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Feb 20
Loving our Enemies

​This week's Gospel is the account of Jesus asking us to love our enemies.  Counfouding?  Indeed, this is one of Christ's most challenging commands.  This challenge has been written into song by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.  We thought it might be helpful for your prayer this week.

Christ, Your Words of Love Confound Us
BEACH SPRING 8.7.8.7 D (“God Whose Giving Knows No Ending”)

Christ, your words of love confound us, even as we give you praise,
for the lessons that you teach us seem so far from this world’s ways.
How can we love those who hate us? How can we love enemies?
What of people who abuse us? How can we love even these?

Make us mindful: love is action, not a feeling that uplifts.
In each daily situation, love’s the greatest of all gifts.
It’s the wiser, stronger person who will break the chain of hate.
Love can usher in redemption; love can make a people great.

Faced with those who seek to hurt us, make us confident and free:
you don’t call us to be helpless but to stand with dignity.
Lord, when others are demanding, may we know they matter more
than our money or possessions. May we share, not keeping score.

If we love just those who love us, where’s the giving? Where’s the grace?
Even sinners try to do this; they have friends that they embrace.
May we do, Lord, unto others as we’d have them also do.
You have shown us: Love is action. May we love, and make things new.

Biblical Reference: Luke 6:27-38; Matthew 5:38-48; I Corinthians 13
Tune: The Sacred Harp, 1844; attributed to Benjamin Franklin White 
Text: Copyright © 2019 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: carolynshymns [at] gmail [dot]com 
New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com

Posted on http://globalworship.tumblr.com/post/182927245930/christ-your-words-of-love-confound-us-new-hymn 

Feb 04
Kids in Church

When we give presentations about parenting, Michael and I often cite this passage: 

Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.

It is from the philosopher Socrates.  The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?  Each generation worries about the future of the next.  We recall that we were better behaved, had better manners, had a more balanced lifestyle than the generation which is coming up.  That's probably a good bit of fiction.  It's just that we survived the risks and temptations we faced mostly intact and we fear that the unknown risks and temptations facing our children are worse.  They are different.  Some of them may be worse than we faced.  And some of them lesser.  In any case, as church, it seems to me that our job is to do the best we can to pass on the best of what we have to our children all the while trusting that God is in charge.  We need to welcome the next generation of children with acceptance and openness.  If we do not have children or if ours are no longer at home with us, we need to become the kind of community that welcomes and supports the young familes who bring their children to church in all their messiness and bad manners and complexity.  

Here's a very good article from America Mazazine about children in church:  http://bit.ly/2HRvyrd.  Enjoy!

Christine 

Oct 30
All Saints and All Souls

​November is a wonderful time of the liturgical year in which we celebrate the fact that to be human is to be connected to all other humans - living and dead.  Our unity as brothers and sisters is not severed by death.  We grieve when we lose those we love but we do not grieve as those who do not have faith in God's promise of eternal life.  We celebrate those who have lived lives of virtue and now live in heaven as saints.  And we pray for all those who have died, and still await the reward of heaven.  

For more on why Catholics pray for the dead, you may like to read this article - Praying for the Dead -  by Father Ron Rolheiser. 

May 07
A Prayer for Mother's Day

This weekend, we celebrate Mother's Day.  There are so many different ways to be a mother and so many different experiences of motherhood.  We found this wonderful prayer that acknowledges these varied experiences and holds them up to God in prayer.

A Prayer for Mother’s Day

I want you to know I’m praying for you if you are like Tamar, struggling with infertility, or a miscarriage.

I want you to know that I’m praying for you if you are like Rachel, counting the women among your family and friends who year by year and month by month get pregnant, while you wait.

I want you to know I’m praying for you if you are like Naomi, and have known the bitter sting of a child’s death.

I want you to know I am praying for you if you are like Joseph and Benjamin, and your Mom has died.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if your relationship with your Mom was marked by trauma, abuse, or abandonment, or she just couldn’t parent you the way you needed.

I want you to know I am praying for you if you’ve been like Moses’ mother and put a child up for adoption, trusting another family to love your child into adulthood.

I want you to know I am praying for you if you’ve been like Pharaoh’s daughter, called to love children who are not yours by birth (and thus the mother who brought that child into your life, even if it is complicated).

I want you to know I am praying for you if you, like many, are watching (or have watched) your mother age, and disappear into the long goodbye of dementia.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you, like Mary, are pregnant for the very first time and waiting breathlessly for the miracle of your first child.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if your children have turned away from you, painfully closing the door on relationship, leaving you holding your broken heart in your hands. And like Hagar, now you are mothering alone.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if motherhood is your greatest joy and toughest struggle all rolled into one.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you are watching your child battle substance abuse, a public legal situation, mental illness, or another situation which you can merely watch unfold.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you like so many women before you do not wish to be a mother, are not married, or in so many other ways do not fit into societal norms.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you see yourself reflected in all, or none of these stories.

This mother’s day, wherever and whoever you are, we walk with you. You are loved. You are seen. You are worthy.

And may you know the deep love without end of our big, wild, beautiful God who is the very best example of a parent that we know.

Amen.

- A prayer for Mother’s Day, originally written by Amy Young, adapted by Heidi Carrington Heath


Mar 23
Jesus or Barabbas

Once when we were visiting with the Presentation sisters in Newfoundland, Michael and I heard a marvellous story from a sister who used to teach Grade 3. She told us that one year she was teaching her class about the story of Holy Week. As she was nearing the part where Pilate offers the crowd the choice to release Jesus or Barabbas, she looked over and saw one of her students with her legs and fingers crossed rocking back and forth rather insistently. She stopped the story for a minute and asked the little girl if she was okay.

"Yes, sister," replied the girl. She continued the story but the little girl continued to rock back and forth even more vigorously.

"My dear," asked the teacher, "do you have to go to the bathroom?"

"No sister," answered the girl but she continued to rock back and forth with her
legs firmly crossed and a worried look on her face.

"For heaven's sake, child, if you don't need to go to the bathroom why are you
rocking like that?" asked the teacher.

"Sister, I'm just really hoping that this year, … I'm just hoping…. Hoping they choose Jesus and not Barabbas."

In her innocence, this little girl thought that if she crossed her fingers and her legs and hoped with all her might, the story would change. People would choose Jesus instead
of Barabbas and the world would change!

This little girl at first may seem naive, but in truth, she grasps a fundamental truth held by Jews and Christians about our sacred stories. What we believe about these stories, is that they are not simply events of the past. Certainly, they are accounts about God's action in the lives of people thousands of years ago. But they are also accounts about how God continues to act in our lives today. When we remember our stories liturgically, we make them present again. God is eternal and God's love is always active in our lives. When we tell the stories of this eternal God, we participate in eternal time not linear time. Thus, we participate in the stories and live them just as we live the moments of ordinary time. Hence, when we hear the story of Jesus and Barabbas,we are actually in that crowd. We are actually faced with the choice. Will it be Jesus? Or will it be Barabbas?

It does not take a great deal of insight to see that the world today is not as
Jesus would have it be. Every day countless of innocent people are persecuted
and even prosecuted because their existence threatens the status, power or wealth of other people.  Daily the poor in underdeveloped nations are sacrificed so that those in
developed world can have cheap shoes, clothes, computers or trinkets. For instance, we recently learned that the manufacturing process used to make the "distressed denim" popular in the West is actually  lethal. The denim is made to look old by being sand blasted with silica particles. Many workers do not survive the constant aspiration of the particles
beyond a couple of  years. Those that do develop serious respiratory diseases. This is but one of many, many instances where the lives of those in poverty are considered dispensable.

We also see examples close to home - in our workplaces, families, schools and
local communities. We are daily called to stand up for those who are marginalised for any reason:  because they are poor or weak, because they are in a minority or because they
are taking an unpopular but righteous position.

Jesus tells us, however, that we will be judged ultimately not on how religious
we act or how many prayers we say. We will be judged on how we react to him
when we meet him in the face of those who need food, water, shelter, clothing or love. Whatever we do to the least of the members of our family, community or world, we do to
Jesus. Whenever we  choose to help those in need, we opt for Jesus. Whenever we choose something else, we opt for Barabbas.

So, it is true, each day, indeed, each moment of our lives, we get to choose anew. In this moment, will it be Jesus? Or will it be Barabbas?

by Christine & Michael Way Skinner


Mar 19
Reconciliation in our Hearts

"The Kingdom of God is within You," Jesus tells us. Do we really believe this?  How can this Kingdom reign of justice and peace and love rule in our weak and fragile hearts that so often fail to be loving or peaceful or to love as God made them to love?  This week, let us look at the ways in which we need to forgive ourselves for not living up to the dreams God has for us ... for not living up to the dreams we have for ourselves.  God, and only God, is perfect.  Let us forgive ourselves for our failures and our fragility and offer up our weaknesses to the One who made himself weak to save us.  This week, let us remind ourselves that no failing we have is greater than God's mercy.  Let us remember that we are immeasurably greater than our worst sin.  And let us add a ribbon to the Tree of Reconciliation to represent our attempts to forgive ourselves.  

Mar 15
A Virtual Way of the Cross

​Walking in the way of Christ's last hours has become a beloved way to eneter into the Paschal Mystery for Catholics for many ages.  Busted Halo - a site run by the Paulist Fathers in the United States - has created a virtual Way of the Cross.  We thought you might enjoy it.  Here is the link: http://bit.ly/2FXBDjB

Mar 15
Reconciliation with God

God is Love - boundless, faithful, incomprehensible love. God is slow to anger, compassionate and merciful towards us despite our weakness, sinfulness and inability to love fully. In Christ, we see God’s love in its most complete form.  Jesus was willing to give up his life for us so that we might live fully in this life and the next. For our part, however, we can take God’s love for granted and fail to spend the time that is needed to fulfil our part of the relationship.  How often have we found ourselves in times of trouble asking God for help only to realize how little we gave thanks and praise in times of bounty and blessing.  How often have we engaged in building our own small kingdoms of power, influence and comfort rather than engage in building the Kingdom of God where the least of our brothers and sisters are cherished, fed and loved. And how often have we neglected to place God at the centre of our lives rather than make a small space at the periphery. This week let us make attempts to reconcile with God and add a ribbon to our Tree of Reconciliation to represent each of these attempts.

Mar 15
Reconciliation in our World

Sometimes when we read the morning paper or watch the nightly news we can be overwhelmed with anger.  It can make us fell like overturning a few tables.  But, more often than not, we are also overwhelmed with a sense of powerlessness in the face of the needs of the world.  Disease, poverty, famine, violence and war.  What can we possibly do from so far away?  With so few resources?  With so little understanding?  We can pray. That is true. And pray we should for those who are living in a peace-less world. But God will not do for us what we refuse to do for ourselves. Our prayers must ground us so that we are strengthened to live lives that bring justice and peace to our own communities, to our own countries and to the global family. Peace in our world cannot be sustained without justice. So this week let us engage in acts of justice - feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, making an ethical purchase, standing in solidarity with a victim and add a ribbon to our Tree of Reconciliation to represent each of our attempts.

Feb 25
Reconciliation in our Church

The Church of God is a sacrament of Christ's presence in the world. It is a community of saints and prophets and humble servants of God who witness Christ’s love to humanity. It is also a church of pilgrims - full of sinners. It is a great scandal that we who are “God’s holy people” often fall so very short of what we hope and long to be. Instead of showing God's inclusive, welcoming heart to the world, we make the borders of our community small. We show the world pettiness, exclusivity, and judgement.  We feel anger and resentment towards our brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes we cannot make peace with one another even with our best efforts. Thus, we need reconciliation even within our Christian community. This week let us make attempts at reconciliation within our parish and larger Church community and add a ribbon to our Tree of Reconciliation to represent each of these attempts.

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About this blog
No, this isn't actually my picture. I just haven't gotten around to updating this section. It's good to know that someone is reading every last word though. Thanks!