Thursday, Apr. 9 – Maundy Thursday
Scripture Micah 6:8
What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God…
This is the day we call Maundy Thursday. It derived from Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the last supper. The foot washing is only recorded in John’s gospel and is closely linked to Jesus taking on the role of servant, demonstrating to his disciples the kind of service he expects them to practice.
It was the custom of the day to wash the feet of all who entered a house.
For those of you who watched Downton Abbey, imagine if it had been a tradition to wash visitor’s feet as they entered that grand home. Would it have been Lord or Lady Grantham’s or even the task of Carson the Butler, to kneel down in their finery and wash someone's dusty, sweaty feet? No indeed! It would probably have fallen to the lowliest scullery maid! No different than in biblical times, the task fell to the lowliest servant in the household.
In so enacting this ritual, Jesus once again indicates how we are to serve. Everyone in God’s all encompassing love is to be treated with the dignity of an invited guest!
The message is loud and clear; Christ’s followers are to practice servanthood.
Down through the ages this practice has been performed on Maundy Thursday by kings, popes, priests and ordinary Christians alike, all following the humility of Christ.
No longer practiced regularly, in 2016 the current Pope washed the feet of several refugees from many different religious traditions.
The other more modern tradition on this day is the giving of ‘Maundy Money’. The Queen, attends a ‘Royal Maundy Service’ and hands out bags of coins to the ‘poor’.
It is one of the most ancient ceremonies retained in the Church of England.
But back to the upper room…
Imagine if you will, a beautiful, intimate, moment in an upper room, a room made holy by the love that was present there.
There was a man who was anxious, A man who was afraid,
A man who was savouring this evening surrounded by his friends, this man savouring every moment, this same man who would be arrested, after being denied and betrayed by one of those same friends…
But for now he was just a person having dinner with his friends. He was just like you and me (or how we wish it was today), eating and chatting and sharing an experience with community.
Let us now remember him as we step with him, these last steps of his journey, his journey to practice the ultimate sacrificial love.
Let us pray,
Servant, Messiah, kneeling before the disciples.
Generous teacher, washing your follower’s feet.
Surprising Christ, exercising equality;
Humble rabbi, modelling ministry
Through your actions, by your words, we know what service is.
Through your being, by your example, we know what giving is.
We are called to humble service.
We are called to self-giving love;
We are called to kneel at the feet of one another and wash feet.
(adapted from an unknown source)
Wednesday, Apr. 8
Tonight at sundown, the Jewish holiday of Passover begins, which is a celebration in memory of the Exodus of the Israelite people, out of slavery in Egypt.
Exodus 12:14, 25-27
"This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance... When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this observance. And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?’ you shall say, ‘It is the passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.’”
As Christians, this is not our holiday, but we share this story, and other parts of scriptures with our kin of the Jewish and Muslim people. The Israelite people are our ancestors in faith, and the message of God liberating the vulnerable from out of oppression is also part of the promise of our faith.
According to three of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the meal that Jesus ate with his disciples on the night before he died was the Passover meal. We see the emphasis on remembering in the Passover instructions; the meal is meant to remember and re-live that act of liberation. And at that Last Supper, we know Jesus also asks his disciples to remember.
So, today, I encourage you to read the story of the Passover, found in Exodus chapter 12, or start at the beginning of Exodus and hear how the story began, how: "Out of the slavery the Israelites' cry for help rose up to God. God heard their groaning,..and God took notice of them." (Exodus 2:24-26)
And remember...remember that God hears us in our cries for help, and God takes notice of us.
Let us pray:
Loving God, we thank you for the promise of liberation and help that we find in the story of the Exodus. We pray, we cry out for all those who are hurting today, for ourselves, our loved ones, and our kin around the world. We pray for you to take notice of those who suffer, those who are vulnerable, those who are oppressed and enslaved. We pray also, today, for our Jewish kin, as they begin their holy week of Passover, which, because of Covid-19, will not be able to be celebrated in the way it normally would. May the meaning and the memory still be strong for them, and encourage them in this difficult time. May we all remember your promises to us: of help, strength, and abiding love.
Kristin and Maureen
Tuesday, Apr. 7
Psalm 31:14, 15a. But I trust in you O Lord my times are in your hand.
It seems almost impossible that Sunday was Palm Sunday, and we are in the time we call Holy Week. How did that happen; wasn’t it just Christmas?
This year we were going to do things differently on Palm Sunday, except of course for the Donkey! It was as usual going to be brought in by the children, but towards the end of the service, along with their brilliant Palm branch creations they were to make downstairs during Sunday School. It would have been fun!
Holy Week scripture readings are found in Matthew’s Gospel beginning with ch:21. For the next seven chapters, the disciples must have experienced every possible emotion known to humanity. Think about it; it began with intrigue, from the minute Jesus sent Peter and John on a mission to take a donkey and a colt that did not belong to them! If they were caught in the act, he gave them words almost like a code in a spy movie, “The Lord needs them”….. You know the rest of that story, the parade the palm branches, the hosannas.
What follows is a roller coaster of events, the money changers and vendors kicked out of the temple by an unusually angry Jesus, many teachings in the form of Parables, not always understood by those simple men (or by us sometimes, even though we have the luxury of hindsight!) By the time Thursday came around I am sure the disciples' heads were spinning, and then they receive another strange instruction from Jesus, ”Go to the city and follow the man carrying a water jar.” Men didn’t carry water jars, that was women’s work! Yet we are told Peter and John did not question, they obeyed.
Now I know the Covid-19 reality can’t compare with the story of Holy Week...BUT...we have been experiencing many different emotions during these weeks, beginning perhaps with some skepticism, disbelief, defiance to comply – yet now most responsible citizens are obeying authorities! Like the disciples, we are called to follow and be obedient, especially when disobedience would be incredibly irresponsible.
May we continue to support one another in prayer and reaching out in whatever ways we can at this time of social distancing.
I trust you will find God’s blessing in this time in small surprises, in the robin’s song outside your window, in the unexpected note in the mail, and as you take time to read the chapters in Matthew's Gospel (it is a good read!)
Let us Pray:
Like the disciples of old we are witnessing new and distressing times. We are shocked and worried at the ramifications of Covid-19. Gracious God help us!
We pray with gratitude for all front-line workers, especially hospital staff and medical research teams. We also lift up to you those who we usually take for granted and to whom we give little thought: grocery clerks, long distance truck drivers, garbage collectors, etc. For our politicians, we ask for guidance and wisdom. We pray for all who are struggling financially and emotionally, help them to know they are not alone. Wrap us all in your tender care, we ask in the name of the one you sent to teach us how to Love, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Maureen and Kristin
Monday, Apr. 6
"The Magi set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy." (Matthew 2:9-10)
Can you believe it's been three months since the beginning of 2020, when we celebrated Epiphany and had a chance to draw Star Words?
When I introduced the Star Words this year, I promised myself (and you folks) that I would remind you of them and bring them up throughout the year, and last week I got a reminder that I had set for myself!
Epiphany reminds us of gifts, the gifts of the Magi, and the gift of Jesus to the whole world. These Star Words are also gifts. They are meant to be thought about; turned over to see what various meanings they hold; prayed over. Your Star Word could be a gift of God that you have, that you are being invited to share in a new way with others. It could be a gift of God that you are in need of, to pray for, and open yourself to receiving. It could be a "guiding star", something to help you find your way through the year.
Maureen's Star Word this year was "Melody". She says: "Lately it is listening for the sounds of Spring outside, because every bird has a different melody. I sing the melody line in the online choir. I am trying to find melody in the sounds of my 'silent' house. Even though I live alone I whistle and sing, but I am also conscious of the sounds of my home such as the hum of the fridge, the gurgle of the sump pit (and that gurgling melody evokes some anxiety!), the low hum of the furnace and so many other sounds I have never thought to identify before and trying to think how they can become ‘melody’ in my life. One melody I am missing is the wonderful melody of children’s voices and laughter from the ‘Tot Lot’ opposite my home. I am fortunate that most of the time I feel melody in my heart and in a time when being alone is forced upon me, I pray that the internal melody God has given me sustains me."
My Star Word was "Journey". When I told someone my Star Word in January, they said "I hope that doesn't mean you're going to leave Oakbank!" No, I said, but there are lots of different kinds of journeys! And I think we have seen that this year, especially these past few weeks. Like many of you, physically, I am not going very far these days. And yet, emotionally, I have travelled quite a bit! From disbelief, to being overwhelmed and anxious; from fear, to feeling secure in the hope and peace of my faith; from irritation, to joy and love and deep connection with people, and sometimes back and forth between some of these emotions in one day! Physically, the journey has not involved many steps (in fact, I could do with getting out and walking more now that I'm working from home) but emotionally, it's been a long trip already, and I know there's more to come. I have to remind myself that no matter where this journey takes me, and all of us, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, God is always there, too.
So, I encourage you to dig out your Star Words and spend some time thinking and praying about them. How have they been a part of your year so far? What kind of gift are they? And do they mean anything particular to you in the midst of this pandemic that we are facing together? We'd love to hear your responses, and if you want some help thinking about your Star Word, please reach out! If you missed getting a Star Word, here are six words chosen ransomly today (giving, confidence, will, activity, sharing, discipline). In case any of these speak to you, please feel free to have that be your Star Word. We have the basket of unused Star Words, so if you'd like us to draw another one for you, just let us know!
Let us pray:
Generous God, we thank you for all of the gifts we have been given. We remember the guiding light of the Star, and we thank you for your guiding light that is in each one of us, showing us the way forward. Help us to continue to hear your melody in our hearts, and be assured that you accompany us on our journey. Help us discover anew the gifts you have for us, today, throughout this year, and always. Amen.
Kristin and Maureen
Friday, Apr. 3
“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” Martin Luther
On Wednesday, I was anxious and jittery and could not seem to settle or find peace. Maureen had previously sent me a piece of music by Elaine Hagenberg and I listened to it, with earphones on (in doing so, I discovered how exponentially better it is to listen to music through earphones). And so I discovered Elaine’s incredibly beautiful choral compositions. Going through them, I found this piece, The Music of Stillness and it brought me what my body and soul were craving that day.
Elaine's music soars with beautiful melodies and exquisite harmonies, eloquently expressing the texts. This piece uses a poem by Sara Teasdale. As I listened to the music lines intertwining, I was so moved that my body spontaneously danced, interpreting the message and the sounds.
Talking with Maureen today, she mentioned a book by Kalyn Falk called I am here: Six postures of prayer. The cover says “What if your body wants in on your relationship with God? A spiritual memoir and devotional guide for practising prayer without needing words.” I realized then that being compelled to move to the music was my form of prayer to God and the universe invoking peace and calm into my soul.
There are two links on this page. I suggest that you listen to the bottom one first, in which Elaine talks about how this piece came to her. May the music bring peace to you. (I highly recommend earphones—oh, and listen for the LOW bass on ‘holy and low’.)
There will be rest, and sure stars shining
Over the roof-tops crowned with snow,
A reign of rest, serene forgetting,
The music of stillness holy and low.
I will make this world of my devising
Out of a dream in my lonely mind.
I shall find the crystal of peace, – above me
Stars I shall find. ~ Sara Teasdale
Let us pray…
God, we know that you hear us in whatever form we pray to you. Sometimes we recite well-known and comforting words, other times we cry wordlessly as we listen to the news, and sometimes our prayers come through our bodies. Reach out to us and bring us peace and comfort as we struggle through uncertain times. Help us to know how best to help our earth, our nation, our neighbours and ourselves during this crisis and give us the courage and wisdom to do the right thing. Amen.
~ Linda (Rodgers), Choir Leader
Thursday, Apr. 2
1st Corinthians: 1v18
Yesterday in the daily meditation, humour and laughter was the subject. Well…this morning I am NOT feeling like laughing. I am feeling hugely disappointed. Why? you might ask...I am looking out at all that white stuff still falling and the meteorologist telling us it will fall for at least another day and a half! Ugh…. In the words of my dear Nana, “The sky is full of it” and if the sky is full of it, the earth will definitely be covered with it! So much for the crocuses, snow drops, and tulips I saw poking through the ground yesterday.
I love Spring and I am always excited when I see the first pair of geese fly over or the Junco’s pecking at the bird feeder. Bev D. reminded us at Tuesday's study group of the beautiful song of the Meadow Lark, a gift that we city dwellers don’t hear. Spring will come again and will be welcomed. Who knows, when the snow melts, that wonderful cheerful song of a Robin may be heard. For me, the Robin is truly a harbinger of Springtime.
For some of you, whether it is snowing or springtime is the least of your worries. I think one of the hardest lessons of faith is that just because we believe, our God doesn’t make our problems disappear. As Christians we can depend on the grace of God to help get us through, but we still have to deal with the reality of the problem. Yet, God reassures us in so many ways that we do not walk alone. We read in Galatians that we are ‘To bear one another’s burdens’ (6:v2). In verse 1 of that chapter, we are encouraged to have a ‘spirit of gentleness’. So be gentle with yourselves and reach out so that we may be Christ’s hands and feet to you. For this is the message and the way of the cross, and of the resurrected Christ! May we all be messengers of the good news of the cross of Jesus Christ.
I want to leave you with some words of Richard Rohr, he is a Franciscan Monk who some of you know, follow online or receive his daily meditations.
After this pandemic is over, I hope we might explore the wisdom of this man together. The “cross,” rightly understood, always reveals various kinds of resurrection. It’s as if God were holding up the crucifixion as a cosmic object lesson, saying: “I know this is what you’re experiencing. Don’t run from it. Learn from it, as I did. Hang there for a while, as I did. It will be your teacher. Rather than losing life, you will be gaining a larger life. It is the way through. As impossible as that might feel right now, I absolutely believe that it’s true." — Richard Rohr
Let it be so…
Let us Pray:
In the darkest moments of our life help us to remember, that surely as the snow melts away, new life is waiting to burst out of darkness into the light.
Let this be our experience God, reassure us that we do not walk this road alone; you are with us and so are the brothers and sisters in Christ close by.
Bless us all this day, in Jesus name.
~ K & M
Wednesday, Apr. 1
Happy April Fool's Day! We could almost wish that this global pandemic was a large April Fool's joke that would end today, but unfortunately it isn't (that would be a pretty tasteless joke anyway).
Every year, many people find ways of making people laugh on this day – through elaborate pranks or just simple jokes. I don't know how many pranks or jokes will be happening today; many people might feel this isn't the right time for pranks. But I think we all could use a little laughter right about now!
In Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that there is a time for everything under heaven, including: "a time to weep, and a time to laugh." And in Luke 6:21, in the Beatitudes, Jesus says, "blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh." We have seen how laughter can go hand in hand with crying – how many times have we heard laughter at a funeral, as we remember the funny side of people we so dearly miss.
Laughter is a gift and a blessing of God, and it's something that can lift our spirits, even in times of sorrow, pain, and fear, and it's something that we can pass along and share with others. Attached is the picture that is commonly called "Laughing Jesus", but it's actually called Jesus Christ, Liberator. Can you imagine the connection between laughing and the relief of liberation?
So here's a church joke for you, I hope it makes you laugh!
A child in Sunday school was drawing a picture and the teacher asked her what it was. “I'm drawing God,” she said. “But, no one knows what God looks like,” replied the teacher. The child continued drawing and said: “Well, they certainly will in a minute!”
If you have any jokes to share, send them to us, and we'll pass them on!
I'm reminded of the song Voices United #624 "Give to Us Laughter". If you don't know it, you can look up the tune "Oldham", or listen to the audio clip attached. So sing, or just say the words as a prayer today:
These are the first and last verses:
Give to us laughter, O Source of our life,
laughter can banish so much of our strife,
laughter and love give us wholeness and health,
laughter and love are the coin of true wealth.
Even in sorrow and hours of grief,
laughter with tears brings most healing relief.
God, give us laughter, and God, give us peace,
joys of your presence among us increase.
Be well, friends, and remember: Love like Jesus, but wash your hands like Pontius Pilate! :-D
Kristin and Maureen
Tuesday, Mar. 31
Scripture : Matthew 21:10-1
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking ”Who is this?” The crowds were saying,”This is the prophet Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee”.
What beautiful weather we have been experiencing these past number of days. Spring has definitely sprung!
How are you? I hope you are finding ways to keep up your spirits.
This morning a friend challenged me about my Spirit and how I was using this time for personal growth, hmmm. When I said I was ‘busy’, her response was “Stop and take stock.” She said, “It’s fine to learn new skills, and all that online stuff.” She continued saying, “What are you doing for your Spirit, how are you feeding that?” I took her challenge seriously. She invited me to listen to a message from one of her Ministry colleagues, so I did.
The minister talked about prayer and the opportunity we have during this Covid-19 crisis, to not only clean out cupboards and drawers, basements and garages, but to clean out the clutter of our minds and make space for the divine to enter more fully. She pointed out that every time there is a ‘wilderness experience’, transformation or renewal occurs! This isolation is definitely a place of wilderness for many. I thought of the story out of Australia after the devastating fires, a man walking his dog photographed the evidence of new life growing from the blackened tree trunks!
When have you been in a situation you could describe as ‘wilderness’ and came out of it with fresh perspective and renewed energy, or a deeper understanding of our God?
When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, he was welcomed with cheers and shouts of adoration. Some were asking ‘Who is this man?’ Who indeed?
Will you with me, ask yourself the same question; but add two words to personalize it, so it reads like this…“Who is this man for me?”
Is this the right time for us to get to know that ‘man’ in a new and meaningful way? A time to liven up our prayer practice that perhaps has become stilted and stale, or if we have never really prayed before outside of church, perhaps it is time to start!!
When someone asks the question of you “Who is this man,” may we in gratitude identify this man as Jesus who came into this world to teach us the profound experience of LOVE. And may we personalize that a little more, and be able to express just who Jesus is for us!
Let it be so…
Let us pray:
In this time of crisis:
Gathered or scattered: God is with us
In suffering and hope: God is with us.
Now and always: God is with us.
May we in this time deepen our faith and our commitment
in the sure and certain knowledge: God is with us.
(Adapted from A prayer from the IONA daily office).
Monday, Mar. 30
On our Lent Calendar, today's date has a suggestion to give one coin for each time you take medicine, including things like vitamins. The purpose is for us to show gratitude for the ability to take care of our health, which not everyone has.
This suggestion was written before Lent started and before Covid-19 had arrived in Manitoba. Health is something on our collective minds a great deal more these days! There is a lot of fear and despair over the challenges we are facing. So, while we still encourage you to give your coins, we invite you to also spend some time in prayers of thanksgiving today. We can always come before God with prayers of lament, sadness, and anger, if that is what we feel or pray for help and guidance, if that is what we need. But it is good for us to also live into gratitude, especially when the times are difficult.
Let us pray:
God, our Great Healer, we thank you that you care for our total well being, physical, mental, and spiritual. We thank you for all the gifts we have been given, and especially today, for our health. We thank you for our bodies and minds, even if they are not perfect and don't work as well as we'd like; we are grateful for all that they do for us and for all they allow us to do.
We give thanks for our healthcare system, also not perfect, but which we have access to regardless of our financial abilities. We remember in prayer those who don't have access to good healthcare. We lift up prayers of grateful praise for people who work in healthcare, who are involved in helping others gain better health. We bring them to mind, people we know and people we don't know: doctors, nurses, counsellors, health care aides, pharmacists, nutritionists, physical therapists, technicians, psychologists, and so many more. We remember in prayer those who are testing people and those who are treating people, whether it be for Covid 19 or other health issues, and those who are involved in research and development of new treatments. Loving God, bless these people and the work they do. Help us to live this day in appreciation of our gifts of health, and help us in these challenging days to be mindful of our actions so that we may help preserve not only our health, but the health of those around us. We pray for the collective health of this world you so love, Amen.
Friends, we leave you with this blessing from 3 John 1:2:
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.
May it be so, Amen.
~ Kristin and Maureen
Friday, Mar. 27
Humankind was created as God's reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them. God blessed them and said, "Bear fruit, increase your numbers, and fill the earth – and be responsible for it! Watch over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things on the earth!" God looked at all of this creation, and proclaimed that it was good – very good. (Genesis 1:27, 28, 31, TIB)
Tomorrow night from 8:30-9:30 pm is Earth Hour! This is a time when we consider our responsibility to work towards a sustainable future for all of the Earth, by shutting off our lights for one hour.
In this time of crisis, there have been a lot of things being shut off, or shut down, that we normally would say we can't live without. While these measures are difficult for us humans, some parts of the Earth are enjoying a bit of a reprieve.
God loves us, and we know that God does not send us painful and difficult times in order to punish us or teach us a lesson. And yet, with God's love and guidance, we can grow and learn something from the hard times we experience.
Perhaps we will come away from this crisis with a greater appreciation for our part in the world-wide web of life, and the confidence that we do have the ability to do things differently if we really want to.
Let us pray:
Creator God, we thank you for this gift of the earth, the water, the air, and every living thing. In this time of global strife, let us remember how we are all connected, and let us go forward, determined to fulfill our calling to be responsible for and watch over your creation.
Thursday, Mar. 26
Romans: 8 v 11
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Today our Lenten Calendar asks us for a coin for each time we have used the internet. I might get off easy today, as I've mostly been on the phone checking in with you!
I am struggling a bit to make today’s scripture text connect to our use of the internet! Any ideas? This scripture talks of the workings of the Trinity; now that concept is perhaps as difficult to digest and understand as the workings of the internet!!
So I guess, I will move on down to v28 in Romans 8, which tells us “all things work together for good.” So maybe that could be our connection (although I really want to hear your thoughts). We can use this time of social distancing to connect in positive, helpful ways using the technology of internet. Some of us find technology a steep learning curve to climb! However, just check out OBUC, Youth and Dinner Theatre Instagrams and Facebook, and on Tuesday this week we had our Lenten Study Group using the miracle of ZOOM – it was cool!
This coming Sunday we have invited you all to use ZOOM at 12 noon to have a virtual coffee time with everyone who can and wants to join in! Already naming those things, I feel so much better. I guess it's time for me to get over my internet/computer hang ups and embrace the reality that it's here to stay, actually enhancing our lives in very positive ways!
For me the joy of turning the pages of a good book will probably always win out, and we do need those solitary pastimes to fill a need or feed our souls. The “Good Book” has many wonderful chapters for us to read and rely on in good times and times of uncertainty, so let’s keep it close and open it often.
Let us pray…..
Gracious and Holy God our lives are a collection of stories evolving daily, offering us a challenging puzzle of choices and of keeping faith in this changing world. When uncertainty is all around us, may we hold onto the promise that you are with us every step of the way. In the words of the writer of Romans, may we be convinced that NOTHING can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus.
Let it be so…… Amen.
Wednesday, Mar. 25
On our Lent Calendar today, the title is "Growing Edge: Compassion" with the suggestion to "Visit, call, or do something thoughtful for someone that you know is grieving or going through a tough time."
Well, visiting may be out of the question these days, but that doesn't mean we can't call, and it definitely doesn't mean we can't be thoughtful!
Jesus lived with compassion and taught about it as well. He taught that the greatest commandment was: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself." He was asked, "And just who is my neighbour?", and so he told the story of the Good Samaritan, and asked, which of these people was a neighbour? The answer was: "The one who showed compassion," and Jesus said: "Then go and do the same." (Luke 10:25-37)
I hope we can all find ways of being good neighbours, loving one another and treating one another with compassion, even if we have to do it from a safe distance! This is not just something that Jesus commanded us to do. To think not only of ourselves, but consider and care for others is also something we need to do for our own spiritual growth.
These days, let us also think of those who struggle to make ends meet, and who will have a harder time with businesses closing and stores with empty shelves. We are still collecting for Springfield Food Bank and West Broadway Community Ministry. There is a bin just inside the office door (off Cedar), so you don't need to come all the way into the church. If you prefer, you can leave donations outside and just let us know. And please remember, if you go shopping or anywhere else, practicing physical distancing is also being compassionate and a good neighbour!
Let us pray:
"God, I love you and I thank you for your love and compassion for me. Help me to love my neighbours, near and far, and give me the wisdom to know how best to reach out with compassion. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Tuesday, Mar. 24
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life, those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus is speaking to Martha who had run to meet him. Her brother Lazarus had been ill, was dead and buried and Jesus their faithful friend had not answered her plea to come.
The two sisters took Jesus to the place where Lazarus has been entombed. Mary is weeping, and Jesus also weeps.
The chatter among the onlookers goes from “See how he Loved him” to “If this man opened the eyes of the blind, couldn’t he have prevented his friend from dying?” In a scene of grief and obvious pain, not much kindness being shown here. Isn’t it strange how in difficult situations there is always somebody who just can’t help themselves to spout their negative thoughts, contaminating everything around them.
I shared with the young people on Sunday (on our ZOOM meeting) something I heard spoken on CBC radio by Dr. Sandy Buckman, President of the Canadian Medical Association. Referring to the current Pandemic he described it as, “An unfortunate Opportunity.” I have not been able to get this statement out of my mind since and I even see it fitting with this story in John’s gospel.
Lazarus’ death was indeed an ‘unfortunate opportunity’. On the one hand it gave Jesus an opportunity to first hear Martha’s affirmation that he was “The Christ.” It then allowed him to show his humanity as he shed tears, followed by his divinity by raising Lazarus from the dead! Alas, this death defying miracle became the last straw, the catalyst if you like, for those that would seek to destroy Jesus and his increasing popularity.
Lots to think about in this story, but this is just a brief meditation not a sermon, so I should quit now! However, what opportunity do you see in these current, unusual circumstances? Who knows, the ancient art of putting pen to paper and a walk to the mail box may be revived!
Let us Pray:
Our God in these uncertain times may we know you walk this road with us, as we are called to walk this Lenten road with you.
Fill us with your love, joy and peace. Amen.
“All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things will be well”.
Julian of Norwich. Ancient mystic: 1342-1416 (she survived the Black Death in 1348-50)
~ Maureen and Kristin
Monday, Mar. 23
The Psalm for this upcoming Sunday is Psalm 130. Here are verses 5 and 6:
"I wait for you, God, my soul waits,
and in your word I place my trust;
my soul longs for you, God,
more than sentinels long for the dawn
more than sentinels long for the dawn."
The idea of waiting these days might remind us of being stuck at home, waiting out our time of isolation.
But in this Psalm, waiting is active, it is not just standing still. It speaks of both longing for God, and placing trust in God. Essentially it is about hope.
So how can we wait with hope, instead of just standing still? Perhaps we can look at the things we miss, and see how we can work at waiting for them actively. We may miss seeing people, but we can be more intentional about connecting by phone, internet, or good old fashioned letter writing! We may miss some of our usual activities, but we can use this time to try new things. We may miss being at church, but we can work at deepening our faith and our connection with God in ways we don't normally make time for.
For a prayer today, say the words of Psalm 130:5-6, taking a moment to listen and be open to a way you can wait with hope.