Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saints Old, New and Former

 Gladys leading her team mates singing during a rained-out Congregational Picnic, June 2007.
As I wind down nine years of serving   United Church in the Valley, I found myself getting teary in worship last Sunday.  It all started with singing.   When I look out at the congregation on Sunday morning, I see old and new…..and, yes, the former who now reside in heaven or, just as frequently, moved out to British Columbia!  I see Meryl, Jim, Doris, Edna, Sylvia, Terry, Gladys, Sandy, Merrilee….
            As Joan played and we all sang:  “I’ve got the Joy Joy, Joy”, I remembered how Gladys and Merrilee would sing out the question:  “Where?” before we all responded with “Down in my Heart!”   
            Bill Marsh blessed us with the gifts of a new Saint in our midst last Sunday in worship.  “What can I do?” he asked me on his first Sunday attending this past winter.   Oh, what a wonderful question to be asked!   While my small pocket Canon has taken photos of us during the week day activities in past years, Bill’s amazing talent captured some of our worship moments.  Click on this link United Church in the Valley to see the video in still photography that we saw during worship.  Bill's website is Bill Marsh Photography.  Thank you, Bill.    

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tell me a story when....

.... you felt God working through you to help another.  Or a time when you felt God was working through someone to help you.

Here are some wonderful stories you passed on to me:

Jesus said:  You are light.  You are salt  (Matt. 5: 13-20)

"I definitely feel that God is working through the children to continually remind me of the glory, beauty, simplicity and peace that God gives to us.  In Sunday School we are going to talk about God's love shining through us.  There are many, many times in my life that I have felt God working through me or others.  However, I don't seem to have the memory to remember specific times :) "

"Without God working through others, I would not be where I am:  feeling safe.  I try hard to listen (to God) so I can be a tool....seeing salt every day...being salt every day."

One mother of young adult children remembers what they taught her.  Her then six-year-old son came home from Summer  Camp and  spontaneously broke into song:  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind."  She says:  "I still need to be reminded of these things now and then."

Another person remembers facing a difficult conversation in work.  He need ed to tell someone they'd been turned down for something the person dearly hoped for.  He prayed to God that God would speak through him.  "Somehow I knew what to say to her to help her calm now and she was able to get some closure.  She left upset but not humiliated.  A colleague from another agency was there and emailed my boss saying I had salvaged a bad situation.  I never told anyone that all I do is pray."

Thank you for your stories.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Macaulay calling from El Salvador; Helping Japan

While searching the United Church of Canada's website for news on our Japanese partners for worship, I came across a new United church overseas personnel for El Salvador.  And beautifully, she's keeping a blog of her experience.   I was so excited.  Years ago, just out of university, I worked as a volunteer with one of our Salvadoran Mission Partners, Iglesia Bautista Immanuel.
        I've never met Lynn Macaulay but her blog says she's from Ontario and from 2010 through 2011, she'll be working with one our United Church's mission partner's ADES (Social and Economic Development Agency) located in Cabanas, El Salvador.   You can follow her writing through her blog, Macaulay Calling.    And just her blog title has such wonderful, faith-filled metaphors to ponder.
        Our prayers continue for our Japanese brothers and sisters.  Remember that one of the most effective ways to donate to emergency relief in Japan is through our United Church's World Development and Relief fund and that can be done through Sunday offerings or through our church office.  For a beautiful meditation with which to pray for Japan, check out the Salt Project's piece called Bright Sadness.  

Getting Ready for Lent III

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent
The Book of Common Prayer

Readings:  Exodus 17:1-7  Water from a Rock

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Flowers in Winter and other Christ-like moments

     In a week, much ministry happens and not always the chance to tell the stories.  Below are a few snippets from last week.  Also, from way back in my Feb. 3rd posting, I'd like to share some of the beautiful stories I received from folks.  Expect that post in the future.

Spring inside

Carla Farr-Jones rescued tulips and mums that would otherwise have ended up in the garbage.  They decorated our worship space and after she delivered them to High Country Lodge, giving many a resident their own tulip bouquet.  Lena Butler dropped off large bouquet of Mums at Rising Sun Extended Care, receiving many smiles of thanks.  On Tuesday afternoon at our service at the Lodge, people  happily told me about Carla and Megan delivering the flowers.  They talked about the colour of bouquet they’d received and how the flowers were gently opening.   Snow and ice outside – spring came inside.

Memorial ends with unexpected  sledding!
Kathryn and Gwenn
Wednesday’s funeral for long-time local resident Myrtle Ryckman meant many volunteers showing up to do the reception and make preparations.  Thank you to Carol Williams for organizing.    The High Country cemetery has a beautiful view but it’s steep road meant the Snodgrass Funeral Home Coach with the casket and every other car slide back down the road.  The whole line of cars  needed to roll back down the hill.   Then each car in turn took a run at the hill with a right hand turn and made into the cemetery gate, spinning tires and all.  We got out of the respective cars and laughed together.  This would have been a story Myrtle could have told at coffee time and apparently she loved a toboggan ride down a hill.

Thankful hands
One of our volunteers with the Literacy for Life program on Wednesday morning had surgery.  So Volunteer Francine Raab helped the children make a card.   Shalayne – we miss you and look forward to having you back as you recover and your van is repaired.

Dishing out Pie
It doesn’t matter our age – we all love a good story.  Jesus said “Love your enemy” in the Sermon on the Mount.    We used the book, Enemy Pie (Chronicle Books, D. Munson and T.C. King) as part of our seniors' services, and of course, served delicious pastry afterwards.    Children Bridget and Joy were off school last week so helped serve the pastry.  Check out Enemy Pie from the local library or here.  It says it’s for three to five year olds – but this adult begs to differ.

Busy time at the Food Bank
Last Tuesday wrapped up our February in the Food Bank. The news may say our economy is picking up but it takes a while to filter down.   We handed out many a food hamper to people in circumstances such as living in recreation trailers for the winter or a single older man awaiting surgery and financial assistance yet to kick in. Thanks to the help of volunteers who packed the groceries.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

In the 'blur' of the moment

It's quiet now....well almost.  One of our members, Rebecca, invited friends to walk the labyrinth and the music wafts upstairs to where I write.  I know some people can't figure out what a minister does in a week....and by the end of the week -- for me it's such a blur of activity, I have a hard time describing it.   A wider-Church meeting, a prayerful meeting with local pastors, budget conversations, at the Food Bank, coffee with the seniors, our outreach programs with younger families, a few phone calls to check on folks facing difficulties, preparing for Sunday, a Baptismal Font that needs repairing before our next celebration...emails to be sent...thanksgivings for two people heading starting lay leadership programs....Yeah, it's a blur.  But I know that there is good "salt" and "light" in all of this, that reflects the work of our Congregation.
      On Sunday, we'll talk about how Jesus calls us to be the Salt of the Earth and to let our light shine.  On facebook, I asked some people to post ways that God has worked through them to help another or vice versa.    Thank you for the stories received thus far.  I welcome any other stories people would like to post as a comment or email me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Playing in the Snow

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light"
-- Isaiah 9:2

Winter can be a dismal, cold, dark time.  Yet I came across a wonderful article about a woman’s remembrances of winter as a child, growing up on a farm:  Memories of playing in the snow, the smell of hay in the barn, being able to cuddle with her Dad in the comfy chair during long winter nights.

            Her words turned a dark season into light for me.  So I suppose that’s why I found myself a week ago in -18 Celcius weather, outside with my daughter, digging a tunnel in a snow drift.  And loving it and not feeling the cold.

         At our seniors’ service at our local care homes, the Lodge and Extended Care, we re-told the woman’s stories of winter memories.     We’d added photos.   One resident many of us know through her previous volunteer work with the food bank until her health meant she could no longer live alone.   She's doing well now with assistance.
          After we told the story of winters gone-by, we asked for people's own reminisces:     With a smile that reached to her eyes, this woman was the first to speak:  “Playing in the snow at night during a Full Moon.”

         Amazing.  What a wonderful memory.  “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”

         It’s nearly a year since we started the Mommy and Me exercise class run by ourselves, The Energy Shop and the  Health and Wellness Coalition.  So it was time for evaluations.   Its delighted us at the highly positive evaluations and the gratitude of the Moms that the program is available for them.   There are also comments on quality of life.  For many Moms being at home with their children day after day can be wearing, bringing on low, depressed times.  Yet having the exercise, some said, improves mood and gives them more energy to be the parents they want to be.

         From darkness to light.