May 30, 2006

Looking Ahead to June 4, 2006 -- Pentecost Sunday

This SUnday we will hear a report from Elvin, Christina and Josh regarding the Conference Annual Meeting May 25-28. We will also be celebrating the Sacrament of Communion.

Pentecost takes place 50 days after Easter. Often called the "birthday of the Church" it is a day when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. Theologically speaking it is one of the most important celebrations of the church year (second only to Easter, tied with Christmas/Epiphany). The Scriptures for Pentecost Sunday this year are:

The Hymns we are singing are:

  • 382 Breathe on Me Breath of God
  • 375 Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness
  • 198 Come O Spirit, Dwell Among Us (tune 374)
  • 481 Sent Forth by God's Blessing

The Meditation is going to be about Transformation and Life from Dead Bones.

Near the end of Lord of the Rings, after the battles have been fought and won, Gandalf takes the new king out to a desolate place. Aragorn asks for a sign of hope that his line will endure and Gandalf tells him to turn away from the city and look out into the desolation, where all seems dead. There Aragorn sees a seedling of the White Tree, a sign of the continuing line of Elendil. He finds his hope, not in the battle victory, or in his coronation, or in the celebrations of his people, but in the middle of a dead plain.

Similarly Ezekiel is looking for hope. His people have been enslaved and exiled. Their temple and city have been destroyed. And God gives him a vision of skeletons lyuing jumbled in a ditch. "Mortal, can these bones live?"

Pentecost is about the transforming power of God's Holy Spirit or ruach ( a Hebrew word which also means wind -- in Hebrew is the the ruach that moves over the waters at the beginning of Genesis). Often in our world we do one of two things. One is that we invite transformation as long as it doesn't actually mean we have to change. Another is that we look at the desolate places in our lives and lose hope. Pentecost reminds us to do neither.

Transformation needs us to be open to the Spirit';s work within us. Transformation means we need to be able to give the same answer Ezekiel gave "O Lord God, you know". Are we ready to be transformed? Are we ready to look in the desolate places for new signs of life? Are we ready to be changed? What wind is blowing our way this Pentecost?


May 29, 2006

SUnny Cove Camp

Every year Riverview joins with the other United Churches in the Rainy River District to run a week of camp at Sunnycove Camp in Fort Frances. This year we will be there July 24-28.

Our theme this year is The Rainbow Connection, and we will be looking at covenants.

Registration forms are now available!!!! Contact the church for more information.

May 28, 2006

Events in May

THis post will remain on top for all of May. For regular posts please scroll down.
  • Monday May 1 -- UCW Meeting at 7pm in Boyle Lounge
  • Friday/Saturday May 5/6 -- Funeral Leadership Seminar
  • Monday May 8 -- Church Spring cleaning at 6pm
  • Sunday May 14 -- Mother's Day Brunch following regular worship
  • May 25-28 -- Annual Meeting of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario Conference

During May Gord will be on Study leave during the time of the Conference Annual meeting (he isn't going to the meeting but will take some study/planning time at home).

May 22, 2006

Looking Ahead to May 28 -- 7th Sunday of Easter

Thanks to Noreen for providing worship leadership this morning while Gord is on study leave. This weekend is the Annual Meeting of the Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario and so the service this Sunday is one which was prepared for this weekend by the Conference Communication Strategy Committee.

The Scriptures are:

The hymns are:
  • #395 Come In, Come In and Sit Down
  • #579 The Church is Wherever God’s People
  • #378 As a Fire is Meant for Burning (tune 374)

The Sermon is a series of stories submitted by people throughout the conference in response to some questions about the United Church. It is the hope of the committee that encouraging such storytelling is a way to get people talking about and sharing who/what the United Church is. Between each of the stories we will sing together the chorus of Walk With Me.

May 08, 2006

Looking Ahead to May 14 -- 5th Sunday of Easter, Christian Family Sunday

A reminder that the men of the church will be serving brunch (pancakes, bacon, and sausages) following the service.

The Scriptures this week are:
  • From the Life of the Church: Acts 8:26-40
  • Psalm 22:25-31 (VU p. 746 Parts 3 & 4)
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: 1 John 4:7-21
  • From the Gospel: John 15:1-8

The Hymns are:
  • 395 Come In, Come In and Sit Down
  • 588 Many are the Lightbeams
  • 580 Faith of Our Fathers
  • 427 To Show By Touch and Word

The sermon title is Family, the Team We ALL Play On

This Sunday is called Mother's Day by many. Originally it was seen as a day to pray for peace, remembering all those mothers whose sons lay in battlefield graves. Now it has tended to become somewhat sentimentalized as a day to celebrate mothers without question.

But of course it isn't quite that simple. Celebrating mothers and motherhood can be difficult for those who want to be mothers but, for whatever reason, are unable to. It can be painful for those whose relationship with their own mother is uneasy at best. The temptation in the church is to forget about these issues. After all, isn't motherhood and family a great thing?

The church has started calling this day Christian Family Sunday as a way to broaden our outlook (in the US it is often referred to as the festival of the Christian Home). It is still a day to talk about family but we need to be realistic and ask "What is family?". We need also to ask if family, however we are defining it, is always a supportive place.

Family is one of the ways we talk about the church community. And, as in all families, we don't always get along. But family is a team that we all play on. Family,at its best, is a place where we learn to work through our differences. Sometimes families fail in this task. Sometimes family members are abusive to each other. Then the family is broken, in need of healing. What kind of family do we want to have? How will we make it happen?

Our Scriptures point us to part of the answer. The Epistle reading reminds us of the importance of love. The Gospel reminds us of the importance of judicious pruning. In a successful family we learn (often by trial and error) how to balance encouraging growth and experimentation with encouraging restraint. May God help us to be part of healthy families, both the ones we share a bloodline with and the one we share a faith with.

May 01, 2006

Looking Ahead to May 7 -- 4th Sunday of Easter

This Sunday is informally known as "Good Shepherd Sunday" The Scriptures are:

  • From the Life of the Early Church: Acts 4:5-12
  • Psalm 23 (VU p. 749)
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: 1 John 3:16-24
  • From the Gospel: John 10:11-18

In keeping with the sermon (see below) and the training event taking place at Riverview this weekend the hymns this week will all be hymns that people have requested for their funeral when the time comes. [As usual, all numbers refer to Voices United]

  • 820 Make a Joyful Noise
  • 703 In the Bulb There is a Flower
  • 182 Stay With Us
  • 238 O Lord My GOd (How Great Thou Art)

The sermon title is Big Leagues to Hall of Fame, Saying Goodbye.
First of all, I apologize for the sermon title. It really isn't very good but I was trying to choose a title that went with the Hockeyville celebrations around town.

We live in a society that has a hard time with death. We tend to avoid talking about it until absolutely necessary. There are a number of reasons for this and a number of reasons it is not always healthy (of course it isn't healthy to never talk about death either -- appropriate balance is the key). One of the results of this reluctance is that we rarely talk about how best to say good-bye. The only time we talk about funerals is at a funeral, or when the family meets with the minister and/or funeral director to plan a funeral for a loved one. And then the question asked is often some variation of "what (hymn, scripture, etc) do you think mom would have wanted?". How to answer?

It can be healthy to talk about what we want at the end of our life. This can include a discussions about funeral services (casket or cremation? donations in lieu of flowers? lots of singing?) as well as discussions about when to let go and when to keep medical interventions going (so-called "living wills") and discussions about organ donation. This sounds morbid, who wants to have these discussions, why would we talk about something so depressing. But it can be healthy. It can be a way, especially in the case of someone who is terminally ill or whose death is near, of preparing the way. The discussion can help start the grieving process, can give us a chance to say good-bye in person.

As a minister I often have people say "sing that hymn at my funeral". My common response is "Tell your family". Tell them what your wishes are, write them down, pass on the information. That avoids a lot of indecision and arguing.

When someone close to us dies we don't often want to be making a bunch of decisions. We want to grieve. If we have some of these discussions beforehand those decisions can be easier to make. It is also easier then to get what matches your loved one's personality rather than a cookie cutter, fill-in-the blank service (especially true if the person "doing" the memorial service does not know the deceased well). Take time to prepare for what will come eventually.

We all have a terminal condition -- it's called life. Eventually we all move on to what lies beyond death. It is only sensible to prepare for the leavetaking in some way.