Ministry Team Messages
January 3rd, 2019
Even though, by our “Christian Calendar”, the new year started with Advent 1 at the beginning of December, most of our lives are still ruled by the secular calendar which turned over two short days ago. So, as is people’s wont at this time of year, I am doing some reflecting on the year that has gone by, and some looking ahead to the year that is to come. As I do this reflecting, I find that it is not so much the momentous, “big picture” things that influence the life of our faith community, as it is the quiet, “behind-the-scenes” gestures of kindness and caring that really matter.
Some things that have brought joy to my heart, and hope for the future are:
-the Third Place coffee conversations and community that is developing on Tuesday mornings
-new friendships growing across “heritage congregation” lines
-some congregation members joining together with wider community members to see how we can participate in “drawing down” our carbon emissions and in greening our earth
-warmth and extra-special effort to welcome newcomers shown by our greeters (of the official and non-official varieties)
-individuals reporting how beautiful, meaningful and helpful was a healing touch treatment offered and received
-many of our Youth moving through stages of faith and understanding, and through different ways of being involved in the life of our community
-people spontaneously “pitching in” – not because they have been assigned by some committee but because they care about this community and our efforts to show God’s love in the world.
I believe that the coming year will call us again to think about our vision for the future and, of course, what that means for how we continue to steward and develop our properties. What I really hope is that how we deal with our bricks and mortar might always be at the service of developing our life in Christ with one another and sharing God’s love with a hurting world.
Blessings for the coming year,
Maggie, for the Ministry Team
December 28th, 2019
Christmas Greetings Continue
Merry (Happy) Fourth day of Christmas!
Nothing cheers the heart of a preacher more than to hear that people are having continuing conversations about something said in a sermon! (I never mind if people take issue with something I have said, as long as the subject matter gets people thinking and talking.)
Such was the almost off-hand comment about whether and why we say Merry Christmas or Happy Christmas… it led to several folks connecting with neighbours and friends about their preferred greetings at this time of year and what we are really hoping and wishing for folks when we exchange such greetings.
It also put me in mind of yet another mentor-minister of mine who used to insist on wishing people “Merry Incarnation”. He said that for him the oh-so-important message of Christmas was all about God being with us in the form of a baby boy, leading to God sharing every bit of what it means to be human. He also said he loved to greet people in such a way because it often made people stop, and question, and engage in meaningful exchanges beyond a momentary greeting.
I hope and pray your Christmas day and this continuing season of Christmas will include meetings and greetings with others that lead to meaningful exchanges.
Thank you to all who made our Christmas Eve services so meaningful with such a beautiful, holy spirit of joy in our midst as we gathered in the light of Christ.
December 20th, 2019
As we come to the end of Advent, we continue to receive pictures from members of the congregation who have given accommodation (Las Posadas) to the figures of Mary, Joseph and their donkey. They have been treated to meals, coffee, stories, playtime and excellent company as they have made their way through the congregation. The tradition of finding lodging for the parents of Jesus is about 400 years old in Mexico, and about 4 weeks old in our church. So it came with some snags, confusion, occasional frustration, and people wondering what on earth we are supposed to be doing. Isn’t that true of anything new in life?
The Advent season is about spiritual preparation as we wait and watch for the signs that God is doing something new on earth…that God is doing something new in us.
In the 5th chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he reminds the new church that when we are joined to Christ, we become new people. We become people who spread the message of forgiveness, and peace. Not just by talking about it, but by living it. Here is a little practice that you might like to try as you think about God doing something new in you…new in the world.
Sunday morning, December 22 begins the time when days get longer and light starts coming back into the world. Before you come to church on Sunday morning, get up in the dark. Make yourself your coffee or tea or whatever way you start the morning. Sit yourself by a window in the dark, and wait for the light to come. It should be there around 8:06 a.m. Don’t read, don’t check your messages, don’t listen to music. Just wait for the light to come and think about what it might mean for you to be a new person with a message of peace and forgiveness.
If you like, here are a few words from a Buddhist practice called the “Loving Kindness” meditation. It asks that you start the blessing with yourself and then offer it to others: spread it out each time you say it, travelling to family, friends, acquaintances, and eventually those you have a lot of trouble liking. (May you live with ease etc.)
May I live with ease, may I be happy, may I be free from pain
May I be safe, may I be healthy, may I live with happiness
May my life be filled with happiness, health and well-being.
(then repeat it for others as you bring them to mind)
May the blessings of Advent make us new in Christ…forgiving, peaceful and filled with the spirit of a loving God as we come into the light of Christ.
(for the Ministry Team)
December 13th, 2019
This Sunday morning is one of the most exciting of the church year. We have begun our journey through Advent 2019. And, for one Sunday (slightly early in the season) we venture to the manger as the children offer their leadership in worship. This year’s pageant will offer yet another fresh, new look at the ancient story of the birth of hope into a world desperately in need of some good news. “Sharing the News,” is a pageant written by United Church minister, Rev. Andy O’Neil. Please come and support the children and youth as they contribute their gifts within our worshiping community.
Advent is the beginning of a new church year. As I reflect on the year that has just passed I am particularly grateful for the many, many volunteers who give their time, energy, love, patience and creativity to the ministry with children and youth at Pacific Spirit United Church. Each annual event, summer camp, weekly activity, Sunday or Wednesday worship experience and special occasion has in some way been marked by the generous offerings of volunteers. Some of our volunteers offer excellent upfront leadership as storytellers, doorkeepers, pageant directors, trainers, small group leaders and community engagement leaders. This past year, we had 3 adult volunteers attend the Imagine Children’s Retreat at Camp Stillwood as cabin leaders, chaplain and small group leaders. The other group of volunteers that are essential to the ongoing success and depth of our church’s ministry with children, youth and families is the group that works behind the scenes (sometimes for hours on end) to support events and weekly programs. These are the folks that will show up on a Wednesday evening to bake 230 gingerbread people for a regional interfaith youth event; bake; prepare meals and snacks for 2 weeks of summer camp; cook, set-up, manage service and clean up for a youth group spaghetti dinner, Halloween event or Advent Luncheon. Finally, the Children, Youth and Family Ministry Committee (many of whom fill the roles mentioned above) continues to evolve and serve in ways that reflect a deep commitment to the ministry it serves.
As we continue our journey through Advent to the mystery of Christmas may your days be marked with moments of blessing; glimpses of the hope that is promised; and a sense of the ways that God is calling you to live into this new year.
Peace and blessings,
Cathy Cryder, for the Ministry Team
December 7th, 2019
There is a new/old Advent tradition that has been introduced to our congregation this year. Las Posadas has been held throughout Mexico for the past 400 years! It is new to Pacific Spirit United congregation this year.
The tradition commemorates Mary and Joseph’s difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a warm place to stay the night. (Posadas is Spanish for “lodgings” or “accommodations.”). In the original incarnation of the practice, a group representing the Holy Family stood outside a series of houses, asking for lodging. A special song was sung back and forth between those outside and those inside. It began with the line: “In the name of Heaven I beg you for lodging, for she cannot walk, my beloved wife. Don’t be inhuman; have mercy on us.” The song ended with the line: “Enter, holy pilgrims, receive this corner, for though this dwelling is poor, I offer it with all my heart.” Finally, the travelers were permitted to enter. Prayer and song then continued in the home and festive foods were shared.
More recently, the tradition has involved passing figurines representing the Holy Family from house to house – and this is how we are engaging in the practice at Pacific Spirit United Church. One of the great joys of this practice is an opportunity to visit with other congregation members – in homes or coffee shops or wherever the designated “handing over spot” is named to be! Watch for some images showing these exchanges in our Sunday services.
One of the more serious aspects of this practice is to think about those who are in need of shelter and accommodation in our day and time. When we “house” the Mary and Joseph figures, we might use the time to meditate on the ways that we are called to help “house” the homeless ones on our streets. We might think about the many refugees worldwide seeking asylum and sanctuary. We might also meditate on times in our lives when we were helped and housed and welcomed by others.
May our practice of this old tradition bring new connections, new thoughtfulness, and new gratitude for our ancient Christmas story.
Maggie, for the Ministry Team