Tragedy in Ottawa

As news starts to come out of Ottawa about the fatal shooting of a Canadian Forces soldier guarding the War Memorial and the attack on Parliament Hill, many things will be going through our minds.

How could such a thing happen? Why would someone do this? What was the reason? Who were these people? What happens now?

Some of these questions will have light shed on them in the days to come, and some of them may never be answered fully.

In the times of tragedy and despair, the Christian response is always at first the same: to turn to our God in prayer. We pray for Nathan Cirillo, the reservist who was killed, for Patrice Vincent, a soldier killed last week in Quebec and for their friends and family, in their grief and shock. We pray for others who continue to serve, overseas and on home soil, that they may be kept safe. We pray for the community and the country, watching, waiting, with emotions ranging from fear to anger to disbelief. And we also pray for the people responsible for this tragedy, and for their friends and families, as there is pain and shock there as well.

In the days ahead, as we learn more about what happened, there may be ways we can offer support. In the meantime, we continue to rely on our faith, remembering the words of Jesus, who taught us to turn to God in prayer, who reminds us that God cares for each one of us, and who told us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors.

May God be with you all, Amen.

The Thanksgiving Lifestyle

It may be after Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean that we stop being thankful, counting our blessings and showing gratitude to God for all we have. Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday, it’s a lifestyle! And not one that necessarily involves eating turkey and pumpkin pie!

It’s important for us to be thankful all the time. Studies have shown that people who have a grateful attitude are happier. I think this is because people who are thankful are more aware of the good in their lives. That doesn’t mean that you ignore that there are struggles and problems, but that you don’t give them more weight than the blessings. They are more connected to the things that matter: family, friends, our faith in a loving God.

On Thanksgiving I mentioned the a scene from the TV show “Call the Midwife”, where the nurse visits an old man, nearly crippled from painful ulcers on his legs as a result of wounds he got serving as a soldier in the Boer war, who lost both sons and his wife in the World Wars, and who lived in a cramped, cockroach infested tenement apartment. As they chat, he looks around and says “Life of luxary!” And he’s serious: he says when he was young he never dreamed he’d have it so good: a warm bed and enough to eat. He and his family were very happy living there when they were together. This man epitomizes a thankful lifestyle! Not that he’s not aware of the unpleasant parts of his life, but he prefers to focus on the good, and because of that, he’s a happy man- and he spreads happiness to others!

So Happy Thanksgiving, after the fact- may the rest of the year leading up to the next Thanksgiving be filled with a hundred times more gratitude than the holiday itself!

Giving and Thanks

This weekend is Thanksgiving! Yay! Many of us will be gathering with family and friends to enjoy delicious meals and warm fellowship!

It’s also a time for us to be conscious of the things we are thankful for in our lives, something we have be working on for several weeks now. Our God is good and generous, and it is right to give God thanks and praise!

We give thanks and we give also of ourselves- our time, in dedicating time to worship God, our talents, in using our gifts to serve our church and community, and our treasure, in supporting God’s work financially. All of this giving comes from the same place- gratitude for all God’s goodness. God never leaves us, God has blessed us with many things, and when we live a life of thanksgiving, we joyfully give our time, talent and treasure!

As we near Thanksgiving, take time to “count your blessings” and give thanks to God, and consider how you may give a bit more of yourself to God! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sharing our Gifts

On Sunday, we had the opportunity to talk about our gifts. We have all been given many gifts- the greatest of all in the gift of God’s love and grace, revealed to us in Jesus. But each of us has been given our own personal gifts. Singing, baking, building, organizing, caring, teaching, welcoming, the list of gifts we can have is endless. As Christians, we are called to recognize our gifts, and recognize how we can use them for the common good. All of us already have ways that we have served and helped others using our gifts. Sometimes as we move through life, our gifts change- we may find we can do things we couldn’t do before and vice versa. And the way we use our gifts may change- we may have more time, or less energy, or our interests may shift. So it’s good if we continue to pray about our gifts and God may be calling us to use them.

On Sunday, I shared a list of ways we could serve our church community. But there may be ways I haven’t listed, or new things we haven’t done yet! God is always working within us, sometimes is new and exciting ways! How is God calling you?

Volunteer Positions:

  • Vice Chair of the Board
  • Secretary of the Board
  • Worship Committee Chair
  • Offering Envelope Secretary

Committees:

  • Christian Education
  • Finance
  • Worship
  • Mission and Service

Sunday Morning:

  • Reading Scripture
  • Singing in the Choir
  • Ushering
  • Helping with Sunday School one day
  • Sound booth and Powerpoint

Groups and Activities:

  • Fall and Spring Supper
  • Rummage Sales
  • UCW
  • Men’s Breakfast
  • Single’s Luncheon

Other ways to help:

  • Welcoming and being hospitable to all
  • Knitting mittens and other items
  • Praying for volunteers, staff & ministry of the church
  • Baking for youth group and other events
  • Encouraging& caring with kind words & actions

Worship and the Wisdom of Creation

This past Sunday we started talking about our Stewardship campaign. The them of the Stewardship campaign is One Hour a Week: Worship , Wonder and Wages. This week we talked about worship.

The Elgert family- Brian and Judy and their children Vicky, David and Dale shared their story of why the church is important to them, why they attend and why they support the church, financially and with their time.

I spoke about the Wisdom of Creation, which can inspire us to worship. We see many writers in scripture describing Creation as praising God, and asus, as human beings, being called to be a part of that Universal Praise of our Creator. But we gather to worship for many reasons. The Sabbath day was given also as a gift: in honour of the day that God rested after creating the world, it is a day of rest, or renewal. If you look around our world today you see signs of creation getting ready for winter’s rest and spring’s renewal: trees are losing their leaves, animals are preparing in their various ways.If we look around, we might also see that many of us humans could use a time to rest and reflect: we often make ourselves too busy and run ourselves ragged. God gift of Sabbath is so we all have a time to stop with the busyness of life and just breathe. If we all did this more often, we may find ourselves more in tune with ourselves, and more connected to God. (Of course, Sundays do not always work for everyone to take a rest, or to gather to worship. It is important, though, to make a time to do this regularly, even if it’s a different time every week!)