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.