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 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?
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
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?
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.
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.
No one likes to be told to stay home. Our lives in general are about being with others; sharing each others joys, sorrows, and so much more. So how do we manage?
In reality fresh air and sunshine is a good thing even when we are staying away from others.
What does life look like right now? The stores are restocking but many people are buying up more than they need. There’s whining about our favorite restaurants being shut down with pick up or delivery only. There’s moments when we decide to go out because we are tired of being stuck at home. Resist the urge to go shopping. Resist the urge to meet up with friends.
So what do we do? There is so much richness in our Sabbath time – our time apart. More time to write, to plan the summer garden, to tidy up the back of the cupboard, to read, to paint, to craft, and so much more. Of course most people’s ideas of a stay-cation are not about being home. What if we re-framed those thoughts?
What does staying home look like to you?
Today I am:
knitting and spinning
watching some classic movies
spending time with Nick
taking care of the bunnies
But wait – this is a normal Tuesday for me.
What’s on your list today?
Stay safe and well dear friends of the earth. God bless.
In an effort to reach the community during this time of uncertainty I recorded yesterday’s service held at St. Andrews in Matawatchan. This audio recording has not been edited. (I currently don’t have the technology to do so).
If you want to hear the message only you can go to time stamp 16:35
For those who attended in Schutt or Denbigh you will hear the message a little differently. As a few know, my sermons are not identical from church to church.
I’m also adding the service bulletin.
ST. ANDREW’S, ST. LUKE’S, EMMANUEL UNITED CHURCHES OF CANADA Email: email@example.com Designated Lay Minister: Barbara Creelman Phone: 613-333-9894 March 15, 2020 LENT III
*Indicates an invitation to stand in body or spirit. Bold type indicates responses to be said or sung by all.
WE GATHER TO PRAISE GOD Musical Prelude We prepare our hearts for worship Welcome – Lighting of the Christ Candle Centering Prayer
Call to Worship: *Opening Hymn:
We share our blessings, celebrations, and community
WE HEAR GOD’S WORD FOR US
Gospel Lesson: Mark 12:1-9
We pray: May we hear the voice of the Spirit speaking to us through these words of Good News heard today. Amen.
Message: Righteous anger?
*Hymn: 378 Spirit of God descend upon my heart
WE RESPOND TO GOD’S WORD Community and world prayers, the Lord’s Prayer
We share our gifts and give thanks
*Offering Hymn: 543 We give thee but thine own What e’er the gift may be All that we have is thine alone, A trust, O God, from thee. Amen.
*Hymn: 343 I love to tell the story
WE GO FORTH TO LOVE AND TO SERVE *Benediction We sing: We are one as we walk this road together. We are one as we journey side by side. We are one, even though we may be different. We are one. We are one. (Sing twice) Barbara Creelman June 2015
Snow days can be isolating for some. Much of today I felt wrapped in a love undefinable. The smells from the kitchen reminded me of all that I have: food, shelter from the storm, power that keeps the stove running and warmth radiating throughout the house.
This house is a home. It is home. Home is where I find refuge, I’m nourished, and I’m cared for.
But, there is more. Here, in this place, tonight, I find the grace to be me. A person filled with God’s love ready to rest in the arms of the Holy for one more night. I know deep inside that joy does come with the dawn. Each new day brings its own blessings, lessons, and surprises.
And snow it goes…I’m feeling a little melancholy. Enjoy the song. Count your blessings.
What a wonderful morning. The sun shines brightly, the blue jays are active, and on the surface everything seems fine. However, visual cues are not always a reflection of what’s in a heart.
A smile, a laugh or giggle may seem normal and positive but the under-current, what lies beneath can prove to be tumultuous. The waves of emotion that come and go with grief, sorrow, and sadness can be set aside for short periods of time but without the healing the grieving brings that grief can surface unbidden.
I believe that Sabbath time can help each one of us to re-connect with the Holy and with our faith. A few moments throughout the day focusing on gratitude, acknowledging the pain, then moving through that pain to a depth of faith that lifts us out of the valley. Of course those times may be very short and few, far between but with each moment we can be brought closer to the Divine.
How do I live through these times? With a song in my heart. Sometimes a song of faith to lift me up or a sad song to help me feel the depth of despair.
Here’s one of my “go-to” songs:
What song is in your heart today?
Many blessings to you on this the day that has been given to us.
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?