Showing posts from November, 2015


Toronto Mass Choir has released their 10th full length worship CD with accompanying DVD. 

For 27 years choir director Karen Burke and her producer husband Oswald have gathered singers and musicians from the Greater Toronto Area into a worshipful, classy presentation. They are a Canadian fixture in gospel music having received both Juno and Covenant awards.

This is not a copy cat gospel act-- the Burkes have produced a sound and attitude of performance that is characteristically 'Toronto'. There is something decidedly Canadian, urban and Pentecostal in the sound with some high class players backing the choir.

I first met Karen Burke when I was a youth pastor in Markham in 1986. She was already active in Toronto's gospel music scene and the Mass Choir was in its emergence. The original vision and DNA is very much evident all these years later. 

My friend Dwight Ozard (rest in peace) brought TMC to Metropolitan United Church in London five years later and I had the privilege of p…


Once you have spent time in solitude, you return to life in community. It is a rhythm that we all must learn. 

A return to the noisy world can be troubling if we believe that our practice of prayer, solitude or fasting has somehow caused us to be suddenly more mature or better than those who did not show as much discipline.
Trusting in God may be a challenge for you if you’re more comfortable trusting in your own spiritual efforts. You may have decided that if you do the ‘right’ things, then God will be obligated to approve of you. If you fulfill your religious obligations (i.e., go to church, help the needy, not curse, pray, read the Bible, give money, visit the sick, etc.), then God must keep his end of the bargain (i.e., all nothing bad to happen to you or those you love). You may have reduced the gift of salvation to a mere contract with God. God has become your spiritual business partner.[1]

In solitude we must learn to rest in the mercy of God’s love for the broken, weak person tha…


Perhaps Bob Dylan's writing has resonated with so many because of his capacity to state common feelings in an imaginative way.

All of us have an inner voice that acts as curator in the museum of our memories and feelings. Some do not like the museum and avoid going there. What about those who are afraid of solitude? What if your mind is constantly dealing with doubt, the need to prove yourself or dread? 

What if chaos is the most comforting of your feelings and nothing gives you much relief?
For people who suffer with depression, dependency issues or a competitive need to always be doing something, the practice of solitude and fasting may be unbearable. Not everyone can spend prolonged periods of time in silence and alone. If you are afraid of solitude, you are not alone. You are not less of a Christian, because of your anxieties.
What changes in us when we practice solitude? What glimpse of God to we gain that changes our interior life? Should we spend more time alone or more time i…


There is a Celtic saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller. A thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God.[1]
When we practice solitude, we may encounter a ‘thin place’ where God’s Spirit can interact with us in a more personal way than we usually allow for.

Jesus worshipped and prayed in public gatherings and small groups, but much attention in the gospels is given to his times of solitude away from the crowd. Alone in the wilderness, on a mountain, in a garden... coming alone to the Father with his concerns, temptations and dread...
And to the thin place, we are beckoned…

Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard beca…


The English poet John Dryden wrote:
An horrid stillness first invades the ear,
and in that silence we the tempest fear.[1]

Does that not speak to the heart of loneliness? Stillness and silence can be frightening and leave us alone to encounter our worst fears. Have you sometimes found that you cannot fall asleep if it’s too quiet? For some the drone of white noise, music or television is a necessary tool to dull the mind into a sleep-ready state.
On the other hand, there are people who much prefer to have quietness and be alone. Other more extroverted people may think something is wrong with the one who wants to be alone, but the satisfied introvert functions with greater ease in a world that has less social interaction. These are the people who buy noise-cancelling headphones and can work long shifts in isolation.
In the spiritual practice of Solitude we find a secret world of therapeutic presence with the God whose preferred tone is a quiet, small voice.We need times of solitude with Go…