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thank goodness


 Weekly Meditations

If you have questions or suggestions, please refer to our contact details below to reach us.

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Outquotes

 Below, you will find some of our favourite "learnings" from our weekly readings.

Our "Shadow sides"

From May 30

 It is said we all have our “shadow sides” of our personalities. Those things that we don’t want to show in the daylight to other people. Author John Mombourquette wrote a book called: “How to Befriend Your Shadow: Welcoming Your Unloved Side.” The premise of his book is that each of us has a 'shadow', composed of everything we have driven into our unconscious for fear of being rejected by the people we loved when we were young. He writes that over the years, we created a whole underground world filled with things that were shameful, displeasing or upsetting to those around us.

   And, of course, Mombourquette attempts to help people navigate their way out of shame and grief in order that they can become full people – just as God intended. His book is not spiritual, so allow me to put it into words that work for me: Our Lord God, our Jesus Christ, the very one whom Nicodemus came to see under the cover of darkness, does not want you to live in a state of shame until the end of your days. Jesus teased Nic by saying “Hey! You’re a leader of your people and yet you come to me with such questions!” But Jesus Christ did not publicly shame Nicodemus for coming to him in darkness – which can be translated as a lack of understanding. Instead, he was welcomed and he was taught. Jesus took the time to teach him about God’s truth. Christ welcomed Nicodemus – an outsider to the established troupe that travelled with Jesus – with Grace and with radical love.

God can handle all our questions

A selection from the meditation for April 18, Easter 3

   Thomas didn't pretend. He didn't fake his belief. He told the truth. Was he "doubting Thomas"? Well, perhaps. But even more importantly he was "honest Thomas."

   We shouldn’t judge ourselves or others for questioning. Doubt is a natural part of the faith journey of many Christians. We should take our questions and concerns in prayer to God. God can handle our doubt. I can assure you of that. God welcomes our questions … because it gives us the opportunity to be open to hearing the answers. And all answers point to the truth as Christ brought to us.

   I remember reading an article in Time magazine several years after the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta about some letters she had written to her confessor. They had just been released to the public and they surprised me! In them, she confessed the guilt and shame she had felt for most of her life because she questioned her faith in God.

   I don’t think in her lifetime any of us would have guessed the inner turmoil she was feeling over her doubt. She just continued to do the work she felt called to do. It was work that followed the call of Christ who tells us to walk and live among the poor. To welcome the outcast into our midst and to heal and comfort our fellow children of God. This was certainly the work Mother Teresa did!

   It’s obvious to me that God had faith in her! Even when and if she wasn’t sure about her faith in God. It’s always been a two-way street.

   Maybe that’s what we should be more concerned with … living our lives as though God’s trust and faith in us is well-founded and deserved.

Stephen King loves what he gets from God, 

but still has doubts

An illustration from the Easter 2 meditation about Doubting Thomas

  You all know who the author Stephen King is? Undeniably, he’s a creative, intelligent person…. I don’t know how many millions of books he’s sold.

He was interviewed one time and asked about God.

He said religion and faith have always interested him, and interests him more the older he gets. He says he wants to believe that there is something more “on the other side,” as he explains it.

This is a quote from King: “For me, life is so rich—so colourful, and full of good things: things to read, things to eat, things to watch, places to go, new experiences —that I don't want to think that you just go to darkness ….

I choose to believe [in God]. There's no downside to that. If you say, ‘Well, OK, I don't believe in God. There's no evidence of God,’ then you're missing the stars in the sky and you're missing the sunrises and sunsets and you're missing the fact that bees pollinate all these crops and keep us alive and the way that everything seems to work together. Everything is sort of built in a way that to me suggests intelligent design.”

And then, after saying all that, King went on to say that he chooses to believe in God, but he still has serious doubts.

In other words, he struggles in his faith. And that's okay. Because when you question, you grow as you find the answers.

The God of Good Friday: an excerpt from a meditation by Nadia Bolz-Weber

  I’m not sure which is worse about what I was taught: the fact that we had somehow made God out to be a divine child abuser or that we had made God out to be an angry loan shark demanding his pound of flesh.

Either way, I don’t think that’s really who God really is. But I do think that whole mess is what we get when we think the cross is about us and not about God.

No wonder people want to go from glory to glory and skip the cross.

Because when we think the cross is about us, the only view we can have of God, is of God standing in heaven with folded arms looking down at the cross judging us but punishing Jesus. But the thing is, God isn’t standing above the cross. God is hanging from the cross.

Maybe the problem starts when we think we can know who God is by just looking at who we are, and then projecting that up really big. We’re vengeful so God must be vengeful. We are power-hungry so God must be power hungry. We want to smite our enemies, so God must want to smite our enemies. That’s why it’s hard to imagine that God would willingly choose to be poured out for us on the cross because, well, we’d never do a thing like that.

Yet in the end, it’s like that quote from Einstein “the same thinking that created a problem cannot solve the problem.” We cannot be saved by a God who is just a bigger, bad-er version of the worst parts of us or a bigger better version of the best parts of us.

But we can see who God actually is, when we see how God chose to reveal God’s self in a humble cradle and on a human cross.

The Thunk

   From March 21


   A lot of people both outside and INSIDE the church don’t realize that Christians have all different kinds of thoughts and ways of explaining the Word. We are not all the same – I think in any church, we are a people who view our faith as a religion of love and acceptance and mercy and grace. We are people with spirits and brains and souls and hearts that are fully engaged in the ways of Jesus Christ. Christ has chosen us – and we, intelligent, thinking, compassionate people have chosen Christ.

And it sure isn’t easy in today’s world. We’re always running up against the Thunk … and there’s something else called The Gap. The Thunk and the Gap.

The Thunk has been created by the Gap.

There is a gap between Christianity and the world. The Gap has been growing because … well there’s a whole lot of reasons. Let me throw out a couple … as I’ve been saying here today, people misunderstand who we are – and as long as we do all our business and worship and good deeds inside walls and behind doors – they will never know who we are or what we do – except for what they see on TV every time a church acts up and misbehaves.

And a second reason there’s a growing Gap is because of something psychologists call “religious wounding.”

Too many good people have been hurt in the past by the doctrines of their churches or the people in their churches.

For example, when a faithful person struggles with poverty and gets a message in church that we only care about what they put on the offering plate, then a wound is inflicted. Conversely, when people hear that people of wealth are the root of all our problems, a wound is inflicted.

From March 14:


Jay Shetty (author of "Think Like a Monk", shares the answer of his spiritual teacher, Radhanath Swami, after he was asked how we can be a positive force in the world with all this negativity around us. Swami told him: “There is toxicity everywhere around us. In the environment, in the political atmosphere, but the origin is in people’s hearts. Unless we clean the ecology of our own heart and inspire others to do the same, we will be an instrument of polluting the environment. But if we create purity in our own heart, then we can contribute great purity to the world around us.”


 

From March 7, 2021


   Following is a page from Harold Ivan Smith's book: "When You Don't Know What to Say," published by Smith himself and Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City; 2006, 2012, pg. 52:


    "How do you think Joan is doing?" There are several variations on this basic question. Too commonly, the bereaving are forced to go underground with their grief. Subtly, we day - "If you must grieve, do it in private - not where we can see it and definitely not where we can feel it." Grievers who thoroughly grieve, make many of us nervous. We say things like, "What? You're STILL grieving? Why it's been weeks (months)!"

    A "What" can reverberate like thunder. Doug Manning captured this thought in his great book titled "Don't Take My Grief Away from Me." Sometimes the grief-sharer needs to say, "don't et anyone take your grief from you!"

   Manning points out, "You deserve it and you must have it. If you had a broken leg, no one would criticize you for using crutches before it was healed.

... Grief is a major wound. It does not heal overnight. You must have the time and the crutches until you heal." (pg.. 65)

   Grief-sharers (that's you!) can give permission to grievers to take time to heal. It takes time to thoroughly grieve."


________________________________

From Feb. 28:


Joyce Rupp will be a name familiar to many of you. For many years, this author and Roman Catholic has led spiritual retreats around the world. She has written countless best-selling books.

   In 1997, she wrote a lovely creative guide, called “The Cup of Our Life: A Guide for Spiritual Growth.” In it, there is a passage in which she writes about the “broken cups” in our lives: 

“The broken cup reminds me of those times when hurts, wounds, pains and adversities of all sorts invade our lives and change us forever. During these times, all we can do is try to survive, slowly recover, and start anew. It is often difficult for us to give or receive during this brokenness. The pain knocks us over, like a cup on its side. We may feel like all our hope has been drained out of our lives. When the cup of our lives is broken apart it has to have the pieces put back together again.” (The Cup of Life, Joyce Rupp. Published by Ava Maria Press, Indiana, 2007, .” pg.88)

    Do you hear what she is saying here? “All we can do is try to survive through the pain and slowly recover.” Slowly … because coming out of profound pain and grief takes time.

    So – be good to yourself. Take your time. Turn to God. Pray and talk it out with God. Talk to others.

    Those in your life who have your best interests at heart and care about you and your health, are willing to listen.

    Be gentle with yourself. Surround yourself with others who can be gentle with you as well. Don’t be afraid of sharing your lament.

Blessings!

RGK

At "thank goodness," we know how busy you are and how unsettled things can seem at times. 

We invite you to read the meditations and prayers below. 

We hope you find them helpful and thought-provoking.

Hope grows from the smallest of seeds

(A meditation om Mark 4:26-34)


Right: actual sunflowers from High River, Alberta growing in 2014

When was the last time you saw something that inspired a great big “WOW!” to come out of your mouth? Has it been a while?

I think, sometimes, that we are losing our sense of wonder and awe. It’s almost as if we need to have bigger, splashier, shinier, louder – more of everything to amaze us! Isn’t that true about our lives today?

   We need to have greater and greater things to give us that sense of awe. I mean, just think about it. This past year, what made you feel awe-struck? A fair bet would be it was when humankind sent a space craft to Mars – and then, we received pictures from Mars sent all the way back to earth! And the highpoint was when a little helicopter actually flew around up there! How amazing is that?

   It got our attention. What a marvel of science and technology that is! But – is that what it takes for us to feel wonder and awe? Because if that’s it – what in the world are we going to do to top that next?

   Please comfort me by reminding me of the simpler things we all take for granted that are true miracles in life! Don’t ever let me become so blasé by the so-called “great things” that I fail to appreciate the smell of rain or the colour and form of the flower in my garden.

   Remember those times in our own lives when we felt awe during a walk in the woods and a deer crossed our path? Or the way our hearts swell when we see babies of all kinds! Whether puppies or kittens or ducklings or turtles or human babies – our hearts feel like they are physically melting!

   Take a minute in the midst of all the bustle and noise around us in this world in 2021, to think of those miracles that have come down through all the ages … take a minute to get back to the simple things that are really so marvellously complicated and intricate in their very being.

   Do we truly understand how wonderful and amazing life and creation is around us?

   Place a mustard seed from your kitchen cabinet in your hand - or any kind of seed. For all intents and purposes, they will look dry and dead. Yet, with the wisdom passed down from the beginning of life on earth, we know that even those little, tiny seeds have the ability and the drive to grow into large, green, lush, life-giving vegetation of all kinds. How wonderful!

I can’t help thinking about that Parable about the seeds and the little, tiny mustard seed that Mark writes about in Chapter 4 of his Gospel.

   As you know, Jesus spoke in parables. I wonder how frustrated all of us today would be if we had a friend and teacher who spoke to us in Parables all the time!

    “Get to the point, will ya buddy!” we would be screaming at them! We have become a people who are used to having our information served to us like pablum on a spoon! But Jesus – well – he prefers us to meditate and discern about the important things in life. He knows we are perfectly capable of thinking for ourselves and coming up with good answers.

   But here we are reading Mark 4, given this Parable by Jesus in which he says beginning in verse 26: “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

   The planter of the seed is in wonder and awe of the seed growing “he does not know how.” Wonder of wonders! He scatters seed on the ground and it sprouts – he does not know how. And I can just hear the marvel in the gardener’s voice as he tells others about this miracle that the earth produces on its own! And he is grateful as he harvests the fruit of his labours and the work of the earth. And somehow, he knows by nature that God makes this happen.

   And the second Parable he tells is the one about the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, “which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

   And we are left to marvel at the graciousness of such a small seed – and they are very small – growing into such a great shrub that it provides shelter and a home for the beloved birds of the air.

   This is a passage written by Mark to encourage us to marvel at what a blessing the miracle of life is. It is written to assure us that there is order in life even in the midst of chaos around us. It is written to remind us time and time again, that small things count. That even the smallest of hopeful things is incredibly important.

   And most importantly, Mark wrote this passage to tell us, and prove to us, that hope grows – even when we think it is dead.

God knows what God is doing! Rest assured in that! We should take comfort that we live in God’s world. The Creator is still in control.

   Do you remember when, a few years ago, (in 2013) the town of High River in Alberta was devastated by floods? You may have seen photos after the waters had receded of just how brown and barren the town looked. Mud and dirt and silt was everywhere and covered everything!

   What a disaster for the townsfolk! Flood waters, you know, carry toxins of all kinds. They leave behind such things as oil and gas and raw sewage. It has to be cleaned up before people can build again and work the land.

   And so, in a stroke of environmental genius, a Sunday School class at the United Church in town initiated what was called the Sunflower Project. They put a call out across the hole country for other churches to send them packets of sunflowers! Not only would they beautify the town as it crawled back from its barrenness, but life would take care of itself! It turns out that sunflowers are believed to be able to suck dangerous leads out of contaminated soil, helping to purify the ground without the need for more labour-intensive methods.

   Once they heard the church was looking for sunflowers, Canadians all across the country responded! Soon, the townspeople of High River had literally thousands of packages of sunflowers to plant in the spring.

   In the Fall of 2014, photos began to appear of sunflowers everywhere in High River! It was a beautiful sign of hope!

   And who created the world to take care of itself like this? God – our Creator. From a little seed, can come everything: a mustard bush to provide shade in the desert or homes for the birds; a sunflower to provide beauty and take toxins out of the land; and even from a small seed of hope, great things can grow. God provides for us. The Creator always has and always will.

   Now, go plant a seed and watch it grow!

                                                                                      Amen and amen.

Musings on Nick at Night

John 3

Do you ever feel totally in the dark? I think we all do at some time or another. We have days when we don’t know what’s going on. Or maybe, we have no idea how we got into this trouble we’re in. Or, more troubling, we have no idea how our day is going to end.

   We are in the dark. And we have questions that aren’t being answered to our satisfaction. Maybe something is troubling us and we feel the need to go in secret to someone and ask them to help guide us out of the darkness.

   And in that way, we are all Nicodemus. We think we might know the answer to our questions – but we don’t want to give up what we have and know now, for an unknown future. And, we’re still not sure enough or brave enough to share our thoughts with others. It’s just as Nicodemus acknowledged that he knew who Jesus was … and yet, still came to him under the protection of the night. He sure didn’t want others to see him speaking with Jesus! After all, Nicodemus was a leader of his church. What business would he have with Jesus?

   So – did he prefer to slink in undercover?

   It was as if he was too ashamed to admit he wanted to speak to Jesus. He was too afraid to let people know he acknowledged the truth about Jesus … and that he wanted to hang around with him. Because THAT would have got him into a lot of trouble with his religious community and his peers.

   One of the most interesting things about Nicodemus is that he is a stereotype – he is not so much a “real” person as he is a representative of a group of people on the fringes of Jesus’ spiritual world. He is representative of many people who are seeking the WAY to a higher truth. They are torn between two worlds – the traditional one and a newer one - not knowing which way to turn.

   And hopefully, this conversation with Jesus, as written by the author of the Gospel of John, will provide the answers Nicodemus and those he represents are looking for.

   And in our world and our time, doesn’t he represent a stereotype of people today? Folks who are seeking the Way to enlightenment themselves, but don’t quite know how to do it? After all, it’s not surprising that showing up to a building on a Sunday morning to chant prayers with strange words and sing songs from 1840 just isn’t appealing to a lot of people! And we shouldn’t blame them!

   All people are yearning to be fulfilled spiritually. But too many, like Nicodemus and like some of our friends today, don’t have a clue where to turn to find it!

   They may live in the shadow of unfulfilled yearning. So many people feel they are metaphorically in the dark – but don’t know where the light is!

   The difference is, Nicodemus had an inkling that he was there … and he took steps to get himself out of it. Of course, he had the benefit of a physical Jesus as well! In today’s world, that’s why it’s so important for people to be the metaphorical light for others. Our knowledge and faith must shine outwards from us for others to see. More about that later.

   But first, in the story John tells us, we are introduced to the shadow side of Nicodemus. The side that was ruled by fear and perhaps, pride.

   It is said we all have our “shadow sides” of our personalities. Those things that we don’t want to show in the daylight to other people. Author John Mombourquette wrote a book called: “How to Befriend Your Shadow:Welcoming Your Unloved Side.” The premise of his book is that each of us has a 'shadow', composed of everything we have driven into our unconscious for fear of being rejected by the people we loved when we were young. He writes that over the years, we created a whole underground world filled with things that were shameful, displeasing or upsetting to those around us.

   And, of course, Mombourquette attempts to help people navigate their way out of shame and grief in order that they can become full people – just as God intended. His book is not spiritual, so allow me to put it into words that work for me: Our Lord God, our Jesus Christ, the very one whom Nicodemus came to see under the cover of darkness, does not want you to live in a state of shame until the end of your days. Jesus teased Nic by saying “Hey! You’re a leader of your people and yet you come to me with such questions!” But Jesus Christ did not publicly shame Nicodemus for coming to him in darkness – which can be translated as a lack of understanding. Instead, he was welcomed and he was taught. Jesus took the time to teach him about God’s truth. Christ welcomed Nicodemus – an outsider to the established troupe that travelled with Jesus – with Grace and with radical love.

   And it worked! While Nic at Night seems to disappear after this passage that riddles the concept of being born unto earth and again into God, he appears in later chapters as a gentle mourner of what has happened to Jesus. And publicly! It is Nicodemus who helps Joseph of Arithmea remove Christ from the Cross and carry him to be prepared for burial. It appears that his faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, has moved along from tentative to whole-heartedly.

   The love of Christ will not be overcome.

   There is always hope for those who live and move in darkness, whether of their own choosing or by circumstance. And really, who isn’t in need of some enlightenment by Christ at one time or another.

If we’re going to say the words: “we are all sinners,” as Christians understand, then let’s truly accept the condition we are born into and work both WITH it and ON it.

   And while we’re struggling with our own selves, how do we help people who are looking for – yearning for – spiritual fulfillment? We let our own light and faith shine outward from us so all can see. We were created to live in community. I think the pandemic of 2020/21 has proven that to everyone! We miss each other’s company! We do better in community with one another!

    Sociology class years ago taught me that the number one thing people need to live well is a sense of belonging. Show people that they belong to you like family – and they belong to God most of all.

   Tell people that you care about them. And tell folks that the One who Created them loves them more than they will ever know. And if you can’t say it in words – then let your actions speak it for you.

   It’s always been easy to like people who like you and are just like you! Do something radically good … pray for those who are the challenging people in your life!

   As with Nicodemus, we are called to engage in a progressive spiritual movement towards our belief in, and love of, God the Creator, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is a good scripture to be reading on the week of Trinity Sunday in the Christian calendar.

   This is a passage about transformation. Nicodemus was transformed by his encounter with Jesus that night. He came with questions about his faith and left knowing the truth. Nicodemus was one of those Jews who was living on the cusp of change. And he was no longer going to be a fence-sitter about the Messiah. He stepped out of the shadows that night and left as a true believer in the power and love of the Creator, Son, and Holy Spirit.

   We too, are spiritual people living on the cusp of change and we have decisions to make as we move forward. The difference is, we don’t have to approach Christ under darkness. We can take all our questions and our burdens to the Lord.

   Just don’t expect easy answers. Our Creator likes to make life interesting like that!

   Hold your head high and remember who you are – a beautiful child of this universe! Have a great week.


   Look forward to the near future when we can all be together again and have opportunities to be good to someone else. 

Pentecost Sunday 2021

Thank the Lord for the excitement of the Holy Spirit!

Acts 2:1-21 

Have you ever been given a gift – you know, one of those little things at an office Christmas party or a family gift exchange or a birthday even, and you open it up and you’re not quite sure what it is at first?

   Is it a scarf? Or is it a table runner?

   Is it a fancy bottle opener … or is it a new-fangled utility tool? A tire gauge or a meat thermometer?

   Is it a jar of liquid honey … or is it someone’s overly-runny marmalade? Hmmm… and you try to fudge your words so that you don’t offend the person, all the while trying to figure out what you got there?

    That’s kind of the way Pentecost is. of course, in a deeper sense.

   The story’s pretty exciting: the leaders of the early church all gathered in one place when suddenly there was the sound of rushing wind like a tornado, then tongues of fire appeared resting on everyone’s head, and each one of them began speaking the gospel in other languages.

   Here on Pentecost, in dramatic fashion, something has been given to the church: a gift from God. But when we open it up, what exactly is this gift? What is it for? The gift on Pentecost is the Holy Spirit, of course. And to be a part of the church is to say, "We have received the gift of the Holy Spirit."

   But when you take the wrapping paper off, what exactly is this gift of the Holy Spirit? Is it a scarf or a table runner? Is it a tire gauge or a meat thermometer?

   This story fascinates people. The power of the wind moving like a freight train through the congregation, of tongues of fire resting over people's heads. And they say, "Ah, I know what the gift is! The gift of Pentecost is the gift of energy and excitement in the church." Pentecost is God's way of shaking the moss off the church, blowing the cobwebs out of the sanctuary, and allowing lightning and excitement to energize us.

   And God knows, we need it. I would just LOVE to seriously say to you on any given Sunday: raise your hands if you’re bored! And, I KNOW some of you would raise your hands – at least inside your heads you would!

   Believe me… there isn’t a Minister alive who would be surprised when people raised their hands. Most bored people let us know by just staying home on a Sunday morning! 

   Oh, we’re so serious in church!

    We have budgets to meet! Money to raise! Committees to run and important decisions to make such as whether to pave a parking lot or fix the roof first; or where to put a blue chair; or if the music is too loud – or not loud enough…

   All understandable, by the way. We tell you this is YOUR church … we want you to have ownership in it and so you will have opinions on things such as real flowers or fake flowers.

    And when we aren't bound up in day-to-day disputes, we're trying to face staggering problems in the world like war and poverty and health and education. And it begins to weigh us down.

   Wouldn't it be nice to be lifted up and to have the life of the church flying like a kite, tugging at us in the powerful wind of the Spirit, with energy and excitement? Now that’s the gift of Pentecost!

   This gift that we receive on Pentecost Sunday is the gift of power. After all, Jesus did say to the disciples, "When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you shall receive power."

   And if it's power we receive this day, then God knows we need it. There used to be a time, when the church had a certain kind of clout in the world, when it was viewed with respect and prestige. But today, Christians are perceived by many to be walking out of step with the world around us.

   I remember about 20 years ago attending a zoning change meeting in my community where neighbours were against the building of a church on an empty lot because it would ruin their ability to sit on their decks on a Sunday morning and enjoy a beer!

   Such foolishness! And by the way, the church was eventually built with the proviso that a good buffer of trees separated it from its residential neighbours.

   We obviously have the power to make people uncomfortable. And that’s historic, because Jesus did that to people too. But the power we are given by God is not that – rather, it is the power of gentleness and humility and quiet strength.

    I know you all know this Aesop Fable I'm about to tell you, but it bears repeating today: It's called “The North Wind and the Sun?”

   The North Wind and the Sun were fighting over who was the most powerful. And they agreed that the one who could make a man who was walking down the road take his coat off, would be declared the victor.

   The North Wind tried his power first and blew with all his might, but the harder he blasted this poor guy, the closer the Traveler wrapped his cloak around him, and so finally, the north wind turned to the sun and said: "see what you can do."

   The Sun suddenly shone out with all his warmth. The Traveler no sooner felt that warmth than he not only took off his coat, but eventually shed all his clothes. The sun was declared the victor.

   The power of Pentecost is the power of warmth and light. It's not the kind of power that the world thinks of as power. It is the power of being able to move with God’s breath; to feel the warmth and passion of God’s fire; to be able to speak in the language that God gives all Christians - the language of compassion, with the power to heal the world. We are given the language with the words to speak in the brokenness and tragedy that affects ourselves and all others.

   There’s an interesting story I came across recently about Dr. Elizabeth Kubler Ross that I had never heard before. Apparently, when she was writing her famous book on death and dying, part of her research involved interviewing dying patients in the hospital, trying to find out how they felt and thought as they faced death.

   When she did her rounds in the hospital, she began to notice a pattern. Sometimes she would go into a dying person's room and the person would be calm, at peace, and tranquil. She also began to notice that often this was after the patient's room had been cleaned by a certain hospital worker.

   One day, Dr. Ross happened to run into this person leaving one of the rooms, and she said to her, "What are you doing with my patients?"

   The woman thought she was being reprimanded and said, "I'm not doing anything with your patients."

   "No, no," said Dr. Ross. "It's a good thing. After you go into their rooms, they seem at peace. What are you doing with my patients?"

   "I just talk to them," the woman said. "You know, I've had two babies of my own die on my lap. But God never abandoned me. I tell them that. I tell them that they aren't alone, that God is with them, and that they don't have to be afraid."

   That's the gift at Pentecost: passionate and gentle words to speak among the brokenness and tragedy of the world. Words and actions that give hope wherever it is needed.

   Pentecost doesn’t have to be one Sunday that we celebrate birth and renewal. Pentecost is a feeling of enthusiasm for our church; and joy of having a church family and community; and Holy energy that is breathed into us and seared with fire onto our hearts.

   Those first disciples burned with a steady inward fire and couldn’t wait to get out and tell people about Jesus Christ. Today, we do that not by evangelizing and standing on a soapbox on a street corner; but by the example of who we are. We know God’s language, we feel God’s spirit all around us and we have the power to heal others with simple words and actions.

Amen and Amen! 

This is a lovely adaptation of Psalm 23:


From the Unitarian Universalists: “PSALM 23 FOR THIS MOMENT”

By Kevin Tarsa


May I remember in this tender moment

that Love is my guide, always,

shepherding me toward ways of openness and compassion.

I have what I need, really, with Love at my side,

above me, below me, in front of me, behind me,

inside every cell of me,

Love infused everywhere!

Just when the weight of the world I inhabit

threatens to drop me in place

and press my hope down into the ground beneath me

Love invites me to rest for a gentle while,

and leads the center of my soul to the quiet, still,

restoring waters nearby that,

somehow,

I had not noticed.

And so, Love, quietly,

sets me once again on its tender and demanding path.

Even when the walls close around me

and the cries of death echo through untold corners,

gripping my heart with fear and sadness,

I know... I know… that all will be well, that I will be well,

when Love whispers near to me,

glints at the corner of my eye,

rests with gentle and persistent invitation upon my shoulders.

Yes, Love blesses me,

Even as the sources and symbols of my pain look on.

Love blesses me from its infinite well,

And I turn and notice...

that goodness and kindness and grace,

follow me everywhere, everywhere I go.

I live in a house of Love,

Love that will not let me go.

I live in a house of love,

And always will.


Note: this prayer, Psalm 23 is re-cast in the language of Love, and was written for the 2017 GA memorial service in honour of former UUA Moderator, Jim Key (Universalist)


A PRAYER FOR THE DOUBTING THOMASES

Gracious and loving God, you are the Guiding Light in our world of uncertainty. 

You are the Power that brings peace out of chaos.

Today, we stand before you in awe of your eternal goodness and love for us. 

We are here, still basking in the joy of your resurrection and presence. 

And we ask forgiveness for wandering from you in our own self-sufficiency 

when we think we alone can create lives filled with hope, love, joy and forgiveness of others. 

In our humility, forgive us for our foolishness.

Forgive our doubts about your goodness and presence and thank you 

for encouraging our questions that serve to pull us closer to you in faith. 

Especially, thank you for guiding us to answers that continue to comfort and strengthen us.

May we always feel your presence. 

May we always know you encourage our questions and provide us with the Way to truthful answers. 

And may you walk with us as we share the Good News that you live among us.

On this day, we pray for those among us and those afar, who are suffering in any way today. 

We know that you also suffer when we feel pain, anxiety, loneliness, depression, 

and estrangements from those we love. 

We know you are always working to heal those wounds and burdens we carry.

Be with all those this week who are grieving the loss of loved ones, of situations that they cherished, 

and relationships they no longer have.

May the power of your Holy Spirit bring light wherever there are shadows in this world. 

May your Light bring peace to places where peace is hard to find; 

Comfort to those who are uncomfortable, 

and Love to those who feel unlovable.

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.


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