Visit to First Baptist with the children's choir

This Sunday, we attended First Baptist Church with the Children's Choir, who did a wonderful job singing with the children's choir from that church.  It was heartening, on a gorgeous spring morning, to hear and see the great energy of the two groups of children working, singing, and then playing, together.  The subject of the sermon there today was "The Good Shepherd", and it was a good reminder, for me, of that Psalm.  I remember well having learned it in Sunday School in grade six, which is about the age of my kids now, and this inspired me to order it as wall art.  It has been one of most significant parts of the bible to me on my faith journey. I have often said it softly to myself in times of trial, like long journeys on dark highways, or bumpy flights in heavy air.  Fun fact: on reading The Survivors Club, a book about how to live through worst-case scenarios, I learned that this Psalm, and a personal faith in accompaniment by a higher power who is acting as a "good shepherd", has a statistically proven benefit to those who hold the belief.  Regardless of whether or not it is true (and we have to take a leap of faith to share in the belief), the belief itself is protective. It gives people confidence and strengthens their resolve, cultivating resilience where, as is often the case, some determinants of survival depend upon individual choice.  So, it is an important Psalm.  I reproduce it here as a gesture to any reader that I hope it helps them. A blessing.

Rebecca B.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

"Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you..."

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I found myself getting stuck today between Karen's description of Jeremiah's guidance to those in exile - to "seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile... for in its welfare you will find your welfare" - and the comparison with the early settlers of Ottawa coming together in the midst of much hardship to start our city. Where do Indigenous people fit into this narrative?

I'm not sure that early European settlement in what we now know as North America is the best example of Jeremiah's message to those rebuilding lives in new places. I don't deny that it must have been hard for Europeans to leave everything they had known, to travel across the Atlantic, to make a new home in present-day Ottawa. But did they "seek the welfare of the city" where they had been sent? They might have thought so - they came together and built a new place... but did they pray for those who were already here? Or did they seek their own welfare at the expense of Indigenous peoples? We are now having to backtrack, to apologize, to work for reconciliation.

I like the image of heaven as a city, of all peoples coming together and of God dwelling with us. And we all need to work together to live in communion - those of us who have been here for generations and those of us who are more recent arrivals. I pray that we would first seek the welfare of others and, in so doing, find our own.

"I've been considering the phrase "all my relations" for some time now. It's hugely important. It's our saving grace in the end. It points to the truth that we are all related, that we are all connected, that we all belong to each other. The most important word is "all". Not just those who look like me, sing like me, dance like me, speak like me, pray like me or behave like me. ALL my relations. That means every person, as every rock, mineral, blade of grass, and creature. We live because everything else does. If we were to choose collectively to live that teaching, the energy of our change of consciousness would heal each of us - and would heal the planet." Richard Wagamese, Embers

Laura S.

Remembering… Our hearts and prayers are with the Humboldt Broncos, their families and friends

A prayer from our Moderator , Reverend Peter Bush
 

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I am waking up to the tragic news out of Saskatchewan about the accident that took the lives of 14 people on the Humboldt Broncos (Junior Hockey team) bus and injured 14 others. So this is raw and quick.

God your Son wept over the death of his friend, Lazarus, we weep over the Humboldt Broncos team members and coaching staff who died in the bus accident yesterday. 
We lift up before you family and friends, the community of Humboldt, the other teams in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, be the God who sees and hears their cries of sorrow and loss. We lift up before you first responders, doctors, nurses, others who were at the scene or are providing care to the survivors, be the God who guides hands and calms minds in the midst of crisis. We pray for those who were injured that they would be healed of their injuries both physical and psychological, be the God of healing and hope. God, we do not have words to adequately express the ache in our hearts.
These things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reverend Peter Bush                                                                                                                  Sunday, April 8th

 

Our friendship with Jesus

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A full and blessed service it was this morning! We gave thanks to God for the beautiful music that the handbell choir has provided to us over this past year, and we celebrated God’s love as we welcomed the communicants.

In a novel format for the sermon, we had Huda and Karen talk about Jesus as our friend and the peace that can embrace us as we let him in. It can be scary to be so vulnerable. It can also be a challenge when things happen in life that make us question our friendship with Jesus. As I sit back and reflect on this following the passing of a loved one this weekend, I know that regardless of all the questions and sense of loss, it is Jesus’ friendship and love that provides the most comfort and solace.

Jesus died and has risen to continue to walk with us on this journey — regardless of whether it is in life’s joys or sorrows — His love and friendship are never-ending.

Colleen G.

 

Easter Traditions and Trade

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As Christians we are blessed to celebrate the life and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Much of who we are and what we believe is rooted in the incredible works and lessons of the Master.  He taught us so much in life and who would have believed that his greatest lesson would be from his death and resurrection. His love was so great for us and His Father's love so great that he was allowed to die to cleanse our sins. His resurrection kept the promise of life everlasting for all of us.  This is a very important time for all Christians. At time of reflection, a time of loss, a time of redemption, a time of renewed joy and a time of unbreakable love.

For this special time in our year we give blessing and thanks. It is difficult therefore for us to see what we view as commercialization of this precious time.  Turns out what we see may not have its origin in the commercial nor be as current as we may believe.  Now the Bible certainly did not contain passages about Easter Bunnies and one could be forgiven if it were felt that it was some crass current day commercial tradition.  Turns out the celebration may have originated as long ago as the 13th century in Germany. It is a celebration of rebirth and Easter. The Osterhase delivered colourful eggs to celebrate the rebirth.  The tradition was brought to America but German settlers and the first chocolate bunnies were made hollow to celebrate the emptiness of the tomb.  Eggs were considered a food to give up for and thus to save them they were boiled coloured and then given and eaten in celebration of the rebirth with a special treat.

The Christian custom of Easter eggs, specifically, started among the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs with red colouring "in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at His crucifixion.  The oldest surviving decorated egg dates back to the fourth century AD yes it is German.  So while the commercial often overtakes our traditions give a small thought to what they represent and share the joy of the rebirth with all we love.

The Lords blessing of the Promise kept.

Noral R.

Palm Sunday

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I often tend to get more engaged in Advent than in Christmas, and the same is true of Palm Sunday: sometimes anticipation of excitement is easier to embrace than the event itself.  Certainly, the Palm Sunday parades the children participate in every year, as they did this Sunday, signify the greatness and the importance of what rode into Jerusalem with the donkey: the incarnation, redemption, truth.  And, it was too much for the existing social order to accept.  It is lovely, sometimes, to sit still in the moment of excitement, and consider the happy hosanas from the children of Jerusalem, than to reflect on the death that followed.  It is not lost on me, this year, that the marches of children and youth on Washington for gun control took place on the weekend of Palm Sunday: more parades of children.  I pray that the possibility of social change, and better protection, for those children will be as profound as the resurrection that followed Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, as real as the thousands of years of Christendom that followed.

 

Rebecca B.

DYING TO RISE John 12: 20-33

Talking about dying is troubling.  Do we deal with it or just deny it even though it happens?  We know death. We know it all too well.  Yet it is harder to imagine the truth of resurrection.  In the reading this morning from John 12: 20-33, we learn that this is God’s way of telling us that the cross (death) is not the end.   Rev. Dimock reminded us to think of dying as that grain of wheat - as it dies it bears much fruit.  But is it the end?  Regardless of what it looks like, this is not the end.  Resurrection is always hidden within death.  We might survive but we aren’t really alive.  Jesus did not ask to be saved from death. He is unwilling to settle for survival when the fullness of God’s life is before him. Grains of wheat. That is what we are. Through death, however, we can become the bread of life.

Jeanie H.