Crux 2018: God Sightings – Day 2

Day 2 began with a worship focused on the scripture Ezekiel 2:1-7. It tells the hard story of the call of Ezekiel. He is being called to a people who are deeply rebellious in nature, a people to whom Ezekiel must speak the word of God, and yet people who may strike back, speak back, even hurt Ezekiel. The preacher Sarah called to mind those times where the church has not be a place of healing all the time, but a place that bruises and scars us. This is true in all parts of our church and not just for ministry personnel. Many people, clergy and lay are hurt by the church and the powers within the church because there is some definition of who is in and who is out.
Continue reading

Advertisements

Crux 2018: God Sightings – Day 1

Though things didn’t officially kick off until 9 am with registration, the time before that: the breakfast, the chance meetings at the church, the conversations, were some great moments that immediately reminded me of why I return to this conference year after year. It is like a family reunion, reconnecting and sharing stories of where our lives had gone in the past year. Even before worship started, I breathed deep of the Holy Spirit as the music team practised the hymns and songs that would be singing.
Continue reading

Reflecting On Bermuda

A journey of blessings. This is how I would caption my recent visit to the island and synod of Bermuda. The week began ominously as we were flying in during a thunderstorm, and the first blessing we found was a pause in the storm giving us time to land rather than being diverted to Boston.

On passing through customs, my partner Natalie and I were greeted with the warm smile of Cyril Simmons, minister of Ebenezer. Having met Cyril at Cruxifusion a few years ago, I felt like I was somewhere familiar. The week that followed from this beginning was a series of people who made Natalie and I feel at home, welcome in a country that we had never been to, but a part of a church family that spans borders and oceans.
Continue reading

Looking Beyond Boundaries

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
By now, many of you have had a few days to sit with the interim report from the Boundaries Commission. For some, what is being suggested is more than was expected, while for others it is less. Still others are wary of change, whatever may come. For many within the Maritime Conference, the possibility of brothers and sisters in faith being divided by the line drawn by the commission, is not a future toward which many are eager to walk.

Let us take time to breathe. Let us also take time to imagine what might yet be in the regions that are proposed, and along with that look at what can continue, what can’t continue, and what might have to take new shape and may gain new life.

Whether what we have been given is what the shape of the church ends up being, or just an iteration on the road of who we will become, we have been asked to reflect. What are the pitfalls? What are the possibilities? The more that we can offer back as authentic reflection and feedback, the better equipped the commission will be in finalizing their work.

In the midst of all our reflecting, let us also make room for the Holy Spirit to move within us, to inspire us to look at who we can be in a new way. And whatever may come, wherever the road may take us, God is already at work finding new ways to break into our lives, calling us to service and the sharing of our gifts. The shape of the church may change how we are called, but it won’t change the fact that we are called.

Blessings,

Rev. Richard

Christmas Message

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.

-Psalm 130:5-6

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The day draws ever nearer, and we, like those who watch for morning, are starting to see the horizon brighten.

I used to work in the hotel industry as a night auditor, and the words of this Psalm resonate with me on very deep level. Many were the times where I would wait and watch for the dawn which was the harbinger of my freedom, a light on the path that would lead me to the comfort of my bed. I know how much I longed for the morning, so I can imagine what the Psalmist is trying to say here about how deeply we are called to long for the Lord.

The season of Advent has been like a long night of work, of preparation, of waiting and of watching. We have taken this time in this season not just to ready our world for the coming dawn, but also to ready our hearts for the in-breaking of God. Because that’s what God is doing, breaking in. God offers us hope that comes with a new dawn to fend off the despair that comes from long nights of loneliness. God offers a peace, a kind that only God can bring, that makes the stillness of the night more comforting and less constricting. In those cold nights of sorrow, God reminds us of the joy that lives and reigns in us, a joy that is born anew this Christmas day. Ultimately God brings love to our hearts, where often we harbour feelings of hate and anger. Just as the stable on Christmas eve cannot remain empty when a woman bearing a child is seeking shelter, neither can hate live long in the manger of our hearts when God is seeking a place. This is because the love of God is stronger than hate.

God’s love is stronger than hate in the same way that light is stronger than darkness. No matter how all-consuming the darkness may feel, it only takes a spark to scatter so many shadows. This is why the dawn never fails to follow even the deepest of nights.

It only takes a spark to lighten the dark. It only takes a child to change our world.

God bless you in the days of celebration that come with the dawning of Christmas. Be safe. Sing loud the carols of praise. Drink deeply of the love that God pours out on the world. May your soul wait no longer.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings,

Rev. Richard

Maine Conference of UCC – Business and Worship

Saturday was a full day indeed. Most of the business was handled in the morning before lunch, and that included conversation and voting on changes to their by-laws! Along with being very efficient with the work they were called to do, the people of the Maine Conference started the day off right with worship that reminded each one present of the light that we take with us, the light that warms and guides us:the light of Christ. Continue reading

Maine Conference of UCC – Silence and Food

Something I thought was amazing was that the Maine Conference takes a whole day for a retreat just before the conference. This retreat is open to clergy and lay, and was titled Into Uncharted Territory: Navigating by Heart. To be honest, even after reading the retreat information, I was not really sure what to expect from the retreat.I thought that there might be a focus on future seeking, looking into the unknown and trying Continue reading