December 11, 2018
“May this Christmas be for each of us, a time of moving beyond reason to wonder; beyond grasping to letting go; beyond competition to cooperation. Let your body be the stable, let your heart be the manger, let your life be like the child’s with the blessing of God upon you as the Spirit goes before you and the Christ-child lives within you.”
These are some expressions of Christmas hope from some folks in New Zealand and from England – not any different than words which we would share with each other here in Calgary and beyond. They are words or terms which point to the contrasts of many of our lives and how each of us yearns to live as blessings to others and to all of creation. It is in this season of wonder, this season of family and friends, where I once again share with all of you my hopes and dreams amidst a sometimes uncertain future. May my thoughts be your thoughts; may my Christmas wishes to all of you be mirrored in your deepest aspirations and your own personal hopes and dreams for the world.
There are many words which are associated with Christmas and I believe that they need to be, once again, brought forward to echo this rebirthing. Words such as Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love come to mind and these have always been the words which the season of Advent focuses upon. What then is Hope? Hope is stepping out into the world and actively pursuing what is right and what is just. Then what is Peace? Peace is breaking down our boundaries, our walls, our barriers, our prejudices, and looking at others as ourselves. And what about that word Joy? This is a happy heart – a happy place. Joy is the knowing that rainbows follow a cloud-burst. And, what then is Love? Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if and when you stop opening the Christmas gifts and listen. These words begin to exemplify Christmas dreams and realities of our spirit-driven lives and our belief in manger miracles. They are but a few, but their significance can change the world – personally and collectively.
All of us here at your Lakeview United Church strive daily to make these words real, visceral, and all-encompassing in our actions and in our deeds for Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love are actions. This is what happened on Christmas morning when God broke into the world in a real and visual way. God made it genuine by the birthing of one just like us. God said, “Here’s my promise to you!”
So, in this season of newness and of mystery, in this time of active waiting and of hope-filled expectation, we offer our invitations to all of you and to come and experience something which can make a difference in your world. Maybe it’s the Christmas carols which you need…maybe it’s the quiet times of introspection…maybe it’s the fellowship or possibly a place where God meets you in your time or situation. Whatever your needs – we’re here. And whether or not you choose to be present, we still call upon each of you to think of us as we think of you. In this season of giving, please keep us in mind so that we can continue the wonderful work which has taken place here in the many, many years. Your gift would make our gifts even greater. We have been growing, expanding, rebuilding, and many, many thanks go out to all of you for your generosity, your prayers, your energies, and your many gifts of kindness and of benevolence. You are all truly loved!!
Following is a schedule of our Advent and Christmas season ‘happenings’. You will probably receive this message on or about Tuesday, December the 11th, so be aware that much has already happened and there is much, much more to come!! Please mark them on your calendar and join with us as we journey, together, to Bethlehem.
Tuesday, December 11 – 7:30 pm
Westwinds Choirs along with our Lakeview United Church Choir share in the gifts of song – the gifts of Christmas…this will be an evening of both listening to and in singing your favourite Christmas carols, of spending time with your neighbours, and of sharing in the true Spirit of the season…we ask that you bring food-stuffs for the Food Bank and if you would rather give monies or cheques, please put the monies or cheques in an envelope and make your cheques out to The Calgary Food Bank and pass them on to Rev. Jope Langejans who will forward them on for all of you…
Sunday, December 16th – 10:00 am
This will be our third Sunday of the Advent season and we will be celebrating the Sunday of Joy…this is also an opportunity for all of you to bring your foodstuffs for The Calgary Food Bank and to help those out who may be finding this season and their shelves to be very empty as they experience the exhaustion of trying to feed their selves and their families. Bring the kids this Sunday as we work towards putting our PowerPoint video together for Sunday, December the 23rd…
Friday, December 21st – 7:00 pm
When Christmas is painful, lonely, desperate, or down-right not fun, come on this quiet evening where you will be filled with the Spirit of love, the Spirit of connectedness, and the Spirit of knowing that you are never alone…some folks call this ‘Blue Christmas’ but truthfully, it is the longest night of the year and with the next morning, the ‘Blue’ will begin to change to warmer colours…
Sunday, December 23rd – 10:00 am
Our final Advent Sunday where the candle of Love will be lit…this is a Sunday of communion and also an opportunity to see what the children have put together for us to experience…a Sunday of your favourite Christmas carols and messages of Love…
Monday, December 24th – Christmas Eve – 5:00 pm
Let’s call this service a ‘family-friendly’ one with a ‘Pop-Up’ play where kids of all ages are invited to pick up one of the paper bags which contains angel dust, shepherd things, wise-men gifts, and then as the story unfolds, the stage will be set for all of the kids and adults to come together and make the scene come alive…an evening of story, carols, excitement and hey, did I say ‘Excitement’!!! (Oh…candle-lighting and glow sticks for all)
CHRISTMAS EVE – 7:00 pm
Our Traditional Christmas Eve service with caroling, partaking in the story, candle-lighting, sharing in the message of Christmas and being together as family and friends…one that everyone looks forward to every year…
Sunday, December 30th – 10:00 am
A short worship service followed by Eggs Benedict…the sign-up sheet is on the narthex table, so please sign-up for yourselves and the neighbours which you are going to invite…no charge, only a donation if you feel so inclined…Don Linton called this “Eggs St. Benedict hosted by Pope Jope”– NOPE!! Just come and be dined well…
Merry Christmas to all of you and blessings of 2019…..Rev. Jope Langejans
Lakeview United Church
Whoever You Are … Come Share Your Spiritual Journey With Us
3023 – 63 Ave. SW Calgary, Alberta T3E 5J6 403-242-5760
Hello to all as the month of October slides away. It’s been a busy time to be sure and finding some spare moments this week has offered me this opportunity of drafting to all of you this short missal or short message. Through all of the busyness hopefully most of us have had opportunities of peaceful times listening to what the Spirit is calling each of us to do. We know that faith is a verb or action but it also invites us to step back and to take note how precious each of us are and how valuable we are in the great scheme of things, including the life of your community of faith.
Summer is now a memory and we set our sights on shorter sunlight days, the longer nights, and getting back to what some would profess to be a sort of ‘normal’ routine. The planning is well under way for many exciting things to be happening in and around Lakeview United Church and following are just a few of what’s been planned:
· the launching of a new Sunday School Program
· the possibilities of before and after school care in the new year and the work which is needed to make this happen
· Our annual Remembrance Day service which this year falls upon a Sunday
· Advent Book Study Series entitled “Down to Earth: The Hopes and Fears of all the Years”
· Christmas celebrations of all sorts from festivities at Staywell, Garrison Woods, Garrison Green, Westwinds and LUC Choir extravaganza to church decorating, singing carols together, and what’s happening in our larger church in our city and province.
· the now New Year Sundays’ Eggs Benedict breakfast
· the dedication of the benches surrounding the Peace Pole
and much, much more as the months of November and December unfold. It’s going to be a wonderful time indeed and each of you are invited to come to one or to all of the planned celebrations. And with all of this ‘busyness’ we also herald our annual stewardship campaign or Pledgefest for 2019 and how truly important this is in keeping the Spirit alive in this community of faith as each of us are ‘called to be the church’. We all have a call as People of the Way to be generous in support of God’s mission as we share in spreading the Message to the world and we also work towards focusing on our vision statement or statement of purpose which reads as such:
“Spiritual renewal and growth in a caring, affirming community”
This coming year offers to all of us huge possibilities of being “Christ in the world” and it’s to this end where your Pledgefest Committee calls upon you to give generously. Each of you are called or invited to pledge bigheartedly so that this mission will truly happen and that our church will remain strong and vibrant for years to come and that growth in this caring and affirming community will take place. Our mission is not to sit stagnant but to be the hands and feet of Christ not only in this community but wherever God is calling us to share in the vision of peace and of hope.
We begin our campaign on Sunday, October the 28th and spread the information to you in three consecutive worship services. We will touch once again on the importance and significance of pledging and how our everyday costs will be covered through planned givings: wages, programs, maintenance, outreach, assessments, and so on. We all know that costs keep going up and the only way to balance the books is by pledging generously. We will share very important and life-giving information on the Mission and Service Fund of the United Church of Canada and how integral this is to our mission abroad and also at local levels. We will also touch upon the many and various outreach programs which we help to fund through our reaching out committee and their work on your behalf. Each of these Sundays will feature a short presentation given by folks just like you who truly believe in generous givings of their time, their talents, and their pledging promises.
We can only do this with your faithful givings and your commitment to this church and faith community and to the God who breathes you. Whoever you are and wherever your faith journey may be, you can be assured that there is a place for you.
We will need your financial support, your prayers and blessings, your time and your talents, your dreams and your visions into the future, as we carry out your mission in the name of the Holy One and your life in this community. So we invite you once again as I have stressed for many years:
To pray about your givings…your financial givings as well as time and talents.
To pledge, to set a goal which is attainable and which helps support your vision of
Lakeview United Church and its mission locally and abroad.
To participate in the mission and the ministry of your church.
So hopefully what we do together will be truly inspiring and we ask you to think deeply of what you can contribute to this Pledgefest and to make your commitment to your church.
May the Spirit of the Holy One direct you and embrace you in your decision-making… and…thank-you. A simple word which comes from deep inside my heart.
Rev. Jope Langejans
September 21, 2018:
Greetings to all and welcome to a new endeavor on how to communicate more clearly to more people. I had sat down a week or so ago and compiled an email list from all of the names on our church membership list and thought that this would be an ideal way to keep connected with what was going on at Lakeview United Church. If you would like me not to send you information then please let me know and I'll delete you from the email list. I will try and send out information every two weeks so that you are 'up to speed' in what's going on and what may seem important for you to know or to join in with. I will also share in a short prayer for you and readings which you will hear from the pulpit in the weeks to follow. So with this in mind, here are some things which are happening in the near future:
§ Sunday, September 23rd -- We are delighted to be bringing Tony Snow to our service to share in his message of his Nakoda/Sioux ancestry and to share in his message concerning Truth and Reconciliation...as we worship in a circle, expect some drumming, some native song, and plain-old great worship...It's our third Sunday of our theme of 'Creation Time' so hopefully, we'll see you here at 10 am...
§ Funeral service for Dave McRae will be held on Thursday, September 27 at 2:00 pm...Fish Creek McInnis & Holloway...
§ Sunday, September 30 -- Our fourth Sunday of 'Creation Time' and the focus will be on Holy Ground and what that means in our lives.
§ Sunday, October 7 -- Thanksgiving Sunday and we'll be sharing in our abundance....this is also World Communion Sunday so come and share in table...
There will be a lot more coming your way of announcements so stay tuned as things develop...
Readings for this Sunday: Psalm 148, Isaiah 55: 12 -- 56: 2, 1 Corinthians 13...
Readings for October 7th -- Job 12: 7-10, Hosea 2: 18, and Psalm 96: 11-13
And a prayer for you to share...Diane Robinson from St. James United Church in Regina, Saskatchewan offers a new generational Lord's Prayer:
Creation is holy. Life is mystery. The kin-dom is the world we live; the earth and the heavens. May we this day have bread to eat. May we plant seeds of grace. May we forgive those who grieve us dearly. May we be spared life's trials. May evil be vanquished. With our lives, may we strive to be love and be light. Now and forever...Amen
BEING OPEN TO NEW BEGINNINGS @ LAKEVIEW UNITED CHURCH
Reverend Jope Langejans
Greetings to everyone from my desk to your home. May this seasonal letter find you somewhat rested after the summer months and now eager to tackle the months ahead with all of their different turns and diverse directions. I would call this epistle “Faith Talk” for lack of something else to call it and hopefully, it becomes informative and possibly moves you to internalize parts of it. My intent over the many years to come is not to question your theology or your spirituality but to find the common denominator which pulses through all of us. Through this recognition may we all understand that we are beloved children of God and may the road which we journey together be one of learning, one of caring, and one of sharing of that which is universal – love. Our families, communities, and the world need desperately to embrace this universal love and may we all strive for this in our lives.
My life-partner Karen and I have resided for the last 14 years in rural Alberta and although we may be ‘city-bred’, we have truly come to appreciate both rural and city life (albeit, we still live outside of Calgary’s city limits). God is found on the sidewalks and in the alleys of the urban jungle as readily as the solitude and the majesty of our countryside. No matter where we are, we are connected, for we breathe the same air. We share the same sun. We each have our own dreams and aspirations. It is through connections with each other and all which exists where this presence is felt and it is through ‘the disconnect’ where we need to step back and reassess our reasons for existence. We are all called to be listeners, teachers and learners, and to pursue the Holy Spaces and the Sacred Ground together.
My life has not always been involved in the ministry but in looking back at the 30 or so years of working in the food and beverage sales and distribution sector, I have come to realize that relationships are key to the success of all endeavours. Working together, sharing wants and needs, and following through with promises and expectations becomes so central in building community and moving forward. So also is it with our connection to God. When He/She becomes central in our lives, we truly become much more whole and grounded in and with each other. We become open to new beginnings. We open ourselves to relationships.
Our children and youth have now gone back to school (their new beginnings) and we, as adults, have our new beginnings also and hopefully ‘church’ becomes part of it. The holidays are generally behind us (if we were fortunate enough to receive them) and we prepare ourselves for some sort of new routine. For some of us, canning and preserving is taking place; for others, we are preparing our homes and yards for the colder weather (or possibly trimming trees); choir practices begin, yoga classes, quilting, book clubs, study groups of all sorts, and the list sometimes seems endless. Some may seem burdensome and some may be wonderful new experiences. Let us always be mindful that God goes this road with us. God is our new beginning.
So, I invite each and every one of you in this season of new beginnings to seek the Holy One in your own intimate way. Spend a few moments each day reflecting and giving thanks for the many wonders in your life; light a candle in memory of a loved one; make a long-distance call to a friend far way or a special text; invite a neighbour for a meal; share openly and give with no expectations of receiving; and ultimately, be open to all of the new beginnings. May the peace which passes all understanding live in you and be your guiding light this season and throughout your world…be loved…be blessed…believe…SHALOM.
Following is a somewhat abbreviated list of what is happening and what is going to happen in the months to come at your Lakeview United Church. May you incorporate some or all of the events into your ‘new beginnings’:
Sunday Worship Services – They begin at 10:00 am every Sunday morning with lively music, energy abounding, and Spirit moving themes filled with the questions of the day. Sunday School and Youth Church runs alongside this and there’s always coffee, tea, and goodies following worship as relationships continue to be built.
Cross Connections Services – These are midweek services which begin at 11:30 am on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Who says that worship has to be only on a Sunday! Come and experience ‘church’ in a whole new way! Potluck lunch follows.
Sacred Cinema – Oct. 19 (Philomena); Nov. 16 (Saving Mr. Banks)
Come for coffee and dessert at 6:30 pm and the movie and discussions begin at 7 pm. The evening is free of charge but donations are welcome.
Healing Touch Ministry – Open to everyone and sessions are held on Monday evening in the church basement (6:30 – 9:30)…for more information, contact the church office at 403-242-5760 and speak with our office administrator, Jacqueline Roach.
Cubs, Beavers, Scouts, and Ventures – Meet regularly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays…once again, contact the church office for information.
Bible Study Group – Meets every Wednesday from 10 – 11:30 in the Upper Hall. All are welcome to come and explore the Biblical Text as it speaks to you in your world.
Concert Series – A new endeavour at Lakeview United Church and the first concert will be The Travelling Mabels; a truly energetic trio of fun-loving, folk/country/alt musicians who will charm your spirits. They’ve worked with Ian Tyson, Tom Jackson, Jason McCoy and countless others over their many years and have graced many a stage. Check them out on thetravellingmabels.com and check out ‘reviews’. Tickets are $20 each and can be bought from the church office. Concert begins at 7:30 pm on October 25, 2014.
We are also bringing The Lizzy Hoyt Trio to our concert venue on November 15th. Tickets should be available soon but in the meantime, check out her website which is lizzyhoyt.com Lizzy has just released a new CD and October 1st is its release so keep your ears open for “New Lady on the Prairie”. Tickets will be once again, $20.00.
Advent Study Group – This special ‘book study’ begins on November the 10thand continues for 6 weeks. Monday evening from 7 – 9 and more information to follow.
Special Services – Communion Sundays (first Sunday of every month).
World Food Sunday (October 19th…donations for the Food bank)
Peace Sunday (October 26th)
Remembrance Sunday (November 9th with our cubs, scouts, etc.)
Special Lunches following Worship – October 26 (Grilled Sandwiches)
November 16 (Pot Luck Sunday)
These are some of the highlights and ‘happenings’ at your Lakeview United Church and there are many, many more events ongoing so please take time to check out the website at www.lakeviewunitedchurch.com or visit us on Facebook at Lakeview United Church.
Peace and Blessings
Message From Rev. Jope Langejans, Dec. 2013
As we enter into the final week of Christmas, I thought that as we will be worshiping together in the new year, it might be an interesting introduction to all of you to receive a short Christmas message... may you enjoy and may the blessings of the child of a new dawning surround you and your families... Rev. Jope Langejans
“And [Mary] brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (KJV)
Over the many years, if you’ve made your annual pilgrimage to the church of your choice on Christmas Eve and sat quietly listening to the Christmas story, possibly with your family around you and neighbours of all sorts, this line would have been shared from the Gospel of Luke. It may seem insignificant at first, but as it is with so many of the other biblical passages, one needs to ‘dig deeper’ into context and into circumstance and try to put the meaning into today’s world. Bethlehem and all other Hebraic towns and villages at this time were in the process of registration or what we would call enumeration or a recording of where you live and where you might have been born, etc. The difference here was that the folks needed to register themselves physically in the place in which they were born – a chaotic process to be sure! And every hotel and motel and B&B was filled to the rafters. And through all of this chaos or turmoil a child is born - in a stable of all places! This may seem irrelevant at first but down the long and winding road, this birthing will change the world. So then, how does this passage speak to us today in its context and its perspective?
I believe that the ending of the passage is the central part, the part which begs the question of what we are to do in the light of humanity serving humanity – “….because there was no room for them in the inn.”…Each of us is called, no urged, to ‘make room’. In the Christmas story the innkeeper felt it his responsibility to at least offer some sort of compromise for the filled rooms to offer a place of rest for an expecting couple who had no other place to turn. In making room in today’s world I sense that it means opening ourselves to possibilities of wonder, opening ourselves to the mystery and the enchantment of new birth – new life. Making room is looking at situations from a different point of view and ultimately having as a goal the enrichment and the peaceful and loving actions of living in community together and moving in directions of promise. Making room is to risk. Making room is to destroy the old adage of ‘we’ve always done it that way!’ Making room believes that there are countless answers to any question and that in the collective of answers, we build listening and loving relationships that stand the test of time. Making room is a gift from God which we need to pay attention to – personally and communally.
This Advent and Christmas season I urge each of you to ‘make room’; not only at the places at your feasting table or your family gatherings but possibly something more personal or important, your heart. Make room in this for others, for your environment, for your world, for your God. Make room so that others will know that they are part of the whole and seen as precious and truly loved. May this season of Advent be one of wonder for each of you and may you find the peace of the Holy One in your families and in your self. Seek the church of your choice and boldly sing the Christmas carols and marvel in the gift which has been given to us; for every person and every family deserves a ‘stable’ experience. There was room then – we’ve made room for you today - so come and claim a piece of your heaven, come and have the Christmas angel share in its wonder.
The Children and Youth of Lakeview United Church
Cordially Invite You to Join Them on a Special Lenten Journey to Easter
eco-footsteps to the Cross
Each Sunday in Lent, we will work with Scripture, Chancel Dramas, Spiritual Practices, Visual Symbols, Music & Activities to develop weekly themes on healing our relationship with creation. Teachers and Worship Leaders have worked together to support this passion of our children and young people. Join hands and journey together!
Lent I: February 26, 10am From Denial to Affirmation
with Holy Communion
Lent II: March 4, 10am From Convenience to Commitment
Lent III: March 11, 10am From Greed to Withholding Nothing
Lent IV: March 18, 10am From Guilt to Forgiveness
Lent V: March 25, 10am From Despair to Hope
Holy Week Begins
Palm Sunday: April 1, 10am From Fear to Faith
with a Special Musical Service for the day, Holy Communion,
and Procession with Palms.
Maundy Thursday April 5, 6pm Simple Supper (soup, roll & water)
& The Last Supper
Good Friday April 6, 10am Readings, Music & Prayers for the day,
& the stripping of the chancel
Easter April 8, 10am The Renewal of All Creation!
Alleluias Fly! Music! Baptism!
& the Church is Dressed for Easter!
Dear friends in faith,
Last evening, after a rich Lent I Sunday in worship with our community of faith and a good Faith Formation Committee meeting following fellowship time after the service, I was reminded of how “out of sync” we Christians are with North America’s priorities. It was Oscar night, or as Oscar Host Billy Crystal described it “watching millionaires give each other gold statues”. Well I guess that’s one way to begin a Lenten journey! In fact, I don’t think Lent even came up once in conversations on the Red Carpet. (Don’t they know the season colour is “purple?)
Really, though, it is too easy to set our lives beside lives lived in fame and luxury, and take comfort in ourselves living simple lives of simple faith for Lent. It is just too easy. Our lives are not to be set aside just anyone else’s life as a measure of holiness or discipleship or Lenten commitment. Our lives are meant to be set alongside the life of the One we follow---Jesus. This year, our youth and children are leading us on that journey. Will you join them? Come as you are. Dress as you will. Leave with a blessing, not a statue.
with you in ministry,
Diane Strickland, Minister.
Dear friends in faith,
On the first Sunday of Advent Lakeview United Church was well and beautifully dressed for the season, thanks to the dedication of our wonderful volunteers. After worship, a group was talking about their plans to decorate their homes. Some were going to start that day and make it an Advent celebration. Others were bursting to share their traditions of decorating inside and outside, and when the Christmas tree usually went up in their house. A few proudly told stories of special items—an angel that always topped the tree, a snowman that greeted visitors just inside the front door, a Christmas runner that topped the dining room table.
Did I mention that all the people talking with anticipation and delight were adults?
Yes, this is the season when adults let their guard down just a little, to play with the season and its toys. We relax into a home décor that we create from our homemade children’s tree ornaments, well worn centerpieces for the table that often sit slightly askew after several decades of use, liberal amounts of sparkle and sequins and glitter, and a colour scheme (if we can call it that) that may or may not match the rest of our home. But we like it that way. We like it just fine! Because attached to all these things are memories from our lives that are precious—joyous, sad, funny, comforting—they are all precious memories.
That same Sunday after church, our children were rushing from their Sunday program to rehearse their upcoming pageant that tells the Christmas story in a special way. They hurriedly unloaded their arms laden with things from Sunday school. I saw the United Church Advent Calendars that our congregation had purchased to give them. And then I saw something else—the beginnings of a Christmas crèche. It was easy to imagine how that might become another treasured item to unpack each year, and another way the story at the heart of Christmas would be with them.
Good people, we are in a deep partnership with parents and grandparents to nurture children with the Christmas story. And no one else is doing it. Only congregations. This is holy work in the seasons of Advent and Christmas. We are passing on this story every way we can imagine, so that when these young lives mature, they will know what is the heart of Christmas. Then, each year, they will unpack their lights, snowmen, and trees with the same feelings that we have. But the most important things they will unpack will be those that tell the real story of Christmas—the most precious memory in which we all have a share. Thanks be to God for the privilege of this ministry with children and their families.
A blessed Advent and Christmas for you and those you love.
Rev. Diane J. Strickland.
Please scroll down for seasonal service times and dates.
And a big thank you from the Board for donations received this year for the Roof-Us Fund!
Advent, Christmas and Epiphany at Lakeview United Church
Sunday, December 4, 2011 10am ADVENT II
Holy Baptism, The Spiritual Practice of Christmas, White Gift Sunday
After worship, LUC Ladies Shortbread Sale
Sunday, December 11, 2011 10am ADVENT III
Bethlehem Road, A Christmas Musical Drama presented by Children, Youth, and the Young at Heart, led by Joan Greenfield
Sunday, December 18, 2011 10am ADVENT IV
I Hear the Prophet Callin’, A Seasonal Cantata offered by Lakeview United Church Choir, with instrumental ensemble.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 7pm The Longest Night
A gentle service of music, lessons, and Light for those who may need to steady their spirits at this season of the year.
Saturday, December 24, 2011 Christmas Eve
5pm A Family Service, Designed with children in mind
7pm Candlelit Service of Lessons and Carols, Holy Communion, Choir
Sunday, December 25, 2011 10am CHRISTMAS!
We celebrate the story together.
Sunday, January 1, 2011 10am NEW YEARS DAY!
The Seasons of our Lives Rev. Gerry Scharff, Guest Preacher
Sunday, January 8th, 2011 10am First Sunday after Epiphany
The Visit of the Magi Rev. Gerry Scharff, Guest Preacher
The Rhythm of Summer
I remember lying on the grass in front of the band shell at Ontario Place under a summer night sky, listening to Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson relax every bone in my body at the same time as he energized every corner of my spirit. I was so happy to be alive and so grateful for the memory I knew I was making.
Maybe because we Canadians know just how valuable summer is, most of us have memories like that—a hot sticky day that ends in the cool lake, a quiet canoe moment floating alongside a loon, a breezy ride in a convertible, a bite of ripe peach that squirts juice down your chin, a sunset seat on the end of a dock—those magical summer seconds when time holds still and we “feel” our own presence in the world with more joy than usual.
Summer creates a space for most of us to step back a little from the pace and de- mands that crowd the rest of the year. Summer begs us to remember that creation is good, that we are good, and that hope is an awfully good traveler—because it remains resilient come what may.
As I write those words I know that some may not be so sure about hope as I am. Perhaps it’s the season of my own life that gives me such bravado, but I’m pretty sure that when we release hope from our expectations, and let them be different, hope comes with an unfailing truth. And that’s what I think brushed up against me at Ontario Place many years ago, but also many years since in different ways. Hope says “hello” every time I drive with the mountains as good company. Hope nudges my elbow when a crusty soul cracks open with a laugh. Hope passes over with the hawk that dances with the air currents. Hope tucks me in at night when I read my evening prayer from the book Celtic Benediction that my soul sister Gerry Scharff gave me a few years ago.
This summer, how will hope come to you? And how will it lead you forward for all that lies ahead at work, at home, at school, and yes, at Lakeview United Church? Look for it. Wait for it. Greet it with a warm welcome. After all, it’s summer.
with you in ministry, Diane.
The Cradle of Lent
Dear friends in faith,
Lent is well-launched with Communion and a great sermon by Vicki McPhee. Through Vicki, God invited us to embrace this season before Easter as a waiting time in which grace has “elbow room” to accomplish the things we weren’t even thinking about.
But even before the first Sunday in Lent, something special had already happened. As in years past, some of us went over to St. Laurence Anglican Church for their Ash Wednesday service and Holy Communion. It’s always special to me because I get to be present in the congregation singing and praying beside my own parishioners, walking with them to the rail for the imposition of ashes, and then a second time for the elements of bread and wine. The Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee is a gracious presence who makes us feel so welcome. Her words are deep and wise. Her faith—obvious. Each year I receive something special from this ministry, but this year there was a new clarity.
As I heard the familiar words “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” I felt my vulnerability—not just to sin—but to so many things. I wanted to cradle my mortality—hold it carefully so that I could really know it. And if I lived each day of Lent cradling my mortality, what would I discover?
So far, every single day has felt more significant. I live a whole day, lungs breathing, heart beating. Then I close my eyes, fall asleep and with no effort I keep going through night—lungs breathing, heart beating. It’s a gift every single day and night, because during the day I spend time with people living on the edge of their mortality, in the drama of facing real limits, succumbing to them and occasionally surpassing them. Family, caregivers, medical personnel and I try to cradle their mortality with reverence, skill, commitment and love.
But there was more to come. The catastrophic devastation of earthquake and tsunami in Japan seemed to mock the very idea of cradling anyone’s mortality. But even in the face of such unimaginable loss, within hours there were pictures on the news of Japanese adults passing babies and children from arm to arm, getting them to safety—cradling their youngest ones’ mortality. Within days more pictures of people from around the world getting off airplanes with supplies, medical teams, others leading recovery teams of specially trained dogs—everyone ready to cradle the mortality of a whole nation, one way or another.
For me, Lent has become a cradle in which my mortality rests just long enough for me to grasp the miracle of its persistence and the love that is required to respect it. Will I ever be careless with it again? Perhaps. But when Lent is done and death has done its worst, I will hear again in the Gospel that found me years ago—the Holy miracle of God’s persistence and the Holy love that makes Life stronger than death. I will “Remember that I am dust, and to dust I shall return”. But I will also remember that I am a child of God, and loved with a love that is stronger than death.
And into that cradle of Lent, let us lean back into grace of God together.
With you in ministry,
The Undivided Life
At Christmas, we celebrated the birth of Jesus, in whom we see full humanity and full divinity revealed and living in unity. Jesus shows us what it looks like to live an undivided life.
In these weeks since Christmas, we are exploring what it means for us to live an undivided life—a life in which all that is human and all that is holy work together in harmony. What kind of spirituality will enable us to live that way? What are the spiritual practices with which we create undivided and abundant lives of meaning, joy and growth? How can we avoid becoming in conflict with ourselves? What does it really mean to follow Jesus, and live an undivided life?
These are not new questions: they are ancient and enduring questions that belong to every generation. How is your generation answering them? How are you answering them?
With open hearts, souls and minds, we come together at Lakeview United Church to challenge ourselves and each other to the path of the undivided life. And in Christian worship, service, study and relationships all ages may come to experience God’s life-changing love.
With you in ministry,
Rev. Diane Strickland
Together at the stable door, together under one roof — A Special Christmas offering
For some years now, Lakeview United Church has been living with a leaky roof that has lived well past its lifespan. We have “worked the pots” and “patched the spots” in every effort to manage one year more. We are so grateful to everyone who has contributed to getting us through to this point. But now, we have to deal with the roof.
The Board of Lakeview United Church, after reviewing a roof inspection replacement report established a capital fund-raising campaign of $150,000. Don Rigby announced this campaign on the last Sunday of Pledgefest and introduced our mascot, “Roof-Us”, the dog who only has one message—Roof! Roof! This year, we have designated the Christmas Offering Envelope to this purpose. It would be great to end this year with a good start on this large and necessary project.
Our goal is to have the roof replaced and paid for by our 50th Anniversary in 2012. We hope everyone will be inspired to help keep a roof over our heads. Tax receipts are issued. Please find a special Christmas Offering Envelope for this purpose enclosed in this mailing.
Thank you and may God bless us, everyone!
Advent and Christmas 2010
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We are now moving in sacred time. Advent has us in its beam of blue light; holding us, preparing us, awakening us to a story of unlikely wonder and unreasonable purpose.
Christmas is coming, and we will have yet another opportunity to follow the journey of an ancient hope into the lives of a poor young woman of great faith and the man she will marry. We will hear again of their struggle to trust God and each other, the arduous trip to Bethlehem to fulfill a bureaucratic requirement that transforms into the fulfillment of God’s promise to be with us. We will stand near the stable under a night sky stuffed with stars and our spirits will see one special star over all of us. And then we will decide. Will the humility of God’s love be enough to bend us toward it—a little closer, for a little longer?
Every shiny decoration, every great Christmas chorus, every favorite carol, every string of lights, every lavish gift, every laden table and every great place of worship, must lay down its greatness at the stable door, and bend to the God who is bending toward all creation. Let us be a part of that company this Christmas. And let us take the journey together. See you at the stable, on Christmas Eve.
Blessings to you and all those you love, from your minister,
Carrying the best of summer forward into fall
Summer isn’t just about the weather. It’s about relaxing into each day with a different rhythm, an easier pace, a more humane approach to work and play—things that seem to slip away from us with the onset of fall.
I wonder how much of that ―slipping away― happens because we just let go.
Fall is certainly full of things to do. We are preparing for school, for ministry programs, for extra- curricular activities, for club start-ups and renewed focus at work, and more. So, instead of looking at the wonderful blue sky, the changing garden, the colour of the mountains, and the people around us to cherish, we slowly begin to deny ourselves those gifts. Before you know it, we have embraced a rhythm of living that has nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with an assumption that these simple graces must now be surrendered in order to ― get things done.
I’m all for getting things done. But in ministry that is often a long journey around the bush and back again, in and out of meetings, canvassing wide for input, waiting to rise to the top of someone’s pile, getting permission, and researching options available. Sure, it can drive us all a little crazy, but if we think about it, that leaves some room for simple graces. We can look around while we’re in the queue, talk to the person beside us that we really don’t know all that well, speak with our Maker about another matter entirely, jot down an idea for Christmas that passes through our mind, enjoy the little girl dancing to the Sunday music, give thanks for that great old soul whose presence each week is a gift we know can’t last forever, notice the stress in the eyes of friend and reach out with care, savour the fellowship of old friends, learn something new where we least expected it, be someone friendly to a new person at church.
Being a part of the ministry we share at LUC can help us hold on to the very thing we think we have to lose when summer ends. Come and be a part of the worship, service, study and relationship opportunities prepared just for you.
Oh, and when you see me fretting about what needs to get done ― right now — remind me about the simple gifts of summer we can take with us into the next season.
With you in ministry,
Minister’s Message By Reverend Diane Strickland
and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us............. Hebrews 12:1
Phewwww! June! In September we hit the ground hard, running a ministry relay that only slowed between baton passes. I had a backlog of pastoral connections to renew. Our JNAC was late off the starting blocks but finished with a best-ever time. The Faith Formation committee, under the passionate leadership of Brenda Ball ran the week to week race of creating a Sunday ministry for unpredictable numbers. We were close to hitting the wall in winter, but we made it to Easter and Easter did not fail us. An Easter second wind arrived when Vicki McPhee found us!
So here we are in June with an extraordinary group of junior high age participants who are bonding with Vicki, our new 10-12 hour a week contract staff person. Lay person Barb Spence is offering herself to Sunday children’s ministry so that Vicki can use her hours to work on summer camp and reconnect with former participants and young families at LUC, as well as develop the junior high group on Sunday while Barb ministers with younger children.
It’s been a real race since September—and I am grateful for the patience and flexibility of our congregation as we worked through challenges with new approaches, while keeping some traditions intact. I am grateful to the LUC ministry and service groups who took their turn running the baton and keeping us on track. I am grateful for Brenda’s leadership and everyone who gave themselves to our Sunday ministry with children and young people. I am grateful for Vicki who arrived when our Faith Formation Committee was a little frayed around the edges. I am grateful to the Board for their support. I am grateful to Jesus whose ministry we have. We made it, folks. And yes, while I’m grateful for many gifts of unexpected grace—I’m also grateful it’s June!
Have a wonderful, safe, and renewing summer. Join me in taking time to rest in God who is faithful and whose love is new every morning. Here at LUC, don’t forget we have a summer day camp running July 19-23. My summer preaching cycle will focus on stories of Elijah, and I will be using the annotated reading/reflecting style that many have requested. We are also planning great programs for the next September to June ministry cycle under the theme Shine Spirit, Shine: Growing our Spirituality Together.
Is the race over? Not by a long shot. I believe we came through the fire this year because we will be “on fire” in our ministry ahead. We are building a bigger and stronger relay team, because we are not finished running the race that is set before us. So break in your new running shoes this summer. And be prepared to wear them this fall. With God and each other, life-changing ministry happens!
with much affection,
On the edge of Holy Week 2010
Dear soul friends,
“On the edge of Holy Week”
It’s hard to know how to date a pastoral message that is written well before the mailing date. But as I thought about it, I began to believe “on the edge of Holy Week was more accurate than anything else I might choose.
Holy Week is the heart of our church year. Each event provides a snapshot of everything that can go wrong and everything that can go right in our lives with God. We move through the ecstatic glory of Palm Sunday’s entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, to Judas’ betrayal of glory around the Lord’s Supper and the gracious glory of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, to the injustice toward glory in a fickle public and a frightened politician, to the terrible and profound glory of Jesus’ faithfulness on the cross, to the unexplained and quiet glory of Easter resurrection, and finally to the shared glory of this news among Jesus’ followers and their first, uncertain treasuring of this glory in their lives.
For those who live closely with the stories and themes that move us through the church year, Holy Week is like a dose of discipleship concentrate. It’s all there. Everything that can happen to individuals, to spiritual fellowships, to communities, and their leaders, happens in Holy Week. And at LUC we step into each story with reverence and the expectation that we will encounter God there in a powerful way. Holy week grounds us in the life-changing power of Jesus’ message to trust God, honour the truth we know, and live out the meaning of our faith, no matter what the cost, for God’s love is more powerful than anything else that is or will ever be.
On the edge of Holy Week. In a hundred ways life is always bringing us to the edge of Holy Week, when we must choose who we are and whose we are, for better or worse. This year, gather with LUC for life-changing worship on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We’re on the edge of Holy Week. And, as they say, “if we’re not on the edge, we’re taking up too much room."
With you in ministry,
Rev. Diane Strickland
Dear Lakeview United Church friends and family,
Could anyone have anticipated all the events of the last year and their effect on our world, our country, our province or our own congregation? With so many highs and lows, I have been grateful for the constant rhythm of the church calendar moving us through time, offering us sacred stories and spiritual practices with which to find balance, regain perspective, and renew commitments to life.
The Lenten journey is very much about those same things. It's a journey meant to peel back the layers of habit and hurt that hide our humanity and its full beauty. It is not a journey to shame us or engender guilt, but one that asks us to move closer to the God who moved closer to us in the humanity of the One called Jesus.
This year we will enter Holy Week with much on our minds, in our hearts and with our spirits. We are still letting go of Kelley and her ministry among us, looking for the new relationship with her that will come as she discerns her path. We are also facing the work of the Joint Needs Assessment Committee (JNAC) to examine our ministry together and our full staffing requirements. We canÕt afford to lose momentum in our ministry with young families and young people, so lay leadership and perhaps interim staffing is still needed. You are also heading toward my sabbatical period, which means our shared ministry has even greater need for your presence, your participation and your support. There is work to do for this ministry to find its way and know its call. I am asking all of you to enter Holy Week with an openness to GodÕs leading, and to greet the resurrection news with a commitment to step up and take your turn in our common work.
The Lenten journey and Holy Week has a way of "sorting us out". Its drama of loyalty and betrayals, of grief and hope, of courage and faithfulness, carries us all along--first in one role and then another, until we stand dazed and wondering about an empty tomb and what it can mean for us. This year I invite you to live as closely to this story as you can. Expect that it will re-order your priorities, set out new commitments, confirm your strengths and understand your weaknesses. The tomb is meant to be empty, but there is a place for you in our ministry that only you can fill. Discover the meaning of Easter here in your own congregation. If you can join a committee--join it. If you can support a ministry--support it. If you can write a cheque--write it. If you can visit someone--visit them. If you can take a turn--take it. If you can pray a prayer--pray it. If you can get to church--be there. Trust that you can make a difference. Encourage each other by standing side by side in different roles and different jobs. As we say at baptisms--remember who you are and whose you are, for it is never God who forgets.
It is a comfort to know that our tools for deeper discipleship are the same sacred stories and spiritual practices that have stood the test of time, and despite their age, they are ever new. They will be exactly that for Lakeview United Church this year--the bearers of an ancient truth, and the midwives of new life.
Let us come together as God's people, drawing from the witness of the past, taking up the responsibility of now, and working toward the promise of tomorrow. It is our common work, our common trust, our common privilege.
Rev. Diane J. Strickland,