Labour Day Weekend

Second weekend at “the cottage”!  We didn’t get much work done this weekend, as Harbourview Days were rescheduled from earlier in the summer.  Bob and I were both involved in that.  It was also my niece’s, Ashlynn, third birthday.

We’re still working on making sure the church is weather tight, and are slightly on hold for that until we sell enough pews to pay for repairs to the steeple.  It’s not a bad thing though.  The property needs to be reassessed as there is some sort of clerical error – the online registry states that the property size is much larger (a badly placed decimal) than what it really is.  It also states that there is a full basement (nope) and washroom facilities (where have they been all my life?!? lol) so we don’t want too change too much before reassessment as we’ve challenged our property taxes for 2016.  It’s really easy for there to be errors when your church property is converted to residential.  How many churches actually look at what the property registry says about their property?  To add to the complexity of the situation, the land registry office has been moved from a local office in the district to a “regional” one.  The regional one is in Sydney – 3 hrs away.

On to the brighter, this water cooler came from family friends.  Their cottage was built in the early 70’s (I’ll have to verify when) and they thought the cooler came from the Upper River School House (It’s the first cottage on the left when you turn on to the dirt road through the woods to Lundy).  My Dad started school there and my Mom joined him there for a few months after the Lower School (Albert and Dama Ehler’s) was closed before the new school with plenty of room opened across from Angus and Mary Luddington’s.  No one seems to be terribly sure where it came from though.IMG_0548

My Mom left us a little housewarming/anniversary present when she went over to plug the fridge in for us.  I think it fits in well.

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This was the view Friday morning.  Crazy cool.

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We (my sister, the kids and myself) took a break from the festivities on Friday night.  We hung out at our place until it was time to go back to the hall.  We found some ancient toys for Ashlynn to play with.  Anyone remember these?

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Photo Credit: Mindy Kelly Barrett (on my lap) 4 months, Ashlynn (on the right) 3 years old

Bob was the Minion in the parade on Saturday morning.  We thought we’d have a bit more fun with the costume before returning it.  I think it sums up our odd little family quite well!

Photo Credit: Mindy Kelly
Photo Credit: Mindy Kelly

Hopefully this won’t be our last visit before the snow flies.

Vacation

So I went to New Harbour for most of my vacation.  Cleaned the church A LOT (I love Lysol with Javex!), moved stuff around and climbed up to the steeple.  It’s quite high up, but I wanted to see for myself just how much rot was up there.  I wish I had gotten my Mom to take a picture (Dad and Bob were on strict orders not to let go of the ladder!) maybe next time.

Anyways, once I got up there, it was pretty cool to see how they structured the inside.  I was also relieved to see less rot than I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong – I could see the sky when I shouldn’t have been able too.  And I couldn’t see all sides of the beams, so there may still be some unexpected surprises.  However, we can now move forward with the plan of just replacing the rotten boards and re-shingling instead of having to re-do the whole end of the church.  Hopefully, with the sale of a few pews, we’ll be able to get it weather tight before winter.  I hope.

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Steeple. See the light? You shouldn’t see the light.
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Looking towards the other end. I wish the lighting was better. This picture just doesn’t do it justice.
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Rotten wood, dirt, bird droppings, and part of the trap door.
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Where I accidentally busted the ancient hinge that I didn’t know was there. There was only one way to open the trap door and they hinged it that way from the inside. I had no clue until after I got it open that there were hinges that were rusted in place! The door itself was so rotten that it will need to be replaced.
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Busted hinge and a cobweb. Yeah, it was creepy like that.
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Rotten wood, dirt, mold?, bird droppings?, and “the wiring”.

On the way back down I removed the last, and nastiest old blind (much to everyone’s amazement!). Once I got all the way down, we decided that we could sleep there, even if there was crazy rain.  We did have a slight problem though.  In the cleaning and mold ridding frenzy, we took down the blinds.  Even if we hadn’t, the strings were so rotten they crumbled when touched.  We set up the former “minister’s room” as a dressing area, but what would we do when the light came streaming in?  After some creative thinking, we setup the tent – an instant room! I just wish I had taken a picture.  Next time 🙂

Normally, we don’t let the dogs sleep with us, but I wanted them to get used to the idea of sleeping in a tent so we could possibly take them camping.  Skipper LOVED the idea.  He happily put himself to bed very early.  Maggie was a different story.  She was awake the whole first night.  Jumping on the air mattress, jumping off the air mattress.  Giving Bob kisses on his forehead, whacking me in the face with her tail.  Kissing me on the forehead while whacking Bob in the face with her tail.  At 4am, Bob, Skipper and I decided we’d had enough of Maggie’s excitement and put them in the kennel.  Maggie was NOT ok with that.  She proceeded to drag the kennel towards the tent.  It’s a big kennel, she’s just 10lbs!  So I rooted around and found a light, shone it into the kennel and told her “night, night”.  We slept until 9am.  The next night went much better.  Less agitation from Maggie.  Skipper is now a devoted air mattress and tent fan.

We’re planning to spend Labour Day Weekend there, which will also coincide with our anniversary. 🙂

Once we get the roof tight again, our next goal is a composting toilet and rain water collection system.  Our goal is to be as “off grid” as possible.  At this point the lot isn’t big enough for a septic field and being as close to the cemetery as it is, we doubt that any water would be potable.  At this point it makes the most sense to bring drinking water from my parents’ place and use rain water for washing hands, dishes, etc.  Our good friends, Jeff and Kara, have a great collection and gravity fed tap system.  We are thinking we will likely be able to rig up something similar fairly easily.  Hopefully, with any kind of luck, we’ll be ready for overnight guests by Labour Day Weekend 2017 – that is if you don’t mind roughing it a little bit 😉

Oh yeah! One last picture before signing off tonight.  This is “our” beach 🙂

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Our “beach” 🙂

The river was quite low (we’re in a drought in Nova Scotia) so there was way more beach than usual. Maggie was so muddy after 20 mins of sniffing around down there! lol  I can’t wait to go swimming there – maybe my niece Ashlynn will be up for a little splashing with me on Labour Day Weekend…

July 10 2016

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Levite

Priest

Samaritan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Gospel Parallels

The Good Samaritan

Lectionary Studies

 

Worship Outline:

Hymn: Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love VU 593
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle & Love Candle

Hymn: We Are Pilgrims VU 595
Call to Worship
One: Welcome! Welcome to a place where each of us are different.
All: In the United Church of Canada, we value diversity.
One: Welcome to a place where diversity of thought is respected and encouraged.
All: In the United Church of Canada, we challenge each other and ourselves to examine empire and the hierarchy it upholds.
One: It’s a work in progress, but we are committed.
All: We are committed to welcoming all, in our worship and in our faith community.

Opening Prayer
May this be a time of self-reflection and discernment. May the Holy Spirit fill this place. May we be moved by the Holy Spirit and our own reflections to act with Love. Amen.

Hymn: This Is My Commandment Joyful Noise 131

Who is your neighbour?
Readings: Luke 10:25-37
Hymn: Christ Has No Body Now but Yours MV 171

People in Your Neighbourhood

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
We give because we can. We know that our abundance can affect the lives of others.

Offering

Offertory What Can I Do? MV 191

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR, as well as our gifts of time and talent become agents of change in the lives of others. May they be used for the good of the whole. Amen.

Prayer Music: Put Peace into Each Other’s Hands MV 173 v 5

Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing: Like A Rock MV 92

Reflection:

The Good Samaritan
In two week’s time, we’re hosting a Vacation Bible School. Our theme “Who is My Neighbour?” is based on the story of The Good Samaritan and getting to know the different people around us. I’m looking forward to this, and have been prepping some art work to tell the story to the kids. So when it was time to work on worship this week, I was pleased to discover the story was The Good Samaritan. So let’s dig in and do a little reflecting on this story that inspires so many people.
Who are the characters?
We’re going to start with the people involved.

The Lawyer
The first part of this passage isn’t part of the actual Good Samaritan story. It’s more of an introduction. The funny part is that this introduction bit is in both Matthew and Mark as well, but the story that follows it is only in Luke. But this introduction is almost as much of a lesson as the story that follows it. The Lawyer is obviously an educated person. Even with all this education though, the Lawyer is still having difficulty understanding what to do. The Lawyer even quotes the teaching from the ancient scriptures back to Jesus word for word, but still doesn’t understand how to use them. The Lawyer questions Jesus further and Jesus replies with the Good Samaritan. In the Matthew and Mark versions of the story, Jesus responds back with questions which go unanswered. While the interpretation of the story is left up to us, in this version from Luke, the questions are answered and a commissioning is given: “Go and do likewise.”

The Person
We don’t know much about the person who is injured in the story of the Good Samaritan other than the person is travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. It wouldn’t have been an easy trek, and obviously the person had more wealth than the robbers – or so the robbers thought. The Person was travelling alone, so it was most likely a man, as very few women would have made that kind of journey alone. From what I’ve read about it many women in this day and age wouldn’t make the journey alone, but more about the road a little later. We can assume the person in this story is a Hebrew person, as Jesus was telling this story to a group of Hebrew people. When you are in a larger group of people, it is assumed that all people in the story are in the majority of the listening audience unless explicitly stated.

The Robbers
The robbers are also somewhat anonymous in this story. We know there was more than one of them. We know that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was and still is a haven for robbers looking to pounce on a trapped target, so we know the robbers were looking for an easy target.

The Priest
The Priest in the Hebrew community was someone from the tribe of Aaron. He would have had specific duties in the temple and would have been wearing specific type of garment. The Priestly people would have placed a heavy influence on the rites of worship. At that time, the priest would have believed that their ways of practicing the Hebrew faith were the right way.

The Levite
Similarly the Levite would have been someone from the tribe of Levi. People from the tribe of Levi also dressed a particular way, and firmly believed in a lack of material possessions. As with the Priestly tradition, the Levite traditional would have believed that their ways of practicing the Hebrew faith were the right way.

The Samaritan
A Samaritan is another branch of Hebrew faith. It means “Keepers of the Law”. The Samaritan would have dressed according the traditions of the Samaritan faith, and would have believed that their ways of practicing the Hebrew faith were the right way. We know the Samaritan was wealthy enough to have an animal accompany him, enough money to stay in an inn, and enough money to leave some with the Inn Keeper to look after the person.
All three people while Hebrew, would have had issues with each other’s faith practices, in a similar way to Unitarians, Catholics and Pentecosts. Just three very different ways of practicing. Fortunately for us, as religions and faith traditions have evolved, we’ve increased our understanding and respect for the different ways people choose to practice their faith.

The Inn Keeper
The Inn Keeper gets a relatively small role, which I think is somewhat of a disservice. The Inn Keeper was the one who offered a safe place for at least two of our travelers to stay. The Inn Keeper went above and beyond, at least in today’s day and age, to offer this safe haven to those who needed it most.

The Neighbour
While the lawyer gave Jesus a somewhat ambiguous answer: “the one who showed compassion.” It’s often assumed that the one who showed compassion was the Samaritan, I think the Inn Keeper deserves a nod of recognition too.
The title of neighbor goes both ways. One can be helped and one can do the helping. It’s in this cyclical action of helping and being helped that we begin working towards The Good of The Whole.
What is the setting?

The People
It’s a somewhat homogeneous setting, all of the people seem to be from the same geographic area and although they are from different faith traditions, all the faith traditions stem from the same root. The traveler, the Priest, the Levitite and the Samaritan all seem to be headed to Jericho from Jerusalem.

The Place
The Road From Jerusalem to Jericho is well known to all of those involved, except for perhaps the traveler. When I looked up information about this road, I found out that it was rocky and uneven, narrow and meandering along the edge of the mountain. It dangerous, not just because of the narrowness along the cliff, but because of the rocks and corners for robbers to hide in, making a person on the path quite vulnerable. Apparently it was even called the “Way of Blood” in reference to just how dangerous the journey would have been.

How does this relate to our current setting?
The beauty of the teachings of Jesus is the timelessness of his main message. If everyone treated each other the way they wished to be treated, it would be a very different world. Our current context seems to offer us very similar opportunities, only this time society becomes the robbers on the difficult and dangerous path that is life. Who do you see travelling on this dangerous path? How has our church become the compassionate one? Are there people we aren’t noticing? Are there people that we make a conscious decision to avoid or maybe make excuses to avoid? It’s so easy to do…oh I don’t have the time…I don’t have the money…I’m not whatever enough. There are more excuses than there are people to help. The trick is not taking the easy road. May we always look for ways to help on the hard road.

July 31st, 2016

Links of Interest/Biblography:
Peace Mala
Golden Rule Poster
Jane McGonigal TED Talk
Press Play TED Radio Hour
Charter for Compassion
The Work of the People – I’m Sorry
The Good Samaritan
A Song of Faith

Worship Outline:

Hymn               Love Devine, All Loves Excelling                VU 333                   Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle & Love Candle
Hymn     Spirit, open My Heart                                         MV 79

 Call to Worship
One: As we sing and as we pray,
All: Spirit, open our hearts.
One: As we speak and as we listen,
All:  Spirit, open our hearts.
One: As we reflect and as we transform,
All: Spirit, open our hearts.

Opening Prayer
We pray that love, grace and compassion fill us, as we work to listen, to feel, to understand what we might never have considered before.  May the truth be spoken with Love, may the words be heard with Compassion, may transformation come with Grace.  Holy Spirit, fill us, flood this place. Amen.

Hymn        Blessed Be the Tie That Binds                           VU 602

VBS Summary

Song: Love, Love, Love One Another

Compassion Video
Litany: Compassion: a litany evolving from Story & Faith
Words adapted from Luke 10:25-37 and A Song of Faith
One:  Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
All: In and with God,
we can direct our lives toward right relationship with each other and with God.
We can discover our place as one strand in the web of life.
One:  We can grow in wisdom and compassion.
We can recognize all people as kin.
We can accept our mortality and finitude, not as a curse, but as a challenge to make our lives and choices matter. Made in the image of God,
we yearn for the fulfillment that is life in God.
All:  “If you do this, you will live.”  If we do this, we will live.
One: Becoming bound and complacent in a web of false desires and wrong choices, we bring harm to ourselves and others.
All: A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.

All: This brokenness in human life and community is an outcome of sin. Sin is not only personal but accumulates to become habitual and systemic forms of injustice, violence, and hatred.
One: Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
All: So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
One: We are all touched by this brokenness:
the rise of selfish individualism that erodes human solidarity;
the concentration of wealth and power without regard for the needs of all;

One:  the toxins of religious and ethnic bigotry;
the degradation of the blessedness of human bodies and human passions through sexual exploitation;
All:  the delusion of unchecked progress and limitless growth that threatens our home, the earth;
One: the covert despair that lulls many into numb complicity with empires and systems of domination.
All:  We sing lament and repentance.
One: Because along came a Samaritan.
All: When the Samaritan saw him, he was moved with pity.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
One: Yet evil does not—cannot—
undermine or overcome the love of God.
All:  God transforms, and calls us to protect the vulnerable, to pray for deliverance from evil, to work with God for the healing of the world, that all might have abundant life.
We sing of grace.
One: The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
All:  The fullness of life includes moments of unexpected inspiration and courage lived out,
experiences of beauty, truth, and goodness, blessings of seeds and harvest, friendship and family,
One: intellect and sexuality, the reconciliation of persons through justice and communities living in righteousness, and the articulation of meaning.
All: Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
One: “The one who showed him mercy.”
All:  And so we sing of God the Spirit, who from the beginning has swept over the face of creation, animating all energy and matter and moving in the human heart.
One: “Go and do likewise.”

I’m Sorry Video

Minute for Mission
There are many ways to offer compassion to others.  I invite you to prayerfully consider how St. Luke’s can offer compassion to others.

Offering Invitation
There are many ways to offer compassion to others.  I invite you to prayerfully consider how St. Luke’s can offer compassion to others.

Offering

Offertory  When Hands Reach Out and Fingers Trace                  MV 136

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and all of our time and talents become compassionate acts of Love. Amen.

Prayer Music:       In Loving Partnership We Come                       VU 603

Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus
During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice.  A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 921-927.

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing  Wherever You May Go                                       MV 216

July 24th, 2016

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

The Text This Week
Honest Prayer, Part 1
Spong on Prayer (Belief.net)
Did Jesus Teach Us to Pray the Lord’s Prayer? 
Rex Hunt Liturgies
Prayer of the Cosmic Christ (available on iTunes and Cd Baby)

Yeah, I was a little Spong heavy this week, but I like what the guy has to say.

I didn’t have a sermon this week, instead there was a three person panel interview.  I’ve included my responses (as best as I can remember them).

Worship Outline:
Hymn                     Open My Eyes                                      VU 371

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle & Love Candle

Hymn                     Dance With The Spirit                         MV 156
 Call to Worship
One: Come, join me in prayer.
All: We’ve come to worship.
One: Our worship is prayer.
All:  Our singing is prayer.
One: Our reflection is prayer.
All: Our listening is prayer.
One: Our acceptance is prayer.
All:  Our action is prayer.
One: Our lives are prayers, both asked and answered.  Come, join the prayer.

Opening Prayer
Source of unending Love,
May this be a time where words and actions come together to form a prayer more beautiful and powerful than we can possibly imagine. Amen.

Hymn                       Seek Ye First                         VU  356
A Handful of Prayer
Readings: Luke 11: 1-13
Prayer of the Cosmic Christ                                               rEvolve
Prayer Stories

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
There are many ways to pray.  One way is how you choose to spend your money.  I invite you to prayerfully consider your offering to St. Luke’s and the prayers that your offering can answer.

Offering

Offertory               It’s A Song of Praise                                            MV 30

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and all of our time and talents become the answer to many prayers. Amen.

Prayer Music:                       And When You Call for Me                MV 96

Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus
During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice.  A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 921-927.

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing                  May We but Wait                                MV 175

Interview Questions with my responses:

1. What is your first memory of praying? (who taught you to pray?)
I don’t remember when I learned how to pray, but my baby book says that I had both “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Now I Lay Me” memorized at three years old.
2. How has your prayer life changed over the years?  (who has influenced your prayer life?)
Spong, the speaker in the video earlier, has probably influenced my prayer life most.  I was introduced to him in theology school.  The idea of prayer being a transformation and something concrete, felt better to me than simply paying lip-service and doing nothing to change the problem.  Yoga also changed my prayer life.  Facing my ego each time I step onto my mat is like a prayer of confession for me.
3. Who do you pray to and why? (Who is paying attention to your prayers?)
I don’t believe that God is like Santa, I don’t pray to God.  I pray to a deep sense of compassion in people.  I pray to myself, and I pray to you.  My ultimate goal when I pray isn’t necessarily that our prayers be answered, but that we become the answers to someone else’s prayer.
4.  If you could define “prayer” what would your definition be? (What is the difference between praying and hoping?)
Prayer is the opportunity for transformation.
Prayer is the opportunity to reflect on the self and discover a hidden call.
Prayer is the opportunity to hear the concerns of others and the opportunity to offer miracles.
5. What is your preferred way to pray? (how do you make time to pray?)
Since I don’t believe that God hears and answers each of my prayers, my preferred way to pray is through deep conversation, compassionate action and yoga.
6. Could you pray with us?
I led a few Sun Breaths.

July 17, 2016

Links of Interest/Biblography:
Rex Hunt
Textweek.com
Left Behind and Loving it
Working Preacher – July 17 2016
Dear Working Preacher
At the Edge of the Enclosure
Progressive Involvement
Modern Metanoia
Taming the Elephant

Worship Outline:
Hymn     Be Thou My Vision                                               VU 642
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle & Love Candle

Hymn     My Love Colours Outside the Lines                  MV 138

 Call to Worship
One: We come together to celebrate God’s presence among us.
All: We come together to share our abundance.
One:  We come together to offer love.
All: We come together to worship.

Opening Prayer (Rex Hunt)
Abiding God of the morning, the afternoon, the evening,
grant us the joy of feeling ourselves
a part of your vast magnificence,
your all-encompassing love.
May it be so.

Hymn     Take My Life                                             VU 506

Mary & Martha
Readings: Luke 10: 38-42
Behold the Face of Christ                                                   MV 114
Martha’s Anxiety

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
The creative surrounds us.  Let’s take some time to give from our abundance.

Offering

Offertory               What Can I Do?                                    MV 191

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR be sparks of creativity in the work towards the good of the whole. Amen.

Prayer Music:       Come To My Heart                              VU 661

Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus
During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice.  A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 921-927.

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing  May God’s Sheltering Wings             MV 214

Reflection:

There is a force within
that gives you life-
Seek that.
In your body there lies
a priceless jewel –
Seek that.
Oh, wandering Sufi.
If you are in search
of the greatest treasure,
don’t look outside,
Look within, and seek That.

-Rumi 1207-1273
Trans. Jonathan Star

The story of Mary and Martha or Martha and Mary isn’t a story of service verses education. It’s a story about letting social anxiety get the best of us. Let me explain. Martha was doing what was expected of her. She was hustling and bustling about, being the gracious hostess. Normally Mary, her sister would be there to help her. Anyone who has a relationship with their sisters, similar to the relationship I have with mine, can tell you, pulling off a party is much easier with your sisters. But Martha is finding herself overwhelmed and when she goes off to find Mary, she finds her sister has flaked on her and is sitting, listening to Jesus. Mary is doing the opposite of what is expected of her.
As a woman, Mary wouldn’t have been included in the teaching time. As a sister, she was needed to help with preparations. But Mary didn’t seem to have any qualms about not doing what was expected of her. My hunch is that Martha wanted to sit and listen too, but because she was so focused on doing what was expected of her, that she couldn’t get out of the kitchen. Pulling off being the perfect hostess isn’t as easy as it seems. In fact, you rarely get to enjoy the party yourself, you are so busy. If Martha hadn’t been so wrapped up in the perceived success of the gathering, she might have been able to enjoy it a bit more. But that’s what social anxiety is: worrying so much about what others think of you that it keeps you from enjoying life. It’s the worrying about things that don’t matter that Jesus was warning her about.
I was surprised to learn that many medieval paintings of Martha portrayed her as captor over a dragon. Martha wields control over the dragon with her girdle. That’s quite the symbolism for taming the anxious mind! I find this idea of a dragon representing the mind interesting. In the yogic and Tibetan tradition, learning to meditate is referred to as ‘taming the elephant’. There is a traditional drawing that accompanies this description. It starts with a monk chasing an elephant, which is being led by a monkey up the mountain. As the journey progresses, the monk eventually closes the gap and becomes the one leading the elephant, near the end they rest together and by the end the monk is riding the elephant. The monkey goes from leading the elephant, to following the elephant, to following the monk, to leaving the picture all together. The elephant and the monkey go from being cloudy and dark to being clear. The stormy, rocking surroundings at the bottom of the mountain have cleared by the top of the mountain. It’s a beautiful picture that demonstrates that with practice and dedication, the unimaginable is possible, but first we must tame the elephant.
In our scripture today, Jesus is telling Martha to tame her elephant. He’s telling her to not let her perceptions of what anyone “should” be doing keep her from doing what she enjoys. This is a message that every church needs to be reminded of. In the last 10 years, if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone refer to the congregation as the people who are here every Sunday, sun, snow or shine, not only would my student loans be paid off, but we’d be making major headway on our mortgage too. Somewhere along the way we’ve gotten stuck and forgotten that church is more than just Sunday mornings. While for some people, sitting and listening is what feeds them, for others it is going out and doing the work. Each person needs to choose for themselves which is more important for them, how they will live out their understanding of church. Perhaps you are a Mary, faithfully attending each worship, listening and understanding. Perhaps you are a Martha, working for the good of the whole, offering your talents and skills. Perhaps you are a Mary, counter-cultural and shaking things up with your privilege. Perhaps you are a Martha, doing what’s expected of you, pulling your share and maybe more. If you are a Mary, are you happy? Do you feel your spiritual life is fulfilled? If you are a Martha, are you happy? Do you feel your spiritual life is fulfilled? What is it that you are seeking? Is there a tricky monkey that is leading your elephant? What can we as a community do to ensure that all of the Martha’s and Mary’s feel valued and appreciated?

June 19 – Father’s Day and Conference Sunday

No reflection today, it was a report back from all of the people who went to Maritime Conference Annual Meeting from St. Luke’s.  We used our favorite music from Conference (plus a few other pieces), and showed the video of Rev. Matthew Fillier’s spoken word from Conference.

Links of interest:

Facebook Live Stream of Saturday night worship
Spoken Word
Intermediates and Youth Forum Highlights

Worship Outline:

Hymn: Faith of Our Fathers VU 580
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle & Rainbow Candle

Hymn: Who Is My Mother MV 178

Call to Worship
One: When the world is filled with sadness
All: hope can be found in a loving community
One: When the world is filled with anger
All: the voice of reason will be strengthened by a loving community
One: When a culture needs to shift
All: shifting begins when a loving community changes takes action
One: When we are unsure about what to do next
All: we pray as a loving community.

Opening Prayer
Today we pray for people who feel alone. We pray that they will reach out to someone, or that someone will reach out to them. We pray that our worship may be filled with moments of connection, moments of grace, and moments of courage. May this worship be transformative and filled with love. Amen.

Hymn: Don’t Be Afraid MV 90

Intermediates At Conference

Hymn: Common Thread All God’s Children Sing 81

Youth Forum

Music Ministry: I Will Sing unto the Lord

Others at Conference

Spoken Word by Matthew Fillier (Past President of Maritime Conference)

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
The work of the conference is funded by our offerings. We have all contributed to the experience you heard about. Each gift that you give has importance and meaning to someone else.

Offering

Offertory: Your Work, O God VU 537

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR be used to help build a community of caring and compassionate people. Amen.

Prayer Music: Sisters Let Us Walk Together MV 179

Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing: Ameni MV 219

June 12 – Sunday School Closing

Sunday School Closing – no reflection, but there was a really great story!

Worship Outline:

Hymn: I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy          Joyful Noise #89
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Opening Prayer
Hymn: Give Me Oil in My Lamp         Joyful Noise #14
Story: Jesus’ Day Off by Nicholas Allan
Hymn: I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me         VU #575
Bursary Presentations
Hymn: This Little Light of Mine         Joyful Noise #132
Sunday School Thank -you
Prayer Music: Every Time I Feel The Spirit    Joyful Noise #96
Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus
Offering
Offertory: For Health & Strength              Joyful Noise #8
Musical Blessing Do Lord, O Do Lord       Joyful Noise #5

June 5

It’s been a while since I told a story in a midrash type of way.

Worship Outline:

Hymn     All Things Bright and Beautiful                             VU 291
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Candle
Hymn     Come, O Fount of Every Blessing                              VU 559
 Call to Worship
One: We gather today, to tell a story.
All: A story of overcoming scarcity.
One: A story of abundance.
All: A story of hospitality
One: We gather today, to share the history of the followers of The Way that Jesus taught.
All: We gather today to celebrate the future for those who choose to follow The Way.

Opening Prayer
Spirit of Abundance,
Be present with us as we grow in understanding and courage.
Amen.
 
Hymn  Praise Our Maker                       VU 316
Surprise!
The Word:  1 Kings 17:8-16
Abundance
 
Hymn  For the Healing of the Nations        VU 678
Minute for Mission
Offering Invitation
Sometimes it can be challenging to change a culture.  So let’s turn this time of offering into a time of covenanting with ourselves and each other: it is time to change the Maritime church culture’s attitude about money.  May your offering be a symbol of a commitment to living out St. Luke’s abundance.
Offering
Offertory  Your Work, O God                                             VU 537
Offering Prayer
We offer these gifts and those given through PAR in recognition of our abundance.  May we understand what it truly means to have enough.  Amen.

A Litany to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the Ordination of Lydia Gruchy: “Come Celebrate…” (Su Yon Pak)
One: Come and celebrate God who calls women to tend the flame.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
One: Come and celebrate the courage of women who heard their call and,
with a fire in their bones, stepped out of the shadow.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
One: Come and celebrate the lives of women who,
even in their mountaintop experiences, never forgot their valleys.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
One: Come and celebrate the work of women who
recognised the risen Lord in the breaking of bread
and in the opening of scripture.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
One: Come and celebrate the perseverance of women
who are still struggling to have their gifts recognised by their churches.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
One: Come and celebrate women who paved the road to ordination for others and encourage us to work for those who will follow.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
 
Prayer Music: Walk with Me                                       VU 649 (chorus only)
Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus
Commissioning and Benediction
Musical Blessing    Let All Things Now Living                   VU 242

Reflection:

Bill sighed as he closed the lid of his laptop. He had just received another email from the church treasurer. This month’s budget sheet was attached and it ended with red. It had been a long time since First United had balanced at the end of the month. A very long time. Bill couldn’t understand why First was having such financial trouble. The church was located on Main St in a small commuter town. The congregation was equally filled with people who had been coming to First their whole lives and people who came to First because it was part of the community they lived in and stayed because they liked the atmosphere. But the last couple of years, they had been different.
When Bill had been called to First, the sanctuary had been full every Sunday. But that was nearly ten years ago. The sanctuary was still reasonably full, but everyone was ten years older, and many of the people who had been teens and early 20s ten years ago had settled elsewhere. Between rising housing costs and the lure of the oil patch, there were legitimately fewer people in their 30s and 40s attending First, but when Bill considered Canadian statistical trends in general, they really weren’t that far off base. It just felt that way. Bill knew the folks on the council were tired. He knew they were ready to tap out when they were given the opportunity. He knew they were having trouble building enthusiasm for the growing number of fundraisers.
The phone beside Bill was suddenly ringing. Bill looked at the call display. It was Alana. Alana was the member at large on council. She was a “lifer” at First, looking after her ailing and very senior father, Alana had left her spouse and their university aged child in Ontario to look after her father. She was an only child, and while her parents had planned for retirement, they hadn’t planned for a 20 year retirement. That left Alana and her spouse looking after three households with one income: The home Alana grew up in that had been somewhat converted to a hospice, their family home which was paid off, but needed some expensive updates in order to net its true value and their son’s in-law suite. When he had gone to university, Alana and her spouse had made the wise decision to purchase a house with an in law-suite near the school. The deal was he would live in the in law suite rent free, but was responsible for his own utilities, groceries, and tuition. In return, he would act as building supervisor to the upstairs tenants. Alana’s son though, was well into a second degree and saving up to pay his 1/3 of his wedding the next summer. Bill knew that if there was anyone who understood tight budgets, it was Alana.
“I’ve had an unsolicited offer on Dad’s house.” Alana said. “It’s a little under value, but it would be a huge headache to prepare the house for sale. I’m thinking of accepting.”
Bill’s stomach dropped. Alana and her father were among First’s most consistent, not to mention generous givers. Between the two deaths this year, the handful of couples who were seriously considering moving West with their children’s families, and the three others on waiting lists to go into nursing homes, this could be really problematic.
Bill’s fears were confirmed in his next conversation with the treasurer.
“Unless we dip into the reserves, we don’t have quite enough for the bills this month…including your pay cheque.”
Bill quickly went through the due dates for his bills in his mind and made a mental note to cancel the cable – just in case.
“Don’t panic yet. I’m glad we have the reserves to draw on until we figure this out. Let me think about it for a couple of days.” said Bill.
Bill thought about it for two weeks. He knew what needed to happen, but it was going to be hard. Bill broached the topic at the next council meeting.
“I’d like us to establish a visioning committee. There’s real possibility in this neighborhood, but we won’t know what the potential is until we know the community better, I mean until we look beyond ourselves, beyond Sunday morning.”
The response was as Bill predicted:
“We don’t have any extra money.”
“We don’t have any extra time.”
“Once my mother is buried from here, I’ll happily help you transform this place or sell it.”
Bill asked them “Do you trust that I have the best interests of this community at heart?”
The council knew that he did.
“We set up a future directions committee to do the background research and come up with a sustainable, long-term plan and then we use some of the reserve money to launch the plan.”
The protests started, “But the reserve fund isn’t that big…”
“The money is in trust, it must only be used for specific things…”
“It’s for a rainy day…”
The protesting stopped when Bill said, “All I’m asking is that we spend a little time doing the research. Wouldn’t it be better to go out knowing we did our best, then to have the church die with money left over and nothing accomplished?”
Let’s pray.
God, whose spirit gives us courage when we seem to have nothing else, we are thankful for our abundance. We are thankful for the Love that we share. We pray that we are always able to remember that these relationships are the source of all that we have. May it be so.