinners, and a family that I love as much as if they were my own.

I first met Mikael when I was 16, and he was the first of all of his family to talk to me and try to get to know something about me, and I remember that the first conversation we ever had alone was a deep, complex and thought-provoking one. We talked about faith, and God, and love and I informed Erik later that day that his brother was very, very cool. Over time, that initial respect I had for Mikael only grew, as he became someone I loved as a brother. Over time I got to know all of the Chans better, and loved them all for their own incredible talents; Mons' humor and vast intelligence; Erik's openness, love and creativity; Konrad's honesty and joy; Debbie's wisdom, acceptance and patience; and Tom's generosity and warmth. Every one has changed m…

Peter Mikael Pan

by Lauren Kosta
November 22, 2009

To Peter Pan:  Mikael was so unique that to draw similarities to anyone else (even a fictional character) seems almost silly. Yet, what I saw when I looked at Kael’s adventures and the rather extreme games he invented, was someone who had somehow managed to keep hold of that childhood imagination that most of us lose as we grow up.  I remember one day we were going up the back alley to his house and for no apparent reason he climbed, laughing, into the tree in their back yard. I envied him in that moment as I did so many times.  When I was younger I loved climbing trees, but somewhere in my teens I developed cat like sensitivities in the form of fear of coming back down.  I’d cling to my life branch for much longer than I’d intended until someone coaxed me back down.  I watched Kael sitting on his throne of branches, even hanging upside down from his knees.  When he noticed his way up wasn’t as good for going back down (he had jumped into the tree off …

First Tuesday in Advent

Today is the first Tuesday in Advent.Somehow the first Sunday in Advent slipped by me—I was exhausted from the craft sale the day before and focused on getting through the planting of an oak tree in memory of Mikael.Advent is an important part of the Christian calendar.It is in the weeks leading up to Christmas that we prepare ourselves for Christmas.In our western culture, this usually means shopping, baking, decorating and lots of partying but it wasn’t always this way.It used to be a time of spiritual waiting and preparation.

For what do we wait?Christmas!Specifically, we wait for the day when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday.In the church calendar, the celebration of Christmas begins on December 25 and continues for two weeks after.Christ’s birth was long ago, so as we wait and as we celebrate, we focus on that past event.But we wait for something yet to come—Jesus’ return to earth.He said he would come again and God always keeps his promises.

A few months ago I ordered and received Mos…

Mikael and the Pink Duct Tape

by Ang Plett
November 28, 2009

I was thinking of Mikael a lot today as I packed up our household. We're moving from our little apartment to a house across town. Anyway, we are re-using a lot of the boxes we used when we moved to Prince Rupert to Winnipeg over a year ago. A lot of them still have the bright pink duct tape we used to seal them back then.

In August 2008 a group of us ventured out to Morden to attend the Morden Corn and Apple Festival--a favourite annual event from my childhood that many of my city friends had never experienced. I think the group was Jon, Megan, Alicia, Ben, myself, and Mikael. We had such a good day! We sat and watched the parade in the morning. One of the floats was by 3M and they were throwing out roles of pink duct tape to the crowd! We were all enamored with this pretty and unique duct tape and hoped we could get our hands on a role. Well, a role of tape flew through the air right toward our group. I tried to catch it but it ricocheted off my hand …

Oak Tree for Mikael

We planted an oak tree today in Assiniboine Park in memory of Mikael. It was a beautiful day. I was too weak to stand so I got to sit on a camp chair, facing the river that is splotched with patches of thin ice floating downstream, surrounded by friends and family. The attending park worker was awesome. He said he was honoured to be there. Once the tree was placed in the hole, he put good potting soil in the empty spaces and more on top to create a "bowl" into which he pour many gallons of water. As we were leaving he was putting posts in the ground to which he tethered the tree and used to support a tall, orange, webbed "snow" fence to keep animals and vandals away. It's a scrawny-looking tree, despite it's age of ten years, but it is surrounded by other oaks and will be well cared for. It's in the perfect place.

Mikael on the Assiniboine River

Donations in Memory of Mikael

Mikael was deeply concerned for those who are homeless in our city. He requested that at his funeral there would be an opportunity to donate to this cause instead of giving flowers. The Chan family desires that his wishes would be fulfilled by a memorial gift to Flatlanders Art Space, on the third floor of our building.
Flatlanders is a community of people that live on the second and third floors of this church where people at risk of homelessness can find not just shelter, but a home. Its vision is to be a place of recovery, officially designated transitional housing. Part of the third floor, currently unfinished, has been designated as Flatlanders Artspace; a place where music, dance, painting, pottery, and other arts could be used as a means to recovery, healing, and expression. All money received will go towards developing this room, including a plaque memorializing Mikael's life and passion for the arts. The thirty people who will be living in flatlanders will also share…

Memories of Mikael Vincent Tien Doe Chan

Mikael--A Letter from his Dad

November 11, 2009
Dear Mikael, my precious, dearly beloved and missed son,
I miss you so much already! My heart is broken without your earthly presence.
When I tried to resuscitate you yesterday morning, it was my last embrace and kiss for you, Mikael.
You lived a Godly life, a colourful life, a life that is full of adventures that was beyond human comprehension. What I just said is not a hyperbole; nor is it a metaphor. No one has the will power, imagination, and gumption to do the things you did so daringly well, like riding solo on your bike all the way to Sioux Ste. Marie in 12 days, jumping over tall buildings, kayaking in the Assiniboine in April just after ice-break-up, driving all the way to Kananaskas, Alberta to climb the foothills with your brother, Konrad, and so much more.
Quoting directly from your will, you gave me an exceptional advice on how to live when you wrote, ”A life full of friendships and close relations; a life full of love; a life full of music; a life full of ad…

Eulogy for Mikael

It's 3:13 a.m. as I write this, just hours before Mikael's funeral. I've slept 2 1/2 hours already but when I woke I couldn't get back to sleep. I am so full of joy I have no room for grief. I lay in bed two hours ago, feeling this joy well up into near excitement, undergirded with a peace and contentment that to most people would make no sense. I'm not sure it makes sense to me but I know it's real. God has been so good. He has poured out his blessings on us this week and I feel like we are the most blessed family in the world right now.
I can't imagine life without Mikael. I'm still in shock, running on adrenaline and the drive to give Mikael the best farewell ever and not wanting to miss a moment of the flood of family and friends who have been pouring into our home with cards, flowers, meals, goodies, more meals and goodies, love, prayers and memories. I've been sitting in an armchair where I have a straight line of sight to the front entrance, a…

Konrad's "Thing" for Mikael

I don't know how to start.How does one start a speech for his older brother's funeral?Should I address the audience?Should I address Mikael?Should I address God? What should I do Mikael?I can already hear you say, “France, what should your MOM do?”No, my name is not France, nor is it Frances, or Connie Francis like the singer, just Konrad thankyou very much.Some day from the past my Dad made the connection and called me Connie Francis.Mikael then mutated this otherwise inconsequential incident and started calling me Francis from that day on.It further mutated to “France”.It bugged me, and I'm sure that was his goal.Memories of him saying “hey France, wanna play impulation ball?” or “that was just uncalled for, France,” still make me annoyed.I feebly tried combatting his tactics, so he'd call “Hey France,” and I'd reply “yes Germany?”On a side note, for those of you who don't know Mikael's abomination of a game, the game impulation involves tossing a 4-foot …

Erik's "Thing" for Mikael

From the heart of your brother, Erik; via the vocal chords of your sister, Willow:

Probably the most entertaining and "unique" person I have ever known -- Mikael. The last time we spent together was some of your last hours, and I'm honoured, and proud to have with you forged that memory. Forged heartily, as Thor's mighty hammer, Mjolnir, of mystic iron and golden hair of boar.

We were watching The Big Bang Theory -- it was the episode where Sheldon gets afeared of Penny and Leonard's bickering and runs away to claim sanctuary in the hallowed bowels of the local comic shop. You said it was a "meh" episode. Aside from asking if I'd downloaded the latest of episodes, one of the last things you said to me was, "If you and Jenn watch Gargoyles, please don't leave me out." We don't plan to; we are going to marathon the whole series in your honour. I'm sure you'll be watching when "the castle rises above the clouds" -- ha!…

Mikael Chan--Obituary

Mikael Vincent Tien Doe Chan Eighty robust years packed into twenty-five.After a valiant and hard-fought battle with mental illness, Mikael took his life the night of November 9, 2009.His passing was not painful for him.He overdosed his medications, wrote two farewell letters, then lay on the couch and fell asleep.He was found early the next morning.We are grieving but we are also celebrating his life.Mikael packed more into his 25 years of living than most do in 80.He lived life with zest and purpose, loving adventure and never afraid of danger.At age two, he was literally climbing the walls of the front stairwell at home.At five, he ran a lemonade stand, undercutting the competition across the street.At seven, the two outfits merged into a joint profit-making venture, selling lemonade at the end of the blockAt nine he took over his older brother’s Free Press route, getting up at five every morning, regardless of weather, trudging through deep snow pulling a sleigh of papers that was…

My Son Mikael

My son, Mikael, took his life last night. We found him this morning.
Thank you to those who have written, phoned, visited or showed in some way that you care. Funeral will probably be Saturday early afternoon.
I want you all to know that God is good. God is always good. It doesn't matter what happens, God is good. I say with Job in the Bible: "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord."

Circle of the Musk Ox

Message by Nathan Riegeras interpreted by Debbie Haughland Chan
It was at an elders’ meeting several years ago that someone received a picture of the musk ox circle.When danger approaches, the musk oxen form a circle, enclosing the weak and vulnerable and face outwards as a solid wall of protection.Nothing but a mouse can get past the power of their horns.Society today gathers around the beautiful and successful, paying homage to those who’ve had the lucky breaks.But what would it be like if, instead of the “best” in the centre and the weaker, less successful crowding around them, the weak and vulnerable were in the centre with the strong and confident encircling them—not in obeisance but as a strong wall, facing away from the centre in solidarity against those on the outside who would destroy?Loneliness.Abandonment.These are places of terror for those living on the fringes of society but what if, as a church, we lived as the musk ox?Not long after the elders’ meeting, the church held …