Noticings – June 22, 2022

NOTICINGS…

June 22, 2022

(Yesterday, June 21st, was National Indigenous Day in Canada. In honour of that day I wanted to share with you this reflection written by Rev. John Thompson who is the Co-Chair of the United Church ‘National Indigenous Council’.)
 
The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof… — Psalm 24:1 
This is a revolutionary statement and perhaps it can be best acknowledged and appreciated on the longest day of the year: Summer Solstice, June 21. 
We do not own ourselves; we do not own anything. We are the Lord’s, as is all of Creation. We have a borrowed life on borrowed time—let us make the best of it. We are gifted from Creator for one another; all of life is interconnected and we need each other. 
 
June has been identified as Indigenous History Month. June 21st, a day when traditional ceremonies have taken place for centuries, is celebrated as National Indigenous Day.
We need to see history through the eyes of the oppressed, those closest to the Earth—Indigenous Peoples—and even through Creation itself. I once heard an Elder say, “If those trees could only speak.” So many facts of history have been hidden, covered up or ignored, as if not relevant or important, and yet these hidden truths are the most important of all. “The stone which the builders rejected as worthless turned out to be the most important of all” (Psalm 118:22).
 
Truth cannot be hidden. It eventually rises up and is revealed. This is evidenced by the countless stories of pain, abuse, and even death as more and more graves of children at former Residential Schools are being identified. 
Healing and wholeness are only possible as Truth is revealed. And perhaps then Reconciliation can begin. 
 — Rev. John R. Thompson, Co-Chair, National Indigenous Council 
 

Shalom,
Rev. Larry
 

Noticing – June 15, 2022

NOTICINGS…

June 15, 2022

 Music touches us and moves our spirits in ways far deeper than words alone ever can. Worship music – whether it’s a ‘golden oldie’, a Voices United classic, or a newer praise song – makes our hearts sing! What’s your favourite? What tunes make you close your eyes, and bob your head, and smile ear to ear? What rhythms make your heart go pitter-pat? What songs, when you finish singing them, just make you breathe out deeply and silently form the word ‘Amen’? Would you like to share those hymns?
 
It’s that time again! The last Sunday in June is always a special worship service at Faith United. It’s our annual Hymn Sing Sunday – on Sunday June 26 in our morning worship. You send in hymn requests, or write down your favourites if you’re at in-person worship, and then I draw them randomly from a hat and we sing them. Then the big fun happens – the sermon time consists of 3 hymns (randomly selected at that moment) and I get to improvise the sermon on the spot. Fun for the whole family!
 
So start sending in your favourite hymns now to office@faithunited.ca, or at church on Sunday. Some folks say its the best service of the year! More music! (Less Larry). (hahaha) Sunday June 26.
 

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

Noticings – June 8, 2022

NOTICINGS…

June 8, 2022

This week I’d like to share with you our Moderator’s Pentecost message for this year. It is on YouTube, and the link is below. Richard speaks about the birth of the Church, and the challenge for us as church in this day and age. He reminds us that “we are people who change the world—with deep spirituality, with bold discipleship, with daring justice.”
 
You can watch the Rt. Rev. Dr. Richard Bott’s message by clicking this link.
 

Shalom,
Rev. Larry
 

Noticings – June 1, 2022

NOTICINGS…

June 1, 2022

It was just an offhand comment, the kind all of us makes all the time. Someone was wanting to take a spur-of-the-moment snapshot picture – called a ‘selfie’. But this person wasn’t a big selfie-taker and was not adept at the workings of their cell phone camera. In that moment the phrase just absent-mindedly rolled off the tongue – “Oh, no one wants a selfie of me anyway.” It was one of those natural, self-deprecating little comments that we all make. Of course it’s not even a little bit true, and we know that it isn’t true, but we say those kinds of things anyway – because all of us, and I mean all of us, are just a little bit insecure and can’t help but compare ourselves to the air-brushed perfection we are inundated with via media. We know better, but that little voice in our head keeps poking us with self-doubt.
 
The instant that throwaway line was uttered the voice of God broke through the noise of the moment and reverberated through the crowd. The voice of God said, “No, don’t say that. You’re beautiful inside and out!” And instantly all who heard the voice of God knew that it was profoundly true, and that moment was transformed into a joyous and heartfelt gushing of gratitude. We are beloved! And when we sometimes forget, how wonderful it is that the voice of God breaks through and reminds us.
 
That’s not a story from the bible. (Well, I guess it kinda is!) It was a story I experienced recently. And the voice of God didn’t emerge from parted clouds with a fanfare and angel chorus. Nope, the voice of God came from a little girl. She was just standing nearby and when she heard that casual self-deprecating remark she instinctively wheeled around and infused the moment with truth and loving-kindness. “No, don’t say that. You’re beautiful inside and out!” It was the holiest thing I’d witnessed in quite a while!
 
I’m always going on about how when we do things out of love that it is an expression of our ‘offering’ God’s love through us. That little girl made a profound offering. God’s voice sang out through her, and love transformed the moment. It was so simple – and so blessed. How might you be an offering of God’s love this week? What situations might you find yourself in where the simplest affirmation of love could change someone’s day? Who do you know that needs to be reminded how wonderfully beloved, and beautiful they are, just as they are? I hope that you will allow the voice of God to sing out through you!
 
(Click here for a video version of Noticings) 

                           

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

Noticings – May 25, 2022

NOTICINGS…

May 25, 2022

I was introduced to this body prayer last week and I found it very moving and prayerful. The description below comes from the group that created it, from the tradition of a mystic named Julian of Norwich.
Please modify any of the positions to suit your own physical needs. There is also a video version linked below. It is really helpful, but I find it moves a bit too quickly for my liking. I preferred to pray this body prayer more slowly. I hope you’ll experiment!
Enjoy!

(Here is the description that accompanies the video on YouTube)
The 14th century Christian mystic, Julian of Norwich, once wrote, “The fruit and the purpose of prayer is to be ‘oned’ with and like God in all things.” This body prayer is a wonderful way to bring all of ourselves into the act of prayer, body, mind and spirit.
We have found this prayer. and body prayer in general, to be a great way to reclaim our bodies as valuable and loved. We believe this body prayer can help us resist the idea that the body is something we need to renounce or transcend in order to experience communion with God. Instead, this prayer invites us to be in our bodies, embrace our physicality as a way to ground ourselves, and find oneness with the divine and with all living things.
As you pray this prayer it can help you connect your heart, mind and body and to more fully experience God’s love for every part of you.
The prayer has four simple postures. And intentions:

AWAIT (hands waist high, cupped up to receive): Await God’s presence, however it may come to you.
ALLOW (reach up, hands open): Allow a sense of God’s presence) to come …or not…and be what it is.
ACCEPT (hands at heart, cupped towards body): Accept as a gift whatever comes or does not come. Accept that you don’t know everything, that you are not in charge.
ATTEND (hands outstretched, ready to be responsive): Attend to what you are called to, willing to be present and be God’s love in the world, however God calls you to.

(Click here for a video version of this body prayer)

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

Noticings – May 18, 2022

NOTICINGS…

May 18, 2022

It has been a cooler than expected spring. Then last week the temperatures soared into the high 20s. Surely, spring had been skipped right over and we were on our way to summertime! Nope. This week we’re right back to low-mid teens again. What’s going on? Well, the easiest way to say it is: “Weather happens.” When we lived in Nova Scotia we experienced much more changeable weather than here. A common phrase down east was, “If you don’t like the weather, wait an hour, it’ll be different!” That’s the beautiful thing about weather – it’s constantly changing. +
 
I frequently use the metaphor of ‘seasons’ in my theological discourse. In nature, in our part of Canada, we experience four distinct seasons. They have calendar dates assigned to them, but we’re all smart enough to know that they don’t always coincide with one another. Nonetheless, in time, all four seasons will emerge (and if you’re in Nova Scotia sometimes during one day!).
 
Seasons are slow moving, sometimes imperceptibly. Sometimes glacially! When we’re in a season of discomfort, or trouble, or dis-ease the seasons move too slowly for our liking. At the start of the pandemic I called it a season. I still think that’s true – it’s just a much longer and slower season than I ever expected it to be. Weather, on the other hand, changes much more quickly. It blows in and out, bringing warmth or cool or precipitation, and then it moves on.
 
I think the spiritual lesson in this is that we need to be aware of both kinds of change at the same time. Our moods and emotions may rise and fall like the barometer, and our energy and focus may blow in and out with the wind. But at the same time we are in the midst of longer seasons of growing, nurturing, and hopefully flourishing – in time. We want it to be in the time of the weather, but it tends to be in the time of seasons.
 
It may come down to our perception. Can we trust in the ebb and flow of both weather and seasons in our spiritual lives? Can we honour the ups and downs? Can we accept it when a cold front storms in and chills our day, knowing that it will quickly blow out again soon? Can we remember that the weather and the seasons will happen regardless of how we feel about it, and that taking a step back and honouring the gifts they bring rather than fighting them is the path to peace?
 
You can’t change the weather, and you can’t rush the seasons – you can only change how you perceive them, and how you live and love in them. There are days, many days, when I wish I could live in a perfectly climate controlled environment and have it exactly the way I want it every day. But I’m certain it wouldn’t be long until I longed for some weather to happen!
 
(Click here for a video version of Noticings)

 

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

 

Noticings – May 11, 2022

NOTICINGS…

May 11, 2022

Maybe it’s what you choose to focus on? As I’m writing this I’m sitting on my front porch on our new Muskoka style chairs. The sun is shining brightly but I’m safely under a canopy. The breeze is blowing gently, and the birds are chattering in every direction. I have some instrumental music quietly playing, and I’m just soaking in and utterly savouring the bliss of this sacred moment.

Just another day in paradise, I guess. But it has surprised me today because as I sat down I intended to write about what I’ve been noticing lately, and that is the increasing coarseness and polarization in our society. I’ve noticed it on the highway as drivers weave in and out of lanes and extend their arms out open windows to demonstrate to neighbouring drivers how they’re feeling at that moment. I’ve noticed it in online discourse where the dividing line between ‘us and them’ seems to be more pronounced, and nastier, than ever. I’ve noticed it in myself as I walk around my neighbourhood and find myself negatively judging people whose lawn has the ‘wrong’ political sign on it.

I was ready to tear into that quite emphatically, and then I sat in this chair, and caught the breeze, and the birds, and the sunshine, and my world changed. Maybe it’s what you choose to focus on? Oh, there’s still lots around to potentially bring me down. I could be sitting here focused on the long grass that needs cutting, or the dandelions that pepper our lawn, both of which represent toil and chores. I could be seeing Noticings as yet another ministry task that clutters my to-do list. I could be stewing about how the thing I ordered has been delayed in delivery.

But none of that seems all that important right now. What’s important is focusing on something better, Something More. And these words from Hebrews 2 popped into my mind…
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrew 12:2-3 MSG)

What will you focus on today?
Shalom!

(Click here for a video version of Noticings)

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

Noticings – May 4, 2022

NOTICINGS…

May 4, 2022

The place was just buzzing. I arrived at the church on Tuesday morning and it was a hive of activity. A group of men were working in the back part of the property and attending to some repairs. A group of quilters were practicing their art in the Sun Room. A group of folks were receiving food donations for this month’s food drive. And a group of gardeners were gathering to resurrect our front gardens and bring beauty back to the front of the property. I met with a few people and waved at others as they walked by my study. Now, to be fair, if I arrived on another day at the same time there wouldn’t be nearly as much going on. Tuesdays have become a gathering day outside, especially in the nicer weather.

I can’t express how wonderful it felt to feel the energy that was swirling at the church that morning. There was something about walking from my car to my study and taking in all the various kinds of activity that moved me very deeply. It felt for a moment like all was right in the world. It felt like Faith United ‘used to’ feel in the before times, when these pockets of activity were not unusual at all.

But what I want to point out here isn’t that there was a lot of activity going on – it’s that there was a lot of ministry going on! Care of creation via working on our backyard area is ministry. Quilting projects that benefit various people or groups in the church is ministry. Food drives are ministry. Gardening groups beautifying the church and supporting pollinators and critters and habitats is ministry. And probably the most important aspect of ministry that was transpiring was in the supportive relationships that were being nurtured and strengthened as these ministries happened. Deep conversations between folks while planting, or sawing, or stitching, or receiving food are the rocket fuel that powers churches.

Worship time is great in that we all focus together and collectively pause to ponder and be inspired (hopefully). But the real work of the church happens when the church gets to work! That’s when faith goes from being a personal balm to a shared blessing. Oh, I know that those blessings – that overflowing love – is shared in countless ways beyond Tuesdays at the church. It’s just that this Tuesday I got to witness it in action – and, to quote Genesis 1 – I saw that it was very good!

Tuesday mornings at the church are a vivid example of what I’m always going on about at ‘offering time’ during Sunday worship. It’s the outflow of the love of God that fills us and needs modes of expression in the world. Well, everywhere I looked on Tuesday I saw love flowing! And what makes me feel even more wonderful is knowing that there is so much more love flowing through your lives and actions that I never get to see, but I know is flowing. How is God’s love flowing through you today? What ministry are you engaging in? I bet it’s beautiful!

(Click here for a video version of Noticings)

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

Noticings – April 27, 2022

NOTICINGS…

April 27, 2022

The internet can be so maddening. I love the internet. Can these seemingly opposite statements both be true at the same time? Yes, they can. In the way I do my work, and the way I live my life, the internet is an indispensable thing for me. Oh, I suppose I could find a way to get along without it, but life feels better when I’m plugged in. I’ve grown to count on my online connection just being there whenever I turn on one of my devices. I can’t imagine how these last two-plus years of pandemic would have gone if we collectively didn’t have the ability to use our technology to livestream worship, to have zoom meetings, to share things via our social media pages, and even to share things like this Noticings which comes to you via the internet. Not to mention the research I do online for things like The Porch and my sermons, and how email threads and weekly zoom coffee chats with colleagues have kept me afloat through the pandemic. So yes, it’s fair to say that I love the internet.

And I find it maddening. Sometimes it’s the content. Sometimes it’s the coarseness of human interaction online which too often dispenses with any sense of care or decorum and devolves into ugliness. Sometimes it’s the news of people standing for, advocating for, and doing things that I find abhorrent, but I can’t escape seeing it because it keeps intruding in my online places.

What’s most maddening though is when I can’t get connected! It’s so frustrating that one moment everything is flowing beautifully and the next moment you’re offline for some reason. You know that all your usual connections are functioning because you were all lit up a few minutes ago, but suddenly nothing seems to be working like it should. So you go through the list and follow the greatest technological wisdom ever shared: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” (it’s remarkable how often that works!). And if it doesn’t work on your devices then ultimately you go directly to the source (your modem) and turn it off and on. That’s called rebooting the system.

I bet you can see where this is headed. Our spiritual life is like the internet. Mysterious. Unseen. Yet powerful. It’s filled with wonderful connections, and marred by some maddening frustrations. When it’s all going well life feels fantastic – God’s Presence is everywhere and love abounds overflowingly. And then there are those times when nothing feels right. God was right here a minute ago, but now is nowhere to be found. And some of God’s people, well, they can be pretty maddening too. And I love them. Both can be true.

So if your Spirit-connection goes on the fritz intermittently I guess you need to figure out how to reboot your system. Like most things, it’s amazing how ‘turning yourself off and on again’ can work wonders. Maybe that’s a week of holidays (worked for me last week!). Maybe it’s a hot bath. Maybe it’s a walk in nature. Maybe it’s a hug. Maybe it’s a warm conversation. Maybe it’s immersing in art. Maybe it’s a quiet time of prayerfulness. It’s curious that the same things don’t always work. That’s mystery for you. But we need to try, because life feels better when we’re connected.

By the way, I wrote this Wednesday morning while my internet was out. If you don’t get it until Thursday, you’ll know what kind of maddening day I had. But I suspect after a few minutes all will be well. Right now I need to go and reboot the system.

(Click here for an online version of Noticings)

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

Noticings – April 13, 2022

NOTICINGS…

April 13, 2022

We are in the midst of Holy Week, the most sacred and special week of the Christian year. Below you will find the information about the various worship opportunities we have over the next few days. I hope you’ll be able to join us! If not, I hope you’ll at least read through the stories of Holy Week so that you can enter in and prepare well for Easter Sunday! We are following the Gospel of Luke this year, and you’ll find the stories in Luke 22-24.

As a bonus I invite you to watch the Easter Message from our Moderator, the Right Rev. Dr. Richard Bott. It’s just 4 minutes long, and you can find it by clicking this link.

Have a blessed and wondrous Holy Week!

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

Noticings… April 6, 2022

NOTICINGS…

April 6, 2022

I was putting my recycling and trash at the curbside this morning when it struck me that something was different. As I was walking back toward the house I figured it out. It felt like spring. The air was different. I paused for a moment, and I heard all sorts of birds noisily chirping away. I felt the breeze. It no longer had that sting of chill in it. It was soft, and gentle, and warm. I took a deep, deep breath and closed my eyes and looked up into the sun and felt it beaming down on my face as my hair tussled in the wind. I was beaming too – from ear to ear. Spring! Finally! The long range forecast shows no nights falling below zero for the next two weeks. I’m not quite ready for shorts and a beach umbrella yet – but there’s no denying it anymore. Spring has sprung. Praise God!

And then I saw it. It was just leaning there, minding its own business, but its presence disturbed my peace. Here I was revelling in the joyousness of a changing season and there it was reminding me of what was. I didn’t want the reminder. I wanted to leave that season behind. But the echoes of it remain, stubbornly refusing to go quietly. There was only one thing to do. It had to go. ‘It’ was a snow shovel. It was dutifully holding it’s post outside our front door ready to spring (pardon the pun) into action and help us clear away the snow from our steps and walkway. It was a good and useful tool, in its season. But this is not that season. We were grateful for it in its time, but that time had passed. It was time to put what was to rest, and embrace the new. So into the garage it went.

If only our spiritual turnings could be so easy. It’s actually pretty easy to turn and enter into a new season, spiritually. Usually they emerge and envelop you and it all feels like a beautiful and natural flow of spirit and energy. And then, inevitably, we see some of the ‘tools’ of our former way – our habits, our attachments, our initial reactions – and they remind us of things we’d rather leave behind. They disturb our peace. If only they were as easy to put away as my shovel was. But sometimes they don’t go quietly. Sometimes, even though we’ve ‘turned’ and embraced a new season, they keep popping up like a whack-a-mole clamouring for our attention.

The only real strategy is to keep on keeping on. Keep immersing yourself in the new season and the former season will eventually fade from view. Keep intentionally opening your heart to God’s loving presence and that presence will increasingly fill you. In another month it’ll be hard to even remember the chill of winter, because we’ll be so fully ensconced in spring. But if we let ourselves dwell too much on what was we may find ourselves wintering when we could be springing. The turning part is easy – staying on the journey and living a new season, a new way, takes work. Thankfully, we don’t have to do it alone. We have one another! And we have the constant presence of God, nudging us, sustaining us, and urging us to put away our shovels.

(Click here for a video version of Noticings)

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

Noticings… March 30, 2022

NOTICINGS…

March 30, 2022

You have probably heard the news of ‘the slap’ that occurred during the Oscars on Sunday night. In case you haven’t, a Black male presenter made a joke denigrating a Black woman’s medical condition, and her husband, a Black man responded by walking onto the stage and slapping the presenter. You may wonder why I took such great pains to include the description of their race. The reason is that race is integral to the story, and to the reactions to the incident.

To begin, the people involved are all well acquainted, friends even. There has also been some history of tension among them over the years. What I’m saying is that there are layers to this story that are not immediately evident. The predominant first reaction online has been that while the presenter crossed a line and did violence (and make no mistake, words can be much more damaging than a slap) – while that’s true the reaction has been that the slapper did worse by assaulting the presenter. “Violence in any form is never the answer,” goes the response. True. It must also be noted that such reactions come primarily from White persons, but they’re usually only focused on the physical act, not the verbal one. This story is playing out much differently in the Black community.

Black commentators I’ve read have argued emphatically that non-Black persons cannot understand the constant degradation of Black women’s bodies in society, media, and the workplace, and especially sensitive is the subject of Black women’s hair, which was the subject of the ‘joke’. But it wasn’t a hairstyle choice that was being mocked – it was a medical condition called alopecia, which when compounded with the endemic degradation of Black women’s bodies provoked the husband to lash out. Both presenter and slapper have publically apologized for their part, as they well should. Interestingly, in social media circles where White voices are dominant the presenter is defended and the slapper is denounced. Where Black voices are dominant it is reversed. The slapper is heralded for standing up to a bully and defending Black women.

This is all very nuanced and complicated. The layers of race, and racism, in this are complex. I am not sure that I should have even tried to lift this up. As many voices have said online, “White people ought to sit this one out.” Had either or both the presenter or slapper been White this story would have played out very differently. It’s a strong reminder to all of us that situations have nuance and complexity, and when racial minority is involved we (the dominant White culture) all must press pause and be quicker to listen than speak.

Is this a spiritual issue? Absolutely. ‘Otherness’ takes many forms – race, ethnicity, gender, orientation, ability, education, experience, etc. Our ability to understand the depth of ‘the other’, their wholeness, their humanity, their strengths, their inconsistencies, their being, is at the core of what ‘love of neighbour’ means. And we pray that ‘the other’ will strive to see our wholeness as well.
And if you want to know what my ‘hot take’ on this is, well, I’m not going to share it. I’m going to sit this one out, and just listen, and learn, and seek to understand. Because today, that’s what neighbour-love looks like.

(Click here for a video version of Noticings)

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

Noticings – March 23, 2022

NOTICINGS…

March 23, 2022

Yesterday morning I stepped out on the deck and breathed deeply. It was a beautiful, sun shining morning, and where I stood it was protected from the wind so it felt (and looked) quite warm. Out on the road for the afternoon dog walk, however, it was quite chilly. In the morning I was thinking “spring has sprung!” In the afternoon I was thinking “nope, still wintery.” It occurred to me that we’re in that awkward and unpredictable time that’s in-between winter and spring.

We’re in-between in a lot of things right now. Some of them are good, and some of them are very challenging. A good one is that we’re back to in-person worship, and we’re committed to online excellence, but we’re in-between having all the tech and the know-how to make it all great. A new second camera is on the way which will open up many possibilities for us, once we learn how to use it. But for now we’re in-between what we want to be able to do and what we can do.

As pandemic safety mandates start to be relaxed we find ourselves in-between desperately wanting to tear off our masks and hug everyone we see, and being wisely cautious about going too quickly without sufficient scientific assurance that it’s safe, and dreading the idea that we might cause yet another wave of illness, or even be infected ourselves, or infect a vulnerable person.

And, of course, here in the middle of the Season of Lent we find ourselves in-between the energized newness of starting a journey and the looming angst of Holy Week and the cross. Not to mention the personal reflecting that Lent invites us into and the stuff that stirs up. When we do that inner work we see how we’re in-between in our being. Like the coming of spring we’re in that awkward and unpredictable time in-between being the person of faith we aspire to be, and falling disappointingly short of the mark. Truth be told, humans are probably always in that state of in-between-ness, but I wonder if in Lent we might notice it more.

The thing about in-between-ness is it always feels unresolved, unsettled, and often unsatisfying. The way through in-between-ness is to try to find peace in the moment, joy in the wondering, and hope in the possibilities that are on the cusp of emerging. It helps to remember that you are not alone! A season of in-between-ness is a season of becoming. It’s rich, and liminal, and transformational – but in-between-ness ain’t easy. Shalom as you squirm friends!

(Click here for a video version of Noticings)

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

Noticings… March 16, 2022

NOTICINGS…

March 16, 2022

Two Sundays ago it was 15 degrees C and it felt remarkably like spring was going to begin. It was just a tease, of course. Intellectually we all knew that – but it didn’t stop me from wanting to believe that we were all done with snow. Last Sunday was much cooler, but I thought it was going to be a nice day. I was wrong. By the time I drove home from church it was snowing hard, with white-outs on some sections of the road. Then it just kept snowing, and snowing. Sigh. I looked out at my driveway that night and went and charged up the batteries for my snow blower, expecting to have to use it the next morning.

When I woke up on Monday I saw lots and lots of snow, but this time I looked at the weather forecast and saw that the temperature was going to climb and climb all week to double digits again. So I looked at my driveway and said, “I’ll let God do it!” Sure enough, here we are on Wednesday and my driveway is completely clear. My strategy worked perfectly.

Some days I wish life could be like that. It would be great to look at the problems in the world and just be able to say, “I’ll let God do it.” Wouldn’t it? There’s an environmental crisis. We need to change our consumption habits. “I’ll let God do it.” Racism and white privilege are insidiously wreaking havoc. We need to awaken people and move their hearts and minds. “I’ll let God do it.” People need a living wage, and the housing market is unjust. “That sounds complicated, and costly. I’ll let God do it.” There are devastating wars in Ukraine, Myanmar, Yemen, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, and too many more places. “That’s above my pay grade. I’ll let God do it.”

Of course it doesn’t work that way. But rather than be discouraged and defeated, what if we turned it all around? What if instead of trying to solve the world’s problems all at once, I just worked on my own inner world first? We know the metaphor well. If a plane has an emergency we’re instructed to put on our own air mask first before trying to help others. If we rush to help before we’re steady, we may become part of the problem.
The Season of Lent helps us focus on that inner world. Like with this verse we sang recently:
          God, replace my stony heart with a heart that’s kind and tender.
          All my coldness and fear to your grace I now surrender.
          Spirit open my heart.

I really do want to live a more Christlike life, and to do my part to lean into all those terrible problems and challenges in the world. But I know I don’t have what it takes on my own. I need to allow the Spirit to open my heart and let it be renewed, and reshaped, and recharged. It’ll be hard, but I think I know how the rejuvenation of my heart might happen. Can you guess? (I’ll let God do it.)

Shalom,
Rev. Larry

Noticings – March 9, 2022

NOTICINGS…

March  9, 2022

Watching the news these days takes some courage. We seem to be lurching from crisis to crisis. On one level I’m relieved and grateful that the swirl is not directly impacting me. But the truth is that as I read I’m drawn into the anxiety and worry of it, and I can’t seem to look away. I suspect you are feeling some of that too. It’s heartbreaking. It’s especially hard when we are witness to such injustice and violence being perpetrated upon innocent people, and we feel like there’s nothing we can do.

Oh, we can offer thoughts and prayers – and I do actually believe that such things matter. But it doesn’t feel like enough. Solving geopolitical quagmires is decidedly above my pay grade, and even speaking intelligently about them is a stretch. So if you’re like me you’re flailing around looking for something real and helpful to offer. I’d like to tell you about one such project.

Many of you will remember our former music facilitator Oksana, and that Ukraine is her homeland. Oksana has reached out to us with an invitation to tangibly help her home nation. Here is what she said,
“It’s with the heavy heart that I am reaching out to the communities I know personally. As you already know, my homeland Ukraine is under brutal attack of Russian army and their dictator leader Putin. Please, let me know if your church will be open for donation of essential supplies to the Humanitarian Aid organization.”

On your behalf, I told Oksana that Faith United would be eager to help!
Below is a list of supplies that this organization has requested. If you have something to contribute, please take it to Faith United on:
Thursday March 17 between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm
so it can be included in the shipment. If you cannot make that time work please contact Stacey in the church office to make alternate arrangements.
Stacey and some of our church youth are coordinating this project.

You could also make a monetary donation through the group Oksana is working with http://4th-wave.org/
or through the United Church at https://united-church.ca/

Every little bit helps, and it will feel good to be able to do something, anything tangible in the face of such hardship and horror.
And in the meantime, keep praying for peace!

List of items
Diapers for children and adults ( various sizes), Disposable wipes
Hygiene products: shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, Women pads, Baby food ( long storage), baby formula, dry milk, Protein Powder,
Medical products: band-aids, vitamins, Tylenol (adults/kids), Advil (adults/kids)
Sleeping bags ( new or gently used and washed), Towels (new), Socks woman/ man/kids, Men’s boots (Working)
There is no need for clothes at this time. All items should be new and unopened.

Thank you for standing with Ukraine!

Shalom,
Rev. Larry
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