Angels Are Waiting!

Refugee Camp
Refugee Camp

I love to listen to CBC radio when I’m driving. One Sunday not long ago, Cross Country check-up asked Canadians their opinions on accepting refugees from Syria. An hour before, I had listened to a special news report on the ethical and moral problems faced by peaceful countries like Canada as they consider how to help the wave upon wave of refugees coming out of war torn countries like Syria. I was reminded of the boat people after the Viet Nam war. The 1200 refugees that Canada has promised to receive this time seems just a drop in this ocean of desperate people. Can we do better? Should we do better?

Callers expressed views on both sides of this issue. One phone call, from a former Viet Nam boat person touched my heart. She spoke of her gratitude to her adopted country. She talked of her willingness to work at any job when she arrived. She stated that her children had become highly educated valuable Canadian citizens. She said with pride, “Our country can take many more than 1200.”

Yes, we have fears, fears centering around employment. We believe there aren’t enough jobs for our own people. Yet, last year Canada employed 300,000 people on temporary work permits. There are jobs for refugees in Canada. We need to remember that most of our ancestors were immigrants and refugees. Without them, we would not have been born here

We are called to share our blessings. To sponsor a refugee is work. It requires fundraising to set up a family in this country and care for them until they have become acclimatized and learned the language. And that is only one part of the commitment. Refugee families need support such as friendship, teaching, loving for at least a year and often longer. But there are groups – like churches who are doing it.

Canadians who have been sponsors in the past know that bringing refugees to our country can be wonderful, difficult, fun, and frustrating and always a learning experience. WE KNOW WE CAN DO IT, IF WE CHOOSE.

Keep on loving one another as Christians. Remember to welcome strangers in your homes. There were some who did that and welcomed angels without knowing it. (Hebrew’s 13:1-2)

Wonderful Words of Life

Wonderful Words of Life
Wonderful Words of Life

Check out your vocabulary. What are the words you use most often and which ones carry special meaning? Here are a few of my favourites that I call words of life.

  • Hallelujah! This classic church word means praise God, fabulous, isn’t that wonderful. It rolls off my tongue when something particularly great happens. It means “praise God” or “thank you God” for this unbelievable blessing. It’s so much bigger than Hurray! Or Yea! When I shout Hallelujah! I feel my heart soar with joy of God’s Holy Spirit.
  • Love! Now that’s a word that we often waste on silly things like “french fries” or “walking”. Love is a word that speaks of the sacredness of human relationships. When the words, “I Love you,” are spoken from deep within our hearts, we are telling someone, “You’re precious, God’s gift, a true blessing for me.” We know it’s important to tell our children, our spouse, our friend that we love them. Words of love can be the bread of life.
  • At the end of my yoga class each week we close with the word “Namaste”. When we say, “Namaste” we are saying, “The Divine (God) in me greets the Divine (God) in you.” For me, “Namaste” speaks of the preciousness of each and every human being on earth. It brings to my attention that there is at least a bit of God in each and every one of us. When we use the word “Namaste,” we offer new life to others.
  • For today, my last special word is actually often written in English as two – “Thank you.” Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can change your life. Too often today we live with a sense of entitlement. The media hammers us with – have a vacation, you deserve it. Buy a new car, you deserve it. When we learn to notice and give thanks for the many blessings that abound in our lives every day, our feelings of satisfaction and joy multiply.

I’m grateful I have these four words in my vocabulary. When I think about them and use them, they bring sunshine to my days. Take a few moments and list your four wonderful words of life.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

(Proverbs 16:24)

 

How Do I Access the Bible’s Wisdom?

Written On Your Heart
Written On Your Heart

In June, I led a workshop about Storytelling and Dynamic Worship for Small Rural Churches. Storytelling is fun and it requires detailed preparation. I needed to know my stories off by heart, which means a great deal of practice. As children, we were assigned memory work at school (High Flight) and at church (23rd Psalm). I remember this “memory work” being pure drudgery.

Today, we think we don’t need to memorize anything, because all we have to do is “google” it and we have it on our phone, i-pad or computer. I believe having access to something is good, but having it written on your heart, deep within your being is a totally different kind of knowing, one that affects every day decisions. When we learn words of wisdom or comfort or faith by heart, we take those words into our being. They become a part of us so that we can call them to mind when the going gets tough..

My suggestion for you is to choose a quote, a Bible verse, a poem, something that touches your heart. Think about those words. Talk about them with your friends. Write them out and put them on your fridge and your bathroom mirror. Read them. Speak them aloud, over and over again.

Once you have learned them completely, they will be available for wisdom in times of temptation, or difficult decisions, for strength when life feels over whelming, for peace in times of emotional and physical pain. Once learned by heart, you can choose a new set and repeat the process. These words will be your anchors in the seas of life. Then, when the batteries die or the lights go out, the wisdom and comfort of these words will be with you, because they are written on your heart.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

Being Canadian – a Privilege or a Responsibility?

canadian-flag

Every year on Canada Day, we gather family and friends to celebrate the birthday of our oldest grandchild, Vanessa. We laugh and talk, swim in their pool, eat too much, and enjoy the fireworks in the evening. It’s a peaceful time. We know we’re blessed with a wonderful family and in my mind, with being citizens of the best country in the world.

Always the horror, violence, war that comes through the news media seeps into my mind and reminds me that the peace of our Canadian nation is fragile. On June 19, our neighbours to the south were once again struck with the brutality that comes with festering hatred. A young man, just 21, is accused of sitting for an hour in that historic church in Charleston while the people prayed, then opening fire on the innocent people around him,. The story brings tears to my heart. Peace is built on love and acceptance, not hatred and violence.

We would like to think that such horror could not happen in our precious Canada, yet we know that racial prejudice lurks beneath the surface of our calm Canadian veneer. Stories of racial profiling by police, the disappearance of First Nations women, fear of Muslims and more fill our newspapers. More and more people seem to have access to guns, even here in Canada.

Canada Day is a time to make a renewed commitment to the love and acceptance of all people. To follow the “Way of Christ” is to love God and love one another. It is our calling to live and to teach that all people, regardless of race, gender, whatever differences, all people are God’s beloved children. If we fail to live and teach this basic value, the peace and joy of our great land will disintegrate. Living in love and peace is a privilege that entails responsibility.

A friend sent me the following link to an article written by Rev. Christy Thomas of Denton, Texas, in response to the African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting. The article discusses five factors that create hate. It’s worth taking the time to read it.

http://um-insight.net/perspectives/christy-thomas/five-factors-that-create/

 

“For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”

(I John 3:11)