Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
What a different world from the one into which I was ordained! I literally could not have imagined the possibilities available today back in the olden times when I started in ministry --1980. As it happens I used a two minute video in worship as well, set up for me by one of our teens for use in the sermon.
Are these absolutely necessary? Of course not, but using images and videos can be helpful, especially with our young people who take all this for granted. Why would the technology used at church be any different than home? The teachers tell me that the recommendations in the curriculum are good and well received.
I figure that if this stuff opens them to a conversation about God then we should be using it. What are your thoughts? Several Sunday School teachers are readers. What are you finding?
Bye the bye, this is blog number 1500!
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
A fabulous weekend with fabulous kids, truly. I know pride is a no-no but at times this gaggle of goofy, United Church kids with all their energy, antics and courage (to head off on a retreat with friends and strangers to talk about their faith) makes my heart sing. The weekend was called Real Faith, Real Lives and the kids got to choose a stream for their workshops from Pop Goes Your Faith (pop culture based, including an infamous episode of Glee)to Where is God When Life Sucks? to Our Whole Life (sexuality and faith, for older teens only)all key issues for our youth in living their faith.
Saturday evening proved to be a huge hit. We began with a simulation game based on basti (slum) living in India, where the youth were put into random families, and circumstances and they had to survive. It was both fun and meaningful, and a bit crazy at times, when they got desperate.The evening closed with an hour of silence.Who knew it possible?
A dozen plus spiritual practice stations were set up in the sanctuary, lit by candle light, and we moved in silence through different areas with guided spiritual meditations of all kinds including movement,touch,taste, journal writing,scripture reflection,art,etc. Some youth were moved to tears and comforted by their peers,others reflected on the silence and sense of peace and safety they felt and most evaluations remarked that spiritual practices should be a part of every retreat. Life skills introduced,I believe.
There was lots of beautiful music and the youth led worship for St Matthew's congregation on Sunday AM, including one of St Paul's, senior youth Chris, who shared a God-some moment in his life with eloquence and faith-filled wisdom. We ate lots (thank you food committee of St Matthew's Belleville), slept a little and were a little sad to see it end.Thank you St Paul's for supporting our youth to this life-changing adventure. You'll be hearing from us.
We have several dedicated volunteers with our youth but Cathy's ministry in our midst put the paddles on a fading aspect of our congregation and jolted us back to life. After Cathy's departure one of those volunteers, Laura, has stepped into a paid role and has provided excellent leadership. Is this worth it financially? Well, Bay of Quinte Conference stretches from Pickering to Brockville, and north from Pembroke to Perth. While this is a huge geographical area, a third of the participants at the event were from St. Paul's. Another third were from Pickering Village UC which also has a paid youth worker.
United Church congregations have tended to pay lip service to youth but are reluctant to shell out the bucks. And it shows. Cathy and now Laura have nurtured these young people in their Christian faith, not just entertaining them. This approach hasn't scared the kids away. If anything it gives them a sense of meaning. Two of our older teens have been selected to be part of a mission/exposure trip to El Salvador next March. Congratulations to Jonathan and Madeleine.
It will be good to hear how the Belleville event unfolded.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
We fully appreciate the frustration of some of the neighbours to the disruption. Their anger at the Church, however, is misplaced. We have no power to evict the protesters. We cannot speak for the City, but even if we did have that power, we would be very reluctant to invoke it. We believe that we are blessed to live in a society where peaceful conversation can take place publicly and here citizens are free to voice their concerns without fear of violence or reprisals.
It seemed inevitable that municipalities across North America would eventually lose their patience and send the police to break up the encampments. We could say that they couldn't last forever and that these predominantly young people are brash and naiive and quixotic in their ideals.
I hope we remember that yesterday we honoured young people who were brash and idealistic and probably naiive as well because they were willing to head off to conflicts in distant places on our behalf. That's the way young people are, and we should thank God for this because we often become complacent and make concessions claiming that we are realistic about the world.
When we gather for our annual meeting of Bay of Quinte Conference it is the young people who infuse a ridiculous amount of energy into the proceedings. There are times when we oldsters are thinking "you don't understand" as they go to the microphones but its good that they don't accept the status quo.
Some of you might think that the Occupy Movement should not be mentioned in the same breath as those who fought for freedom during our international conflicts but I do think there are parallels in passion. They want to create a better world and address the injustices around us.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
It got me thinking. Of course there were two dozen choir members, a group of committed volunteers we could easily take for granted. A senior and a child brought the wreath forward as part of our Remembrance portion of the service. We had a scripture reader and three young people led the Prayers of the People. Our Loaves and Fishes group added another five participants, other than the two choir members, three of them youth.
But as the commercials say "wait, there's more!" One guy each on the sound board, projection, and video recording. Ushers and greeters. A committee served us coffee and juice after worship. Sunday School teachers. And the junior choir practiced at 9:30 even though they didn't sing in the service. My guesstimate is between fifty five and sixty volunteers, which was about a quarter of those in worship on Sunday. The member who jump-started my brain is right -- this is impressive.
Given that the average attendance in a United Church congregation is about sixty, this was an important gift of time. And this is just on Sunday morning.
Congregations wouldn't be congregations without the active involvement of members. Call them volunteers or disciples, their activity should humble every paid staff member.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Monday, November 07, 2011
Sunday, November 06, 2011
Saturday, November 05, 2011
The decorations were rather jarring for me because there were skeletons and other lurid death images. Despite seeming macabre to my WASP eyes the Day of the Dead is actually an opportunity for people to celebrate loved ones who have died and families often go to cemeteries to have a picnic at the graves.
Our culture is sometimes described as death denying with an emphasis on youth and downplaying the aging process and death itself. We are reluctant to talk about the reality of death and we certainly don't have picnics in our cemeteries?
What is your reaction to Day of the Dead? Are we death denying? November isn't great picnicking weather in Canada, but what could we do to have a healthier view of death?
Friday, November 04, 2011
The religious leaders made a common pledge:"We commit ourselves to educating people to mutually respect and honor each other in order to help bring about peaceful and fraternal co-existence between people of different ethnic groups, cultures and religions."
I find this story encouraging in the midst of other disquieting stories of religious strife and extremism, other than the obvious absence of women. Why do we seldom hear the encouraging accounts of cooperation and seeking common ground amongst religions?