Tag Archives: faith

Faith and Fear Walk Hand in Hand

Courage
Courage

I’m not sure what is happening. I know only that I have been reading Psalms, traditional and modern, something new. And now poetry is flowing from my pen onto paper, my fingertips onto the keyboard. I’ve been listening to the confusion, the fear, that is filling our hearts as we hear words of intolerance and isolationism shouted at us through the media. Today, as we approach the first Sunday of Advent, I have two poems for you.

Prayer
Prayer

Lament

Hate is spreading.
Intolerance growing.
The icy fingers of fear
are creeping in
through the cracks of our being.
What can I do?

I teach your love.
I write. I speak.
Some listen.
Your love touches a few.
Hatred has gone viral.
Money and knowledge lead the way
Manipulate the media.

One at a time
That was Jesus’ “way”.
A finger in the dyke.
Can that hold back the flood?
Of evil unleashed.
Destruction, murder, genocide
It’s happened before.
It continues to happen.

God says,
“Only love can defeat evil.”
I know from experience,
God’s love can overcome.
God’s love is stronger than death.
God’s love does bring new life.

Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer,
Help us! Please!

Trust
Trust

Advent/Christmas?

A baby is born?
Bringing Wisdom, Compassion
Is there time?

Intolerance grows.
Fear festers.
Evil’s response to love.
A last gasp.
A last grasp for total power.
How big? How long?

I will trust in God,
who walked on water,
healed the sick,
brought sight to the blind.
I will trust in God,
who died in love,
defeated death
brought new life.
I will trust in God.

I will continue to love,
to love this world into new life.
I will trust in God.

This is my faith.

Plant a Tree? Why?

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Buy a field – Plant a Tree

In both our front and back yards, we have trees – maples and cedars. They were planted by the first owners of our house ten years ago when the house was built. Already they are tall enough to provide a little shade for our lawn. Trees amaze me. They offer so many gifts beyond their cooling shade. They not only give back to the earth; they breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out life giving oxygen. As a child, I learned that trees were my friends, especially one with a big low-lying branch that served as a doorway to my leafy playhouse, up high above my world. Today I am grateful for our trees, even though none are big enough yet for climbing.

Planting trees is a sign of hope for the future. In today’s world, their slow growth means that the planter may not be around to enjoy the tree’s blessings. I think of education as a planting trees. High school youth can become impatient with school. What use is this? When will it be over? Do I really want to do this homework? Especially today when the world is so chaotic, job insecurity is an epidemic. Post- secondary education is a monumental expense, yet education is also a sign of hope for the future. 

Living a life of faith is a sign of hope for the future of our world. It’s easy to say, “Why bother? God doesn’t care.” I believe that God does care. In the Bible we read about the prophet, Jeremiah. War was raging around him. His own king had imprisoned him for speaking out about his own people’s behavior. Jeremiah had warned his king that linking up with Egypt would not save the country from the Babylonians.  From prison, Jeremiah listens to God’s message, “Buy land in your hometown. There is a future for you and your people. The day will come when you will prosper again.” And so Jeremiah makes the purchase. (paraphrase of Jeremiah 32:8-15)

Living a life of faith today means that we, too, are called to speak out about climate change, justice issues, and God’s promises. We too are called to take action, to make room for people different from ourselves, to feed the hungry, to get our education, to plant trees for the future. We are called to be like Jeremiah, and invest our lives for our future and the future of the world. We are called to trust in God’s promise for a new world filled with love and justice and joy.  

Yes, like our trees, the world’s growth towards goodness for all is slow. Still we can see growth happening. Already, there are small patches of shade here and there around the world. Already there is food for some who were hungry, freedom for some for some who were imprisoned unjustly, peace for some who were at war.

We can step out in faith and add goodness to God’s world. Each loving act, each step for justice, each gift of loving mercy for ourselves and others makes a difference. We can be God’s blessed trees, a breath of new life in this world. We can live God’s plan for us. We can be God’s hope.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  (Jeremiah 29:11

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God’s Spectacular Rainbow

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A few weeks ago I took this picture standing on my front step at home. My camera did not capture the startling beauty of two complete double rainbows, each color glowing and vibrant. This awesome gift from God lasted more than fifteen minutes. The experience touched my heart. I am truly grateful. This morning, as I focused on Psalm 118, the following poem/psalm poured forth from my pen. I feel called to share it with you.

God’s Spectacular Rainbow

God’s rainbow arch
holds me in its cradle.
God is with me.
Nothing I do is wasted.

God uses me.
God uses all things, beings actions,
to bring goodness.
God holds the light
and the darkness.
God blends them together
INTO WISDOM.

God’s loving power
doesn’t depend on me
my faith, my understanding, my feelings.
This is my hope.
I will trust in God. 

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

  (Psalm 118: 24)

Why Bring Your Child to Church?

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“I know what I can do to help my classmate,” said five-year-old Indigo to her parents. They had read the school’s note about her classmate’s mother who was in a Toronto hospital, after being seriously hurt in a car accident. “I’ll ask my church family to help me. They like to help people and they don’t want people to be sad.” The following Sunday morning at Keene United Church, little Indigo took the microphone and confidently asked us to join her in raising money to help her classmate’s family with gas and parking for the endless trips to Toronto. That morning, Indigo collected $360 plus a mountain of prayer.

Of course, the Spirit of generosity in our church family is important, but I tell you this story for another reason. Today many parents invest money and time for their children’s participation in sports in order for them to learn teamwork, self-esteem, leadership skills and benefit from the physical exercise. Occasionally one of them is good enough to be drafted for the big leagues or earn a university scholarship.

Indigo’s mom brings her to church because she knows within her church family, Indigo will learn those same values and so much more. Already, Indigo knows when she hurts, her church family cares. Already at the age of five, Indigo knows she can depend on her church family to help her when she wants to help others. Already, Indigo has soaked in the knowledge that she is accepted as God’s precious child in her church home.

As the years go by, Indigo will more deeply understand the strength that comes from being welcomed and loved just as God created her. She will remember that she didn’t have to “make the team” at church. She’s been a part of the team from her very beginning. Through our teaching and example, Indigo will have gained confidence in God’s free gift of forgiveness, discovered the wisdom and comfort the Bible offers her and accepted the assurance that comes from knowing that she is never alone. God is with her always.

Why bring your child to church? The church family offers love, acceptance, assurance, strength, confidence – these are values all parents want for their children. We hope Indigo will cherish belonging to the Keene United Church family for a lifetime. The gift of faith in God is hers to enjoy for always. Already, she has learned a “way of life” that has empowered her to help others.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

 

What Can a Small Group Do For You?

This group a little younger than some of us, but we're just as lovely.
This group a little younger than some of us, but we’re just as lovely.

Every month, I gather with friends for our book club meeting. Although we saw each other often at church, we formed this group because we wanted a stronger, deeper relationship than a few minutes over coffee on Sunday mornings could give us. Besides, I was retiring and would be leaving the church family.

Our monthly meetings are cherished by each one of us. Yes, we dutifully choose a book each time. Most of us read it. Sometimes we discuss it for five minutes, sometimes half an hour. The book discussion isn’t really our reason for gathering.

We come together in friendship seeking love, laughter and support for our tears. Family problems, aging parents, celebrations are all on the menu each month. We have built a precious community, as we share food and life.

In today’s world we have to be intentional about developing community. The extended family that once gathered round is usually separated by distance. City living can bring anonymity. Even country dwellers tend to be isolated from their neighbours.

We have Facebook friends, but for me a few words printed on my computer or phone screen is not enough. I need to voice my concerns and joys. I need to see my feelings mirrored in another’s eyes as I speak. I need to feel the human touch of comfort and joy as we give each other hugs. Our precious book club brings God’s new life for me.

I suggest you try setting up your own group. We started small – just three. Now, six years later, we’re seven, a perfect size. You don’t have to be all the same. In our group, some are mothers, some grandmothers, some single, some married, some working, some retired. Faith, and love of reading, good food and laughter are our common ground. Build an intentional community for yourself. As you trust and share, your life will be touched by God’s love.

Jesus said, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

 

 

A Thought For Today

Today is God’s precious gift. Savor it.

Open the gift of today. Receive its Joy.
Open the gift of today. Receive its Joy.

Our awareness of the sadness, the busyness,  the struggles that this day might bring can so fill our minds that we wish this new day was already over, or didn’t have to begin. Worries about what is happening or could happen in our own life or in the world as a whole can make this day as grey as the sky is here in Peterborough this morning.

Today, my faith calls me back to the beauty of life. This grey day can mean the possibility of rain – the water of new life. I am alive and therefore I can make a difference in the world today. My tears of and my laughter will bring love and compassion to someone somewhere in the world today.

Whether we walk, trudge, run or fly through the next 24 hours, our lives have purpose whether or not we can see that purpose. This is my hope. This is my faith.

I believe today is God’s precious gift given to me and to you.           Let’s savor it. 

God-Incidents ‪#travel #faith #prayer

October 1 Day 33

First, it’s good to be with Tom’s son Will and his partner Claudia. We’ve had lots of great conversation today. God was certainly active in our lives today. Here is the story of our trip to the grocery store.

We chose Safeway because it was on the way home from a visit to a United Church. After collecting our groceries so we could cook supper, we lined up at the check-out. Often when I’m busy with something, Tom will strike up a conversation. Today was no exception. While I set the groceries on the conveyor, he explained that are visitors to Calgary. At that point, Tom told the cashier that I was a minister and a writer promoting my books. He handed her my card.

She looked at me and said, “A minister…Oh my God, you’re just the person I need today. God must have sent you here.” We talked a bit as she checked through our groceries. Her supervisor came along and told her to go on break when she finished with us. She looked at me and said, “Now I’ll have time to talk with you.” And we did talk and pray together. She went back to work with a smile.

Some people would say this was a co-incidence. For me this encounter was a God-incident – a blessing for both of us.

Yes We Can!!! #refugees

Refugees are waiting.
Refugees are waiting.

Our news media are alive with the global refugee crisis. Words, pictures, video clips flash before us whether or not we want to see them. This flood of desperate people, caught between violent, oppressive government and ISIS, have little choice. If they stay, they will be raped physically and emotionally every day, if not murdered in the streets. They are risking their lives in desperately overcrowded boats, trucks, whatever as they cling to the glimmer of hope that a normal life, a new life can be gained in a new country.

A few weeks ago, we were waiting for the European countries to forget their economic woes and do something for these desperate people. At present, there is no unified plan to help. As wave upon wave of refugees pour into neighbouring countries, we have gradually realized that Canada might have a role to play. We have waited for our government to open the floodgates and help these people. Today, we can wait no longer. Yes, it’s Europe’s job; yes it’s Canada’s job; and YES, IT’S OUR JOB. It’s time for us as individuals to pick up the responsibility and do what we can.

We cannot sit in our peaceful, abundant world and do nothing as the bodies of children, whole families are washed up on the shores of far-off countries. The time for standing by and waiting for someone else to do something is over. A few groups of Canadians are stepping out here and there across our country. Becoming a sponsoring group is not easy. Our government is not smoothing the way, but still some of us are responding. We need more, many, many more.

Today, I challenge myself and you. Let’s look at our community. Is there a sponsoring group set up already? Check out what is needed by them. Find the place where you can help. If there is none, than open your heart to God and gather a few friends to push for action from your group, your local hockey association, church group or your entire small community. Someone needs to take leadership. Maybe that person is you.

As Canadians, what we have done in the past for refugees need not determine our response today. People are desperate and dying today. This is our opportunity to live our faith.

Jesus was once a refugee. “an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (Matt. 2:13)

 

How Do I Issue the Invitation of Faith?

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As Christians, we know that God is with us, giving us strength, guidance, and challenge. Many times, I’ve heard others say, “I never would have gotten through Susie’s death without God, and without the support of my church family.” Consequently, we want others to have faith, too.

How do we make people understand the strength and joy, the wisdom and comfort that come with faith? How do we compete in this crazy world where every minute is filled with activity and work?

Jesus didn’t compete. He issued invitations to James and John. They immediately left their nets and followed him. Were they the only ones he asked? What about the ones who said, “Not interested, too busy, can’t.” They wouldn’t be mentioned in the Bible. They missed the adventure.

Regardless of how many said no, some said yes. His following became large enough to be a problem for the religious leaders and the Romans. Why did some accept his invitation?

As I read the stories, I see that Jesus did more than issue invitations. He lived what he taught. He lived acceptance of everyone, even when he received criticism. He lived compassion and kindness, even when he was tired. Jesus passionately lived what he believed. People met him, watched him, listened to him, saw him in action, experienced his love, and they believed. They joined his group.

St. Paul wrote to tell us to live so that when people get to know us, they will have met Jesus. That’s our calling, our life’s work as Christians. In everything we say and everything we do, whether it’s standing in line at the grocery store, working at the office, or cooking dinner at home, we can choose to let Jesus’ compassion, acceptance, love shine through us. Only then will others want to make faith a priority in their busy lives.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 4:20)