Saturday, December 13, 2014

Friday Five Warm-Up for Sermonatin'

Oh, wow--I have been lax. ANd no excuse except laziness--I am not extraordinarily busy or anything. 
So, as procrastination a warm-up exercise for my sermon, the RevGals Friday Five (only ONE day late): 
1. What song are you grooving to these days?
I have discovered PostModern Jukebox, a group that takes music of today and re-creates it as the music of yesteryear. One of my faves is Lorde's "Royals" as sung by Puddles Pity Party (The Sad Clown with the Golden Voice):

2. If YOU were a room in your home, what would it be, and why?
Well, there's an interesting question. I would like to think I am a living room/lounge/salon, welcoming all kinds of people and having all kinds of conversation.
3.  What ever happened to LipSmackers?  Does anyone remember that lip balm from the 70's?  Do you have a recommendation for a really awesome lip balm?
Yes, I remember them! I had watermelon and chocolate cherry flavours! I like Burt's Bees--comes in plain and lipstick colours.
4.  Tell us about a tiny  (or HUGE) grace moment from this week.
I worked from home on Friday because my back was giving me trouble--the grace is in the facts that I have work to do that I love, I can go to the doctor if needed, I have a warm and safe home to work in, and I have access to the technology that allows me to do that (computers, internet, electricity...). 
5.  If you could just have any treat/snack in the world right now, what it would be and with whom would you share it? (assuming you are in a sharing kind of mood.
"Gebrannte Mandeln"--Glazed Almonds, German-style, cinnamon flavour, please, and I would share with my son. He spent a couple of the early years of his life in Munich, and loved them, as do I. He's away training for the military, and I think of him every day. They are also very appropriate for the season--I always think of them in a paper "horn," still warm in my hand as we shopped the Christmas markets.
Enjoy, and please let us know you played in the comments and post a link to your blog; or play in the comments or even on Facebook!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Rev Gals Friday Five (a day late)---O Christmas Tree!

Five for the Christmas tree! 

1) Real tree, or “fake?”
For most of my life, it was real trees only. Then my son developed asthma…and it was artificial trees for many years. Now I don’t actually put up a tree at all—mainly due to the lack of space in my apartment. I do put up a crèche and other decorations, I just don’t have the floor space for even a small tree.

2) White or colored lights?
Coloured, absolutely. I admire the beauty of all-white lights on a tree (and agreed, they are more candle-like) but I love the warmth of all the colours, red, blue, gold, purple, blue, orange, green, reflecting on the pine needles and the ornaments.

3) When do you put up and take down your tree?
It went up the second Saturday of December, usually, depending on other events (holiday parties, concerts, visitors, etc.). I hope to get my Christmas decorating done today, if I can get the sermon done and quit procrastinating .
Take down was usually New Year's Day or the Saturday after, when I was growing up. As an adult, it usually stayed up until around Epiphany--especially since my son's birthday is the day after Epiphany and we usually needed the space for the birthday celebrations.

4) Tell us about your favorite ornament (share a picture, if you can).
There are three, actually. One is a blue satin star with “icicles” that I bought at a craft fair when I was still at university. It was a couple of months after my then-boyfriend had proposed, and so it was the first thing we bought for our life together. The second is one my son made at daycare one year—a photo of him in front of a Christmas tree, encircled by a snowflake he had coloured. He was, I think, about 3 at the time. He is 25 now… Finally, a Corgi ornament, complete with scarf, given to me the year Morgan the Wonder Corgi joined our family. I miss that dog terribly and would love to own one again…the ornament reminds me of him and brings back some great memories of him at Christmas—lying under the tree, grabbing cookies someone unwisely placed on the coffee table within his reach, bouncing through the snow like a rabbit….

5) What goes on the top of your tree (again, share a photo, if possible)?
As a child, it was a steeple. Later, it was the blue star from #4. More recently, I have a lovely folk-art tin star. One of these days I will have a tree again and it will go back up.

Bonus: Are there traditions about decorating your tree that you’d like to share?
The German pickle! In the German tradition, a pickle (ornament) is hidden on the tree by the parents (I think it is supposed to remind us that life is sometimes sour, but I could be wrong). The child who finds it gets a treat. I have a heavy blown-glass one that I love.
Edited to add: I checked this out online and there seems to be a belief that this is new and not German at all. However, I can vouch for pickle ornaments of all kinds back in the early 1980's (when I lived in Germany) and German friends having them on their trees as well. It was not new to them!

When I was a kid, the whole family (well, whoever was in town) would get together, have eggnog or hot chocolate, and decorate the tree—in a very specific order (lights, bead garlands, steeple, clip-on ornaments, rest of the ornaments, icicles), while we listened to (and sang along with) Christmas carols. Last of all, the white sheet would go around the tree stand to stand for snow. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Five--the Advent of Advent

Five Things About Advent

Photo--Tom ('Mas) Pickering via Flickr; used under Creative Commons License
1. I love Advent--there is something about the expectation, the preparations, both in the church and in the world, that makes this such a time of possibility. It is a sad truth that Advent is a busy time for clergy. Just when I would like to be settling in for quiet contemplation and preparation, I am busy with preparations for our congregation's annual meeting, the Pride Centre's annual meeting, extra worship services, and my own holiday planning.

2. My image of Advent is a candle on a windowsill--waiting, watching, hoping, prepared, for the One who will come in the dark night. There's also a sense of safety, warmth, and coziness that I think is born of my memories of coming home on wintry Michigan afternoons, cold and possibly wet, from the walk home from the bus stop, the light from the stars we hung in our windows casting a soft golden glow of invitation, guiding me home.

3. My most poignant memories of Advent are of the year I was expecting my son. He was due January 2, and so that Advent and Christmas I felt especially close to Mary, experiencing that last month of pregnancy before the birth. All those Braxton-Hicks contractions, the sensation of waddling more than walking (I should mention that I am 5'5", and my son weighed 9 pounds 15 ounces at birth, and was 23 inches long....), the collecting of baby needs at the same time we were Christmas shopping... Setting up the crib and the Christmas tree at the same time...

4. I've been on a bit of a journey the last few years, and this year I feel settled enough emotionally and literally that I want to do my usual Advent baking/cooking (several kinds of Christmas cookies, hot spiced wine, eggnog, etc.). But my apartment kitchen is so small and has so little counter space that cookies have to cool on my desk and the top of the microwave. This makes it difficult to bake much. Still, a batch or two here and there--I will do my best this year.

5. Advent really means "coming to"--Christ "coming to" us. But we can also see it as us "coming to" awareness of Christ--in the world, in each other, in ourselves. Christ is born in many ways, only one of which is a manger.

Narrative Lectionary Prayers for November 16, 2014

Call to Worship
One: Come, my friends! It is time!
Many: We were glad when they said to us, it is time to worship.
One: Come and celebrate our God!
Many: We have received so much from God’s bounty—the material needs of life, grace, hope, and love.

One: Come, give thanks and celebrate!

Reconciliation/Assurance of Pardon
One: My friends, we are only human.
Many: And that is grief enough to bow a ruler’s head and honour enough to lift a beggar’s head.
One: Let us go to God in prayer and contrition. Holy One, we know we have not done what we should have done; and sometimes we did what we should not have.
Many: We have ignored the needy; turned away our friends; used our gifts and graces for minor things instead of bringing about your realm.
One: We could not bring ourselves to do what we knew you would have us do. For all these, we ask with confidence for your grace and forgiveness, and resolve to be our better selves.
Many: We know that you have forgiven us before we ask; therefore we thank you, Holy One.
One: In the name of the Christ, we are forgiven!
Many: We are forgiven!

One: It is time to go.
Many: Time to go out into the world again.
One: Wherever your path leads you in the coming days, God goes with you
Many: God is always present, to guide, and lead, and strengthen.
One: May the love of God, creator, redeemer and sustainer, remain with you now and unto your life eternal. Amen.
Many: Amen.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Narrative Lectionary Prayers and Communion November 9, 2014

Call to Worship 
One: Once again, we are here.
Many: We have come looking for comfort, for refreshment, for another taste of God’s presence in our lives.
One: It is good for us to be here.

Many: And it is good for us to take the good news, the comfort, the refreshment, into the world for those who need them.

One: It has been another week, O God, and once again we must admit to stumbling.
Many: Once again, we have not done what we wished to do, or done it poorly.
One: Forgive our weakness, give us strength and courage to do what we know is right.
Many: For we know that nothing can separate us from your love. Amen.
One: My friends, before we have asked, God has forgiven us. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven!
Many: We are forgiven! Thanks be to God!

One: Lift up your hearts!
Many: We lift them up to our living God!
One: God of all creation, you made humans in your image, giving us your divine impulse to create and do new things. But in our arrogance, we took the earth as a possession, without thought for tomorrow, our sisters and brothers to come, or your divine plan. We mocked the ones you sent to set us back on your path. We call them saints but do not always follow their teachings, whining that they are too difficult for us. So in the end you sent Jesus the Christ, bearing witness to your grace and healing power, to show your presence with us always. And on the night before he paid the ultimate price for proclaiming your truth, he gathered with his friends in an upper room. There he took the bread, blessed it after the manner of his people, and broke it, then shared it among them with these words:
Many: This is my body, opened for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
One: And when the meal was over, he took the cup and blessed it after the manner of his people, then passed it among his friends with these words:
Many: This is my love, poured out for you and for all nations. Do this in remembrance of me.
One: Remembering all that God has given us, remembering the saints who have gone before us, testifying to your grace, we are bold to proclaim the mystery of our faith:
Many: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again! Go and tell!
One: Gracious God, we ask that you would make these gifts of grain and grape to be what we need them to be, in order for us to carry your love and healing with us. Pour out your spirit on cup and bread; make them a foretaste of your heaven and our hope. Amen.

One: We have shared in the words of God, in the bread of life, our joys and our fears. Now as we go out into the world again, we take the wisdom, the strength, and the hope of God with us.
Many: Amen! Thanks be to God.
One: The love of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and the grace of Christ go with you now and always, Amen.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Five--Sweet or Salty?

The RevGals Meme this Friday is abiout Halloween treats! Practicing for next week, Deb says.

So here we go.

From Pixabay Free Images

1. Sweet or salty, the gotta-have treat.
This is a tough one, actually. I love chocolate-peanut butter confections, so Snickers bars, Reese's, and ice cream containing these items are winners, as are DQ's Peanut Buster Parfaits. But then I like the nougatty stuff in 3Musketeers, and the cool bite of Junior Mints (best movie treat, hands down!). Cinnamony things are good too. And gummy bears! Oh, and candy corn!
That's the sweet side...
Salty? Chex mix. Absolutely. Although popcorn with Old Bay spice is quite tasty too. Until they make Chex mix with Old Bay. Then I am toast.
For the win, though, is a mix of salty and sweet--I love all the salted caramel stuff and a friend makes caramel and chocolate-dipped pretzel rods that are to die for. And of course Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby ice cream.

2. How do I stay strong with all that temptation (especially this time of year)?
I do my level best to bring none of it home. I will have it at church coffee hour, my weekly coffee date with a friend, and so on. But I know that if I bring any of that home, it will be gone--to my hips. I know because I recently tried bringing home a bag of chocolate chip cookies--they were gone in two days.

3. Have I cut or decreased the sugar in my diet? 
I have tried, and once was told to by a doctor (borderline gestational diabetes). It is very hard! There's a lot of sugar in products you wouldn't think of as having sugar in them, but there it is. I keep my sugar in my coffee/tea, and rarely add it to anything else (i.e., cereal). I am trying to reach for fruit when I crave something sweet. I have tried stevia, but the taste puts me off.

4. One sweet I will never give up, ever. 
 Chocolate, in one form or another--bars, sauce, in coffee, whatever. Got to have some chocolate every week.

5. If I were a candy bar, which would I be? 
Probably my favourite, Snickers. You've got the nougat, the caramel, the chocolate--and a little bit nutty!

Bonus: a recipe or tip that uses up leftover sweets at my house:
What leftover sweets?

Narrative Lectonary Liturgy for October 26, 2014

Sorry I missed last week! I have seen a lot more resources popping up in the Facebook group, which is a Good Thing! 

Here's my take on the Narrative Lectionary readings for October 26, in case someone still needs something. 

Call to Worship
One:  We’ve travelled a long way!
Many: A very long way! But we are here to celebrate God’s love and wisdom!
One: I was glad when they said to me, “Let’s go to worship God!”

Many: Let’s go to worship God!

One: Eternal Wisdom, we have not been wise. We have stumbled and fallen; we have knowingly done what we should not have done and left undone what we should have done.
Many: We have not cared for our brothers and sisters who are in need: of food, shelter, protection, a smile, a helping hand.
One: We have not been present for our sisters and brothers who needed us: encouragement, a listening ear, a visit, simple comfort, or even just a cup of tea and conversation. 
Many: Forgive us our weakness and give us a fresh anointing of your love and grace. Amen.
One : My sisters and brothers, nothing at all can separate us from the love of our wise and generous God. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven!
Many: Thanks be to God! Amen!

One: As we go out into the world to share this good news, God’s presence, God’s wisdom, and God’s love go with us always.
Many: Thanks be to God!
One: May the wisdom, grace and blessing of God be yours, now and forever.
Many: Amen!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Narrative Lectionary Liturgy Bits--October 12, 2014

Here's what I came up with for the Call to Worship and Benediction. I have also been using two resources, Bread for the Journey (ed., Ruth Duck) and Touch Holiness (ed. Ruth Duck and Maren Tirabassi; seems to be out of print) with of course due credit given! They use inclusive language, too, which I appreciate. They are mostly arranged around the church year, so they can be used with either lectionary cycle.

Call to Worship
One: We are mortal, and our days are like grass; we flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and lost to memory.
Many: But from everlasting to everlasting God’s love is with those who revere God, and God’s blessings with their descendants, with those who listen to God’s instructions and keep God’s covenant.
One: Praise God, you angels who do God’s bidding and who obey God’s word. 
Many:  Praise the Eternal One, all the heavenly hosts, you God’s servants who do God’s  will.  Praise God, O my soul.

(from Psalm 103)

One: As we part from each other and go out into the world, into our work, our week, God goes with us.
Many: Amen!
One: Wherever your journey takes you, God goes with you.
Many: Thanks be to God!
One: And may the blessing of Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer rest upon you now and eternally, amen.
Many: Amen!

Friday, October 03, 2014

Friday Five, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up Edition

The RevGals meme this week is about the down times in our lives. 

"For today’s FF, share with us five things you learned about coping with such a situation. These can be practical tips from the perspective of one needing care or one giving care, or maybe some personal insights gleaned from the experience. Or, anything related, like a humorous situation that resulted."

Well, this one is easy for me. About six years ago, I dealt with breast cancer (see the tag "It's Nothing" here). My experiences with recovering from surgery and then surviving chemotherapy and radiation treatment give me a lot of fodder! 

So here we go--

1. Healing takes energy, including mental/spiritual energy.  I knew I would be tired a lot, and be spending a lot of time on the couch/in bed. I had ideas of using all that down time for catching up on my professional reading, maybe working on a book idea I had, reading all the books in my To Be Read pile, walks by the river for exercise... Yeah, so none of that happened. I read, but it was either light fiction (mysteries and chick lit) or books I had read before (comfort reads, like Jane Eyre and Emma and King Hereafter), or watching moveis. I simply could not focus on anything that required me to follow a logical argument for more than five minutes. Same with writing--I had no focus. As for walking--the energy just was not there. There were days it was a triumph to get downstairs and spend the day there, rather than in bed. I continued to lead the congregation, but gave myself the Sunday after my chemo infusions off from the sermon. Also, for health reasons, I stopped consecrating and serving Communion and sharing individual prayers after Communion (too much close physical contact with people for my oncologist's comfort). So my spiritual energy was channelled into my sermons, which worked well. I did miss being part of Communion, though. 

2. It's OK to say "No." Before and after my diagnosis and treatment, I was very involved in the community. But I just did not have the energy (see above) or the time during it to be as involved. I was astonished to find out how much of my time was taken up with appointments and treatments and various sorts of therapy and tests. So I had to take a break from everything but the church. And guess what? Not one board or organization fell apart because I was not there! I was apparently missed, but they got along fine without me. Humbling and also good to know. 

3. It's OK to say "Yes." To help, that is. I've mentioned my personal catering service here before (a friend who called every Friday afternoon to get my dinner order--from Chinese to sushi to macaroni salad--whatever I was in the mood for and could eat--and she would then drop it off on her way home from work). The deacon in the congregation took over Communion for me; clergy colleagues preached for me when I could not; our lay leader took over presiding at Board meetings. When my mother came to stay for a week or so, I felt guilty that she was doing the cleaning and cooking (including running laundry up and down the rickety basement steps), but she reminded me that I was the one who needed her help at that moment--and she could give it, so I should just accept that gift. I did say yes to two events some people thought I could have turned down or cancelled--a wedding and a committal of ashes. But the wedding was a small quiet one, and the committal was for the parent of a couple I had married a few years before, and who had become friends. Sometimes it is OK to say "yes" to things others think you are not ready for. Listen to your own body and spirit. 

4. Be gentle on yourself. Don't pretend to be superwoman, and don't feel guilty for needing more support and assistance from the people in your life. You are not operating at your usual capacity or speed, and your energy is necessarily going to different things. You should not apologise or minimise this. Healing is your job, for this period of time, whether it is a weekend getting over a cold or six months worth of chemo and radiation. (This is the one I had the most trouble with; I really thought I should be able to carry on through everything)

5. Preparation is key! The week or two between my diagnosis and my surgery was spent doing things like setting up automatic payments for utilities, re-arranging my living room for comfort, getting the oven fixed, and laying in a stock of tapioca and ginger ale. I also spent a lot of time off-loading duties, tasks and offices to other people, clearing my decks of everything but the most basic functions at church and the house. I also spent a lot of time doing research and joined a couple of online forums. I like to have an idea what might be going to happen, so that research was self-care. Fore-warned is fore-armed and all that. 

I think it all boils down to taking care of yourself. For those of us whose life work involves caring for others, that can be hard--our instinct is to give, not to take. But this is a time above all others when you should allow others to minister to you--which is a ministry in itself. 

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Lectionary Liturgy October 5, 2014

Call to Worship
One: Holy One, you have written your law of love on our hearts.
Many: We give thanks for your guidance and wisdom.
One: This is a celebration of our God’s love for us!
Many: How can we respond to God’s love except with joy and celebration? Amen!

One: Eternal One, here we are again. We have again failed to live up to our best selves.
Many: We have not loved, we have not shared, we have not cared as we intended.
One:  Give us wisdom and courage to try again

Many: Knowing that your grace forgives us, we will rise and try again, with your love to guide us. Amen.

One: God is with you!
Many: And also with you!
One: Lift your hearts to the One who loves you.
Many: We lift our spirits in joy to our Creator.
One: Ever-Living God, you gave humankind free choice and laws to guide us in the use of that free choice. When we forgot your love and turned away, you sent prophets and wise men and women to remind us, but we persisted in following our own way. In your love, you showed us a new way through your child Jesus the Christ and his example of loving, healing, and sharing; but still we turned our own way. Be present to us in these gifts of grain and grape; remind us of your love for us, your presence with us, and your gentle guidance. May this meal bind us closer together with you and with each other to share ourselves as we share this bread and wine.
One: On the night in which he gave himself up to those who did not understand his message of mutual sharing and love, Jesus gathered his friends together in a small room. There, he took the bread and blessed it after the manner of his people and shared it with his friends, saying
Many: This is my body, opened for you. Take and eat in memory of me.
One: After the meal, he took the cup, and blessing it after the manner of his people, shared it with his friends, saying
Many: This is my love, poured out for you and for all nations. Take and drink in memory of me.
One: Holy One, pour out your blessing on these gifts of bread and wine. May they be for us just what we need them to be; may they open our hearts to your presence and your guiding, today and always. Amen.

One: Bless our seeking
Many: That we may find
One: Bless our study
Many: That we may learn
One: Bless our journey
Many: That we may come home to you. Amen.

"Exodus to Egypt” September 28, 2014, MCC Windsor (Narrative Lectionary)

Exodus 14:10-14, 21-29
As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to God, and they said to Moses, Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Werent there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didnt we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. Its better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”
But Moses told the people, “Dont be afraid. Just stand still and watch God rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. God own self will fight for you. Just stay calm.
Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and God opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!
Then the Egyptiansall of Pharaohs horses, chariots, and charioteerschased them into the middle of the sea. But just before dawn God looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and threw their forces into total confusion. God twisted their chariot wheels, making their chariots difficult to drive. “Lets get out of hereaway from these Israelites!the Egyptians shouted. The Holy One is fighting for them against Egypt!
When all the Israelites had reached the other side, God said to Moses, Raise your hand over the sea again. Then the waters will rush back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and charioteers.So as the sun began to rise, Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the water rushed back into its usual place. The Egyptians tried to escape, but God swept them into the sea. Then the waters returned and covered all the chariots and charioteersthe entire army of Pharaoh. Of all the Egyptians who had chased the Israelites into the sea, not a single one survived.
But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, as the water stood up like a wall on both sides.

 Matthew 2:13-15
After the wise men were gone, an angel of God appeared to Joseph in a dream. Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,the angel said. Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.
That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herods death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I called my child out of Egypt.

Will you pray with and for me? You who are always with us, give us courage to follow when you point out the way. Grant us your vision for this world, and the wisdom to make this world your realmon earth as it is in heaven. In all your names, amen.

Last week Rev. Roland spoke of Joseph and his time in prison. So  how did we get to the Red Sea? The rest of the story is that while in prison, Joseph made several correct predictions from the dreams of others, and was able to save Egypt from a famine. Back home, his father (who thought Joseph had been killed by wild animals) and his brothers were facing the same famine, and sent emissaries to Egypt to ask for help. Joseph recognised them as his brothers and they were reconciled. Jacob and the rest of the family moved to Egypt, where they were given land and settled in. Butand here is where our story today picks upmany years later, the Hebrews were still in Egypt, but treated more like slaves. Under Moses, and with the guidance of God, they left Egypt to return to Canaantheir promised land. But the ruler of Egypt, Pharaoh, changed his mind and decided he didnt want to let them go, so he chased after the fugitives with his cavalry. The Hebrews are caught between the sea and Pharaohs army. This is where our story picks up.

They are caught between a sea too deep to swimand they have no boatsand an army bearing down on them. There seems no escape. But God makes a way out of no way, and opens the sea for them. The sea parts, leaping backwards in the Cecil B DeMille image that I think all of us of a certain age have. They cross through on the sea bed and when Pharaohs army tries to cross, they are all drowned. The Hebrews are safe on the other side of the sea.
And they are going to their Promised Landnone of them have ever been there, not even Moses, their leader. They dont know the way, or how they will survive on the way. They have no idea how or when they will get there. But they are out of Egypt, and going to a Promised Land of milk and honey.

Sounds like a church, doesnt it? We, here at MCCW, we have been in Egypt, in prison like Josephwe have had our times of struggle, both as a church community and as individuals. We have faced serious illnesses, we have been rejected by family or friends when we came out, we are in recovery from addiction, we have lost loved oneswe have been in Egypt.

And we have a promised land, toowe say it every week in the prayer Jesus taught usmake our earth like heaven, may your will, God, be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

But we dont know how to get there. We dont know quite what it is supposed to look like, except that it is supposed to be better somehow. We have never been there, none of usand like the Hebrews, we tend to complain that this is hard work and we want to sit down where we are and call that the Promised Land.

But it isnt, is it?

So we have to look at how we are going to get therewe will talk about where MCCWindsor's Promised Land might be in a few weeks, so be thinking about thatbut we need to be sure we have what we need for the journey there.

What does a community need to flourish and grownot merely survive, but grow? A community, whether it is a church or a town or a family,  needs people who will give of themselves. We all have different gifts and different resources, but we can all give of ourselves. 
It boils down to thisif you have felt nurtured and sustained by this community, if you have found support, encouragement, friendship, a closer relationship with Godany or all of these thingshere in this church community, then share some of that support and nurture and love with others by supporting this community in whatever way you can. It would be lovely if the worship celebrations simply happenedbut they dont, do they? We need a place to worship, we need a telephone and website and Facebook so people can find out about us, where we are, what we are doing; we need to purchase paper for the bulletins, and wafers for communion. We need people to set up the altar, play the music, make sure the sound system is working, set up coffee hour, keep the books, make sure the insurance we need to keep our doors open is paid. We need canned goods and other food for the WellCome Centre Christmas dinner, and gifts for the families we support at Family Services and Community Living. We need people to pray for the church, for each other, for the larger world beyond our doors. We need people to share.

The Hebrews did not go through the water alonethey went through together, with Moses leading them, but even he didnt know where they were going, and in fact, Moses never saw the Promised Land. But he listened to God and followed Gods directions, and together the Hebrews as a people made it, But they didnt know that when they stood on that muddy shore and looked one way to the army of Pharaoh and the other to the deep sea.

Many of you remember our 25th anniversary celebration, back in January 2012. Wasnt that great? A whole weekend of time spent with each other and with Rev. Elder Troy Perrydinners and stories and memories and worship. The memories people had of the early Pride celebrations, led by MCCW; the outreach through monthly dinners and a hotline; and more 
recently, our work with Community Living, Family Services and the WellCome Centre. We remembered MCCW as a safe place, a place where we could be all of who we were, our true selves, when the rest of the world was not so welcoming or accepting. We remembered the mutual support in difficult times--I remember the care I received when I was going through my cancer treatment. We remembered the friendships, the laughter, the love, those wonderful moments when we knew we made a positive difference in the life of Windsor.

What will the memories be in another 25 years? What will members of MCCW be remembering at our 50th anniversary celebration? What memories will they have? We here today, you and I, are the ones who will be making those memories. We who have been fed spiritually and emotionally here, who have found a home and a shelter and a safe
place and a launching pad for our dreams and hopeswe are the ones who will bring MCCW on the next stage of the journey to the promised Land. We are the ones who will share our resourcesour time, our talent, and yes, our treasure, tooto bring those dreams to life. We know what this church has been, is, and can becan we do any less than nurture each other, this community, go together through that Red Sea and find out what God has planned for us? Can we do any less for and with the God who has, through this community, lifted us, loved us, led us? God didnt just bring the Hebrews to the other sideGod went with them every step of the way, even though they had no idea where they were going, how they would be fed, how they would get thereGod was with them. God is with us too, my sisters and brothers. God goes with us on this journey we take in communitytogether, with God strengthening us, we can move on the next stage in our journey.

In your bulletin, you received a brochure and a form "My Pledge," Today we will prayerfully consider how we might share our time in support of MCC Windsor. In the coming weeks we will also consider how we might share our talents and our treasures. For now, take a few moments to pray about this; and as we sing our response hymn, consider how you are being called to share your time. Then write your commitment on the form. There are two copies of the form--one is for you to place in the offering plate--your promise to God--and the other is for you to take with you, to remind you of your pledge. Post it on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, the back door--wherever you will see it everyday, and be reminded of it. The usher has pens and pencils if you need one.

Shall we pray--loving God, open our hearts, minds and spirits to your call on our lives. You have given us so much; bless us as we share that bounty with others. In all your names, amen.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Five--Fall Goodies!

It's Friday, and you know what that means... Yes, a Friday Five from the RevGals! This week, to celebrate fall, we're looking at yummy stuff...always a favourite of mine.
So here we go...
1. What's your best homemade treat? Is it worth all the effort? (It doesn't have to be something canned.)
I used to make apple butter every year. I lived in the Washington DC area at the time, and we would take a Sunday afternoon, drive out into the country for lunch somewhere, and stop at an orchard on the way home, I'd pick up a bushel or so of apples, and then I would spend a day cooking them down into apple butter--which is basically applesauce that you keep cooking until it is thick, I canned it and used it for Christmas gifts, but I kept several jars--we loved it on toast! Worth the effort--yes. Would I do it now? Sadly, I no longer have the time or equipment (dutch oven, pressure cooker) to make it.
2. At our house, applesauce and football are the harbingers of fall. What are they at your house?
Caramel and apples. Caramel apples, caramel apple pie, apple crisp (one of my faves!), apple butter, cider, apples and cheddar cheese...etc. Football used to be, but not so much these days, with the Tigers in the playoffs and all... :D
3. Someone gave me an "automatic" apple peeler from one of those home cooking product shows. (It doesn't work all that great.) What's one kitchen contraption or tool you'd gladly trade me for it?
I used to have a bread maker. Space waster is more like it. Yes, it did all the mixing and kneading and rising and punching and baking for you...but that was part of the point of making my own bread. I loved going through the whole process, being able to spend a day making bread. A friend of mine makes artisanal bread, and I love his descriptions of making the various kinds of bread. He even made the bread for his recent wedding dinner!
So yeah, I'll take your cheesy apple peeler and give you my useless bread machine any time.
4. Whose the best chef in your home? Why?
I am the one and only chef--Dylan, my feline room-mate, is best at making messes. 
5. Cider, apple juice, or hard cider? Discuss.
Cider if it is fresh--like right now, this time of year. Hard cider the rest of the year. I like it as a lighter alternative to beer--and it also goes well with cheese and crackers (my favourite late-night snack). 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lectionary Liturgy September 28, 2014 (NL)

Call to Worship
One: May the Holy One answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. 
Many: May God send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion; may God remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.
One:  May God give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  Many: We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
One: May the Holy One grant all your requests. 
Many: Now I know that God saves God’s anointed; God answers the anointed one from holy heaven with the saving power of God’s right hand. 
One: Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Holy One our God. 
Many:  They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. 

Reconciliation/Assurance of Pardon
One: Reconciliation is truth-telling—our faults and foibles, our stumbles and our falls. Let us go to God in prayer.
Many: Holy One, we are not the people we want to be. We have failed you and ourselves, through carelessness, thoughtlessness, laziness, inattention. We have claimed to be your followers, and yet we have fallen short of the standards we have set for ourselves as your people. Forgive us our shortcomings, all our weakness and foolishness. Give us your grace and wisdom that we may be encouraged to rise and try again.
One: Gracious and loving God, you from whom no secrets may be withheld, you know when we have risen above those faults, when we have recovered from our stumbles to do better. My sisters and brothers, what can separate us from the love of God? Nothing at all. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven.

Many: In the name of Christ, we are forgiven! 

One: God is with you!
Many: And also with you!
One: God the Creator has made all things good!
Many: Thanks and praise to the Creator!
One: Holy One, from a great void your creative powers formed the cosmos, from the largest stars to the smallest creatures; and you declared all of them good. Yet we humans, placed just below you, forgot this and have put all creation under our heel, declaring ourselves to be in charge of creation. You sent your prophets to point out the errors of our ways, but we did not listen. Your beloved child, Jesus the Christ, came to us to show us a new way of life, of living, of love—and we still turned away. Speak to us again in these gifts of creation, of grain from the hills, and the fruit of the vine, that we may remember your love for all creation.
On the night before Jesus gave up his life for us, he gathered with his closest friends and shared one last meal with them. At that meal, he took the bread, blessed it after the manner of his people, broke it, and shared it with his friends, saying:
Many: This is my body, opened for you.
One: When the meal was over, Jesus took the cup, and blessed it after the manner of his people, and passed it to his friends, saying:
Many: This is my love, poured out freely for you and for all nations.
One: And when we eat this bread and drink from this cup
Many: We remember Jesus’ promise and the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again! Go and tell.
One: Spirit of the living God, pour out your grace and your presence on these gifts of grain and grape. Make them be for us whatever we need them to be, that we may be reminded of your gracious love for us, now and always. Amen.

God be in your head and in your understanding, God be in your eyes and in your looking; God be in your mouth and in your speaking, God be in your heart and in your thinking; God be in you end and at your departing. Amen. (Traditioal Celtic; attributed to St. Patrick)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lectionary Liturgy--Narrative Lectionary, September 21, 2014

Liturgy for September 21, 2014, Narrative Lectionary
Focus: Joseph

Call to Worship
One: God is my strength, my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
Many:  I call to God, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. 
One: The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.  In my distress I called to God; I cried to the Holy One for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
Many: God reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. God rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.  God brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. 
One: You, O God, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light
Many: The Holy One lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Saviour! Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O God; I will sing praises to your name.

(from Psalm 18)

One: My sisters and brothers, we know we have not done what we wanted to do, and we have done what we did not want to do—we have not lived into our best selves. When we release our mistakes and resolve to do better in the future, God is with us, to give us the grace to let go of wrongs and to embrace what is right. Let us pray.
Many: Holy One, we acknowledge our failure to be your face of love and hope in the world. We welcome your forgiving arms around us and the blessings of hope and courage to do what we know is right. Beginning now, we will strive to be the best person we can be, with your grace and encouragement in our hearts.
One: By the grace of God, you are forgiven!
Many: You are forgiven!

One: God is with you!
Many: And also with you!
One: God the Creator has made all things good!
Many: Thanks and praise to the Creator!
One: Holy One, from a great void your creative powers formed the cosmos, from the largest stars to the smallest creatures; and you declared all of them good. Yet we humans, placed just below you, forgot this and have put all creation under our heel, declaring ourselves to be in charge of creation. You sent your prophets to point out the errors of our ways, but we did not listen. Your beloved child, Jesus the Christ, came to us to show us a new way of life, of living, of love—and we still turned away. Speak to us again in these gifts of creation, of grain from the hills, and the fruit of the vine, that we may remember your love for all creation.
On the night before Jesus gave up his life for us, he gathered with his closest friends and shared one last meal with them. At that meal, he took the bread, blessed it after the manner of his people, broke it, and shared it with his friends, saying:
Many: This is my body, opened for you.
One: When the meal was over, Jesus took the cup, and blessed it after the manner of his people, and passed it to his friends, saying:
Many: This is my love, poured out freely for you and for all nations.
One: And when we eat this bread and drink from this cup
Many: We remember Jesus’ promise and the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again! Go and tell.
One: Spirit of the living God, pour out your grace and your presence on these gifts of grain and grape. Make them be for us whatever we need them to be, that we may be reminded of your gracious love for us, now and always. Amen.

One: Go now in peace, knowing you do not go alone.
Many: Even when there is no light and I feel lost, God is with me.
One: The blessing and presence of our living God, creator, redeemer and sustainer, go with you always.
Many: Amen.

Clarence Darrow--Beyond Scopes and Leopold & Loeb

Personalities fascinate me--people do. One way I try to understand history and places is through people--which is why I love good histor...