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It is well

It is well with my soul..

A favourite hymn sung by a favourite choir.

When I think of my faith and the rock that faith is built upon I wonder why there are times that these words escape me.

  • when I’m feeling lonely
  • when my body aches
  • when friends struggle
  • when violence over-comes the world
  • when wisdom seems to be at the bottom of the list for so many leaders

In times like this is could sing “blessed hope” “it is well”.

What is your soul feeling today?  What kind words will you speak to remind you of who you are?

“Even so, it is well with my soul”.

Peace and blessed be.

Barbara

 

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After the sermon…

Sunday worship was filled with excitement, children’s voices, and words of encouragement. Part of my love of worship stems and grows from the love that is shown to each other when we gather.  This Sunday was no different.

We heard from Mark 4 – the Parables of the Kingdom and the mustard seed.

Both of these parables connected with Father’s Day.  Quite the task but not impossible.

There were seeds:

  • of encouragement
  • of love
  • of joy
  • of hope
  • of family
  • of churches/communities of faith

The seeds, deep roots, stalk, and harvest can be metaphors for our lives and for the Kingdom. What we plant IS important.  What seeds will you plant tody?  sowing seeds

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Monday Musings

We enjoyed a busy day at the Pastoral Charge on the 17th of September.  We worshiped, as per usual, at the three churches.  The scripture passage was the story of how the Israelite people crossed the red sea and we pondered what “seas” we have in our lives that we have yet to cross.

We also looked at the nature of God – loving to one peoples and destroying another.   I see God as compassionate and loving and one who would weep at the loss of any of us – enemy or not.  This knowing can be difficult as we encounter enemies of the past and of today.  Where does forgiveness come into play?  How do we show our forgiveness in “God-like” ways?  Not so easy.  Perhaps that’s one of the seas we have yet to cross?  As people of God we can cross into forgiveness and love; we can do this together.  What do you think?

In the afternoon a few of us shared in a contemplative walk that focused on food

contemplative walk 17sept17

 

injustice in the world around us.  In a labyrinth style we created a path to walk where food items for the food bank had been placed.  We stopped at each item and prayed or thought on these things.

Following the walk we enjoyed a chicken “stone” soup and some artisan bread and homemade cookies.  We talked about how it felt to walk the path; we shared our insights.  The plan is to make this an annual event in the fall.

Thanks to all who participated.

Faith in Action this week:  What items will go on your shopping list to be shared with the local food bank?

contemplative walk 17sept17 2

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What will your Psalm look like?

My message titles never end up being what they start out as. I began a week ago thinking about God’s protection and our sense of privilege.  We studied, to some degree, Psalm 91.  This is a call for God’s protection from our enemies.

The following is the prose I wrote to prepare for Sunday. (although delivery is somewhat different)

I love the pictures the psalms paint for us. Sometimes they are pastoral and peaceful; sometimes they drum up images of enemies and great battles. Great writing often brings us into these kinds of contradictions. The psalmist do not let us down. There are prayers lifted up to God for protection that often call into play the help of the Messengers and the prophets. There are prayers of lament that leave us wondering why we even bother or care. Then there are great psalms of thanksgiving, of God’s grace, and never-ending love.
Psalm 91 does not let us down. All that I have mentioned comes into play. The psalmist calls out to God, knowing that God is there to protect and care; to help defeat the enemy. Then, at the end God speaks of the loyalty and honor that is given to those who as it says, “call on me”.
I have a problem with much of this. For those who believe in an interventionist being who steps in front of the freight train for us, saving each one for themselves, you may find a true connection with the psalmist. I on the other hand, find this a difficult step to take.
If we call on the angels to save us, the messengers, then who is to say that the enemy is not calling on the same God for their end ? There is an idea that we deserve this life, this country, this land. There are thoughts that because we are privileged, deserving, and even entitled, that we have all of God’s protection. We are the righteous ones. We are right with God. If something bad happens then we are separated from God through our sins as if God is taking sides and today we might not be on the right side; the correct side.
If we live this kind of faith it can put into question how our faith relates to others in our lives. From the beginning of history wars have been fought over who is more right [righteous] than another. The winner must have an in with God.

The early church pitted Roman Catholics against Reformers as if one was more right than the other. That certain rites and rituals would gain you more access to the Holy than others; Protestants against Jews, Christian believers against Muslims, and on and on it goes. Wars, pain, suffering, bombing, murder, separation continue all because of righteousness with God. Politics and power, religion and identity all call on who is more right. Even on our own soil there continues conversations about immigrant Canadians like ourselves, new-comers to this country, and the Indigenous Peoples who lived here long before any of us arrived. Who is right and who is wrong?

The psalmist points to protection from our enemies but the question that arises for me is, “Who is my enemy?” If the hand of God is truly on this chess-board we call life, then why does there need to be a winner and a loser? Can’t there be a draw? Why is there needless suffering and death if God is in control?

Would it be better to ask, “Who is my neighbor?” The protection the psalmist seeks and the protection we all crave is not just for the chosen few but for ALL.

lovethyneighbor

The psalmist wrote and shared what was known and felt at the time; in the context of living in war zones with enemies all around. I would dare to say many of us do not live or have never lived in that kind of fear. I would dare to say that our thankful hearts pray more for our neighbors and not against those who would do us harm.
It’s like the two football teams praying before the game – each for a win. Better to pray for no injuries than a conference title.
If we were writing a psalm today perhaps the words would be poetic and beautiful just as Psalm 91 begins but then perhaps, we would pray for the Holy Spirit to help us open our hearts and minds to new insights; new thoughts about where faith can lead.
Do you feel God’s presence in your life today? Do you call out to God for protection from your enemies? OR do you pray that God’s love that dwells within you will be made known to the world – to all your neighbors?
My prayer is that each of us can be open to the Spirit, to the unconditional love of God – a God that offers such love FOR ALL. We can be lifted up on “eagle’s wings” and soar high above the clouds. We can lie deep in the valleys and find rest. May our openness to God’s love be with us all, always.

What will you psalm look like today?

 

*meme found on pintrest.com

 

 

 

The big question

The question I’m most often asked is “are you still happy here?” The here is in the Denbigh area and serving the local Pastoral Charge. Both Nick and I feel at home in Denbigh. We like the hills, lakes, and being away from the noise and traffic of the city. The people are caring and kind.

Small communities are close knit. I’m still learning where people live and who is related to whom. A family is created even if none exist.

The downside of living here is being on the eastern side of Toronto with much of the family living on the west side. The distance can be tough but not impossible.

There’s a test of faith that goes along with both sides of this coin. As a Minister there are boundaries that need to be maintained. Having a sense of what’s appropriate when I share from my personal life and when to phrase things in vague ways which can become very important in small communities.

Faith is tested too when you wish you were closer to the family; grandchildren and loved ones.

Where faith fails, doubt creeps in. Perhaps this is a normal part of living or aging. Preparing for meetings and weekly worship services I find myself digging deeper for answers and a sense of peace that comes from searching for the quiet centre.

How do you identify your faith? Does your faith grow during times of sorrow, fatigue, or uncertainty?

 

 

Wondering Wednesday: Living the Gospel

How do we live out the Good News, the Gospel?

stuck in the snow

How do we move forward when all around is feels like sinking sand or deep, cold snow?

Our Gospel Message from Mark 2 shares a story of hope in over-coming the impossible.  Moving when we’re stuck and feeling out of control is not easy, simple, and sometimes not possible.

Our faith can grow from what seems impossible.  Hope turns to deep rooted faith when we dare to take a step.

What step will you take today?

Happy Monday

…and it is a very happy kind of day.  There’s blue sky, gentle breeze, and nature is a buzzing with life.  So much to be thankful for.

happy monday

Yesterday at St. Luke’s United we shared in a time of remembrance for those who have passed since last June.  We lit candles, prayed, and had a time over food to share memories.

The focus of the service was not only remembering but of giving thanks.  From Psalm 138: “To You, Lord, I give my whole heart, a heart filled with praise, for I am grateful;”
We understand that through the valleys and onto the mountain peaks God is with us – we are not alone.  For this we give thanks.

Living in gratitude is Godly living. Giving thanks renews our hearts. Are you living in an attitude of gratitude today, on this happy Monday?

 

Speak Eternal One, your servant is listening.

This song came to my mind as I pondered being still and listening to that still small voice that calls to each one of us.

Samuel rose three times to respond to Eli who did not call to him.

How often do we respond thinking God is calling to us but not taking the time to discern or understand where, why, or how we are to proceed?

This is a week of decisions.  Decisions within the Province of Ontario; decisions of what to do, where to go, what to wear, what to eat. Each moment can present an opportunity to make choices.

Listen.  Do you hear God’s call on your life?  Are you ready to answer, “Yes Lord. Your faithful servant is listening.