Tag Archives: spiritual

Enough is Enough!

In the gospel lesson this week, John tells us the story of Jesus clearing the temple in Jerusalem. The cheating has been happening for years. Jesus has seen it before. On this day, Jesus said, “Stop turning my father’s house into a market!” In today’s words, he’s saying: “Enough is enough! This has to stop.

This month young people in the United States have risen up to yell, “Stop. Get rid of the guns in our society. They’re killing our friends.” They are chanting the phrase, “Enough is enough.”

For a long time, our First Nations people have been shouting, “Stop.  Prejudice, disrespect, and hate are killing our people. Suicide, murder have become an epidemic. Enough is enough.”

Within our Christian community, many denominations are looking death in the eye. Congregations are shrinking and ageing. The young seem to have deserted us. Society is chanting, “We’re spiritual not religious. We don’t need the church.”

We don’t know what happened the next day at the temple. Were the money changers, back in business still cheating the people? It seems that way in the U.S. Their government isn’t rushing to pass laws for gun control. Here in Canada, we are no different. We talk lots, and yet in terms of our First Nations people, more rot is revealed in our justice system every day.

My Christian denomination, the United Church of Canada, has been experiencing a clearing of the temple for the last thirty years. We are now facing the fact that our old ways are being wiped away. We are letting go of underused, expensive buildings. We are pruning and grafting new ways for our church government. We’re looking carefully at our mission statements. We’re seeking discernment in how God is calling us to be church in today’s society. It’s scary. We don’t know what lies ahead. This process requires trust in God’s ultimate goodness and love. Who will we be in five or ten years time, only God knows.

My hope, my faith, is that change will truly come. This won’t be a moment, a ground swell that fizzles and everything returns to the status quo. We will become Christians who are relevant, passionate, and faithful to the teachings of Jesus. We will truly love God, love each other and love ourselves in today’s world. We will walk with our First Nations people in a nation where all are truly equal, where healing can happen. God will work through us to bring permanent change. The task is begun. I am grateful.

Spiritual But Not Religious?


In our country today, there is a large group of people who declare that they are “spiritual but not religious”.

Over the last few years, I have endeavoured to understand  this category.  When I question those who are spiritual but not religious, they tell me that they do believe in a power, a source of all that is, that is bigger than anything we humans can muster.  They add that they are just not interested in attending church or following any religious traditions. They also tell me that they certainly believe in caring for others. I know that to be true because I have experienced them as generous, caring, loving responsible citizens.

As we continued to talk,  I have learned that the spiritually but not religious, feel they might need the church for weddings, and maybe funerals.  Often they enjoy yoga, or pickle ball, or musical presentations, or quilting or other activities that are held in the church, Occasionally, they end up volunteering in a church sponsored program like the local food bank, or children’s program. My conclusion has been that those who are spiritual and not religious usually see the church building, minister and congregation minister as useful.

This morning, I’m aware that this assumption that the church, supported and manned by other people, will continue to be there even unto the end of the age, may one day be false. As Christians we know that our precious church family, requires our time, our commitment, our gifts. We know God is the foundation of our church family, and yet God is not limited to churches. God already works all over the earth. As our population ages, church workers are becoming fewer and fewer. Without the help of the broader community, your local huch may disappear, as many have over the last few years.

Therefore, if the spiritual but not religious want the presence of “the church” in their community, now is the time to help, with their, time, talents and even their dollars.

Our God is a God of relationships. Jesus gathered a group of friends around him. He was not a solitary person. He knew the support, and joy that comes when a purpose is shared, when we weep together, and when we celebrate together. We, Spiritual and religious people know from experience that we don’t want to miss out on all the advantages of our religious community. So once again we offer an invitation, “Come, join our communities spread throughout this beautiful world. Come. We want you with us. We need you with us. We will share all that we have and all that we are as church communities. We are ready to receive you. Together we can offer love, caring, life cycle rituals, spirituality. Our faith is not meant to turn you away. Together we believe that God, the Creator, that great power of new life, is will us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken….”


Thought for Today

christmas-1023851_1920The Work of Christmas

Christmas – the actual day is past. Most of us have enjoyed our family gatherings and opened our gifts. My sister Anne told me today that all her decorations are put away as well. For her everything is back to normal. Not so at our house. We’ll have our tree up for at least two more weeks, maybe even three. It’s merry lights and statuesque beauty greet me every morning. I love it. I’m in no hurry to see it gone.

There is a song in our hymn book, titled “I Am the Light of the World” by Jim Strathdee. The first verse says,

“When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and the shepherds have found their way home,

the work of Christmas is begun…

For us as Christians, Christmas is so much more than a family celebration that lasts at the most a few days. Christmas is a beginning. Christmas, like the new baby born in the stable, is filled with potential. Each year we travel to the manger. Each year we have the opportunity to begin again our attempt to live the “way” of Jesus.

This year with our response to the refugee’s as individuals, groups, and a nation, the work of Christmas has begun. These families that have come and are coming will need our help, will offer new experiences, new stories, new learnings all year long. This year we won’t put Christmas back in a box and get back to our familiar normal. For that normal is changing every day.

This year we will need to open our hearts to God’s strength and leading for “the work of Christmas has truly begun.”

God’s Life Insurance – a Gift #life insurance #spiritual #travel #rivercruise

God's life insurance1

When Tom and I planned our “riverboat cruise,” the travel agent assured us we needed trip cancellation insurance. “Just in case,” she said. “When you book something a year ahead you never know what will happen.”

My mind slipped back two years. I was walking across my kitchen floor when my heel came down on a few drops of water. I fell and broke my back. In less than one second, my life changed drastically. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if insurance money could actually fix any problems that might crop up between now and August 2016? But of course there is nothing that can compensate us for the illness, accident or death that would cause us to cancel this trip. Still, we set up the insurance to protect our financial investment.

As Christians, we have something better than insurance, and it’s free. We have faith in a God who has promised to love us no matter what we do, when we succeed and when we fail. God forgives our mistakes and give us the gift of new life. We have faith that no matter what happens, we are not alone. God is with us every step of the way. God gives us strength and wisdom to carry on, if we choose to receive it.

Our insurance company sent us a package with a glossy brochure that carried all the details of our policy. God has given us the Bible. It too carries details of God’s promises for us with no limits to liability or escape clauses. Just as we seldom study the insurance brochure, we often neglect to read our Bibles.

And that’s the problem. Our faith is a free gift. As is often the case with something that is free, we can choose to leave the gift all wrapped up, sitting within us waiting for us to open it. Faith is a choice. For some of us a hard choice, because we don’t do well with mystery. When we take the risk, when we step out with the assurance of God’ loving presence and strength, we are amazed at the results.

God's life insurance - open the gift - accept the love.
God’s life insurance – open the gift – accept the love.

“and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Exodus 14:22)

Guardian Angels Doing Their Jobs.

September 4,  Day 6

Tom's Breakfast
Tom’s Breakfast

I have to begin tonight with breakfast this morning. It was absolutely fabulous for a hotel included breakfast. We ate in the dining room decorated to match the hotel’s era with comfortable Edwardian chairs and lovely matching cream and wine table cloths. A cheerful friendly waitress, Ryell,  greeted us. We chose to sit at a table that caught the morning sunshine and faced the sparkling blue harbor. Ryell brought us water and coffee, while we filled our plates at the buffet. Here is a picture is of Tom’s meal.

Both our souls and our tummys were nourished. When we checked out we reserved the room for our return journey.

Our first stop was Trinity United Church. Rev. Randy, as well as his secretary welcomed us. We learned about the innovative cluster ministry with fully streamed Sunday worship that has been developed by Cambrian Presbytery. The home of Presbytery office is right there at Trinity. We sold copies of Dipping Your Toes as well as Spectacular Stella and A Child Speaks. I promised to make sure that Pat Gilmore from National sends more for the book display at their Presbytery meeting in September.

We left Thunder Bay feeling good, good about a beautiful city and its friendly people.  The drive to Kenora was only 5 hours including stops, a short run. When we arrived in town, we had lost the paper with the name of the hotel that we booked last night. All we could find was the confirmation number. We stopped at a Comfort Inn and offered the reservation number. No it wasn’t one of theirs. We asked for the telephone exchange and then searched back through the recents on the cell phone. We found the number and discovered we were booked into the Days Inn hotel. Sometimes cell phones are extremely helpful. A landline wouldn’t have kept that record for us.

Once again we have a lovely hotel with a gorgeous swimming pool and a water slide. I lamented that I could no longer climb all those stairs and my ears couldn’t take the underwater pressure. So I looked at the slide and imagined myself flying down. This was not a problem for Tom. We swam, exercised and enjoyed the hot tub. Once dry and dressed again we drove further into town and parked on the main street, intending to check out the restaurants for supper. We were checking the parking meter to see if we still had to pay, when a passerby called over, “Don’t put any money in that. It’s after hours.” We thanked her and then ask for a recommendation to a restaurant. She pointed us to a Greek restaurant that was not too expensive. In Kenora food in general is expensive. Since we drank water and skipped dessert, $42 plus tip paid for dinner. Tea and coffee of course are available at the hotel. The food was delicious. Our waiter helpful, friendly and willing to chat.

Where was God today. Choosing Trinity United Church was one of those God-incidences that some people call co-incidence. In fact, it feels as if a guardian angel travelled with us today, reminding us how to use a cell phone to solve a problem, sending that friendly woman to direct us to a restaurant. And of course every day we pray for safety on the highway. This is a long trip. We definitely need God’s help.

September 2, Day 4

God leads. We’re asked only to follow.

Quality Inn & Suites, Sault Ste Marie ON
Quality Inn & Suites, Sault Ste Marie ON

This morning we were on the road again and we’ve had another good day. Tonight we are settled into our room at Quality Inn and Suites in Sault Ste Marie. This is a lovely hotel and reasonably priced. The pool is beautiful as you can see in the picture. We enjoyed the hot tub too.

Because this was a travelling day we made it a book day as well. We stopped at United Church’s here and there. Once again we started out a little late and so missed many of the morning office hours.

We had two very special stops today. The United Church at Blind River had afternoon office hours but we arrived shortly before noon. We drove by the church just in case Pastor Paul happened to be in his office early. The lights in the church hall were on and there was a van parked outside. Surprised and pleased we parked our loaded down Prius behind it. Once inside we were enveloped with friendly greetings from a group of special adults who were part of a day program run by Christian Horizons. Steph was in the kitchen cooking lunch.

“We’re having corn on the cob,” he said. “There’s a couple left. Would you like some?”

Who would turn down corn on the cob in northern Ontario? “Thank you, yes please,” we said.

Everyone at the table laughed and made room for us. Turned out Pastor Paul wasn’t there. This group led by Serge from Christian Horizons gather every other week at St. Andrews United Church in Blind River for lunch and more. We met everyone. When I gave Serge my card he told the group I was a writer and motivational speaker. Tyrell, who is training to be a motivational speaker, volunteered to speak to all of us. He spoke clearly and well about how important it is to be yourself. Natasha also had lots to say and Sarah too.

“Send me an email,” Serge said. “Maybe we can arrange to have you come and speak to us.” When I shared a gift of my CD A Child Speaks, he said “We’ll take your CD back to our residence so everyone can hear it. Thanks so much.”

What a wonderful enthusiastic group, a fabulous treat for Tom and me. The corn was scrumptious too. Best of all was the generous hospitality. God was surely in this place.

The second stop that was particularly special was at Willow Grove United Church. Once again we received a warm welcome. Their minister Rev. David took the time to listen as I told about my books. He  shared about his life and work, as well. He is an accomplished musician who plays a multitude of instruments, a most interesting man. In the end he bought 4 different books and talked about ordering more for his study group.

Tonight I am aware that God is truly leading us as we stop here and there on our western journey. It’s fun meeting all these wonderful people.