august 30th, 2020 – point of interest

Come friends.
Come with your grief.
Come with your loss.
Carry all the pieces of your heart
And come sit with us.
Bring your disappointments
And your failures.
Bring your betrayals
And your masks.
You are welcome here no matter where you come from.
Kamand Kojouri
This Is My Father’s World
This is my father’s world
     and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
     the music of the spheres
This is my father’s world
     I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas
     His hand the wonders wrought


This is my father’s world
     oh, let me never forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong
     God is the ruler yet


This is my father’s world
     why should my heart be sad
The Lord is king, let the heavens ring
     God reigns, let the earth be glad
Franklin Lawrence Sheppard
Maltbie Davenport Babcock
Hey Everyone!  Best wishes to all of you – it’s good to be with you through the technology of waves and wires.  I hope this last weekend of August has given you some opportunity to relax, unwind, and have a few laughs.  I am currently in Calgary helping the girls move, so this is the first remote connection liturgy.
I sent an email out on Friday regarding the survey responses.  If you didn’t see it or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, here is a quick recap.  There were 55 households from the connection community that responded to the survey.  Currently, only 33% of the connection households feel comfortable meeting in person again this fall.  Based on this, the connection will not be fully returning to in-person gatherings in September.  There will continue to be a weekly online liturgy, with a movement towards pre-recorded video liturgies.  I am going to work to tailor the liturgies for small group discussion and so the emphasis this fall will be trying to find ways the connection community to gather together in smaller groups around the liturgies.   I will be hosting an ‘open’ small group at the church on Sunday evenings at 6 pm, which is of course the connection’s usual meeting time. (By ‘open’ small group I just mean that it will be open for people to come and go as they feel comfortable.)  This will give anyone who wishes to gather in-person an opportunity to meet.  There will not be any children’s programming at this time.  As well, I know many of you are waiting to see how school goes, so I would like to revisit fully bringing back in-person gatherings again in November.  I will be sending out a few more details about all of this in the coming week.
And now, it’s story time with Beverly…
Hi Everyone!  Today I’ll be reading from The Jesus Storybook Bible written by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  It’s called, How to Pray and it’s about Jesus teaching people how to pray from Matthew 6.  Let’s listen…
In those days there were some Extra-Super-Holy People (at least that’s what they thought), and they were called “Pharisees.” Every day, they would stand out there in the middle of the street and pray out loud in big Extra-Super-Holy Voices. They really weren’t praying so much as just showing off. They used lots of special words that were so clever, no one understood what they meant.
People walking by would stop and stare, which might sound rude – except that’s exactly what the Extra-Super-Holy people wanted. They wanted everyone to say, “Look at them. They’re so holy. God must love those people best.”
Now, you and I both know they were wrong –God doesn’t just love holy people. But the people walking by weren’t so sure. Perhaps you did have to be really clever, or good, or important for God to love you. Perhaps you had to know lots of difficult, clever words to speak to God.
So one day, Jesus taught people how to pray. He said, “When you pray, don’t pray like those Extra-Super-Holy People. They think if they say lots of words, God will hear them. But it’s not because you’re so clever, or good, or so important, that God will listen to you. God listens to you because he loves you.
“Did you know that God is always listening to you? Did you know that God can hear the quietest whisper deep inside your heart, even before you’ve started to say it? Because God knows exactly what you need even before you ask him,” Jesus told them.
“You see, God just can’t wait to give you all that you need. So you don’t need to use long words or special words. You don’t have to use a special voice. You just have to talk.
“So when you pray, pray in your normal voice, just like when you’re talking to someone you love very much.
Like this…
Dear God, we want to know you.
  And be close to you.
Please show us how.
  Make everything in the world right again,
   and in our hearts, too.
Do what is best – just like you do in heaven,
   and please do it down here, too.
Please give us everything we need today.
  Forgive us for doing wrong, for hurting you.
Forgive us just as we forgive other people,
   when they hurt us.
Rescue us!
  We need you.
We don’t want to keep running away
   and hiding from you.
Keep us safe from our enemies.
  You’re strong, God.
You can do whatever you want.
  You are in charge.
Now and forever and for always!
  We think you’re great!
You see, Jesus was showing people that God would always love them – with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.
So they didn’t need to hide anymore, or be afraid, or be ashamed. They could stop running away from God. And they could run to him instead.
Just like we can. 
Have a great week everybody!

What A Friend We Have In Jesus
What a friend we have in Jesus
   all our sins and grief to bear
What a privilege to carry
     everything to God in prayer
O what peace we often forfeit
     O what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
     everything to God in prayer
Have we trials and temptations
     is there trouble anywhere
We should never be discouraged
     take it to the Lord in prayer
Can we find a friend so faithful
     who will all our sorrows share
Jesus knows our every weakness
     take it to the Lord in prayer
Are we weak and heavy laden
     cumbered with a load of care
Precious Savior still our refuge
     take it to the Lord in prayer
Do thy friends despise forsake thee
     take it to the Lord in prayer
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee
     thou wilt find a solace there
Charles Crozat Converse
Joseph Medlicott Scriven


Have you ever noticed the Point of Interest signs along the highways? Blue signs beckoning highway travellers to pull over and see something interesting. There are several of them between Saskatoon and Calgary that I have driven by more than one hundred times. I have to admit I’ve been kind of cynical about the signs – as in, ‘What could possibly be interesting out here?’ However, this past week I had a little extra time on my way home and so I decided to stop at one. (I’ve included a few of the pictures beneath the link for this liturgy.)
As I pulled off the highway I found myself looking into a cul-de-sac with a giant rock in the middle. At the entrance there was a sign with a write up about the rock. According to the sign, the rock had been carried by a glacier and then left on the prairie as the glacier receded. For hundreds of years buffalo used the rock as a rubbing stone to remove their winter hair. (And evidently, to relieve the occasional itch.) The action of the buffalo rubbing against the rock created a trench around the rock. I drove in walked down into the trench, touched the rock, and tried to imagine what it would have been like to see a herd of buffalo gathered around the rock. Score one for the Saskatchewan Department of Natural Resource – it was interesting.
A little while later, I saw a sign indicating another upcoming Point of Interest. I decided to check this one out too. I pulled off the highway, stopped the car, and got out. I was standing at the edge of a wheat field that slowly rose to meet the horizon. The colour of the wheat against the contrast of the clear blue sky looked amazing. Then I began looking around for a sign or a marker or something to tell me about the place I had stopped – to enlighten me as to what I was taking in, but there was to indicate what the spot was commemorating. I stood there looking at the wheat for a few seconds – it was not super interesting. So I took a picture, got back in the car and continued on my way towards home. As I was driving away I started wondering about why the spot had been marked as a Point of Interest. What had happened there? The story, the meaning, the significance – all lost to me. It’s become just a nondescript wheat field marked by a blue sign that suggests it was once a place worth taking note of.
This has gotten me thinking about how the telling of story brings definition and meaning to things. Like to a big rock sitting by the side of a highway. It also has reminded me that in the absence of story being told, meaning and definition can become lost. Telling and retelling stories help us remember.
Remembering is the ability to recall to the mind, or to retain a memory of. But it also carries with it a sense of mindfulness that directs our actions. Like how we say to children ‘remember to look both ways before crossing a street so you don’t get hit by a car.’ Or how driving instructors teach us ‘to remember to shoulder check before changing lanes to avoid a collision.’ In this way remembering creates patterns that we live into. In the absence of remembering patterns that we have lived into begin to diminish and associations that we have identified with begin to fade.
Some of you know that my mother has dementia. For her it has been a slow, but steady loss of cognitive awareness. In its progression, it became harder to connect with her because she had a hard time remembering who I was. When we would go to visit I would take a family picture with me. I would ring the doorbell and when she answered the door I would show her the picture to help her place who I was. There would be long stretches where she had no idea who I was and we would function like strangers. Making small talk while we worked on putting a puzzle together. Then every once in a while she would call me Robert, which was an indication that she knew me – that we were no longer strangers who were meeting for the first time – but rather we were mother and son. And in those moments we would visit in the depth of the stories of fifty years of being family. But now, sadly, her dementia has advanced to the place where she no longer remembers any family members – we are all strangers to her. Because of this inability to remember, her capacity to identify as and live into the role of wife, mother, sister, grandma, aunt, and friend is also lost.
As I’ve been reflecting on all of this, I’m starting recognizing that it intersects with some of my recent thinking about church.
I’ve started trying to work out in my mind what the future looks like for church. What will its story be, what will drive its purpose, what will keep it from becoming irrelevant, what needs to happen for it to evolve in a way that captures the hearts and imaginations of people?
Certainly telling the stories of God’s activity in our lives is a starting point. When we find ourselves in places where the noise, the strife, and the dissonance of life washes over us, the telling of these stories can serve to connect us to a God who is both worth remembering but promises to always remember us.
For me, one of the greatest places of God’s activity in my life is in the questions I am asking. The uncensored dialogue I have with God as I push into the places of internal dissonance. It’s not that I’m in conflict with the notion of God – my life is in pursuit of a greater connectedness with God the Creator – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Rather my questions, my places of dissonance are in relationship to the structures and frameworks used to explain God and mandate who has access to God, and who is embraced and accepted by God.
And the truth is, I’m asking these questions because I want the church to be vibrant and alive. I want the memories it forms to be life giving and loving. I don’t want to see it become a dead place or an irrelevant place or just a building that once marked the sweetness of deep community centered around Jesus.
Next week I’m going to talk more about dissonance and change. But for now I want to leave us with a few questions to consider this week. Maybe you can talk about them with a couple of friends or family members. I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to drop me a note.
So, here are the questions…
What would your response be if someone asked you why you are a part of a church?
What would your response be if someone asked you what the point of church is?
What stories would you tell that help you remember and stayed connected to God’s activity in your life?
Are there any ways that you think the church needs to evolve to better capture the hearts and imaginations of people? If so, how?
Let me close with a few verses from Psalm 105 that I am carrying with me as I ask these questions.
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.
Remember the wonders he has performed,
his miracles, and the rulings he has given,
Praise the Lord!
I love our community and I am looking forward to exploring and unpacking these questions with all of you as we move into the fall.
Grace to you for the coming week.
Come and Listen
Come and listen
     come to the water’s edge
   all you who know and fear the Lord
Come and listen
     come to the water’s edge
   all you who are thirsty come
Let me tell you what
     He has done for me
Let me tell you what
     He has done for me
He has done for you
     He has done for us
Come and listen
     come and listen to what He’s done
Come and listen
     come and listen to what He’s done
Praise our God for He is good
     praise our God for He is good
Praise our God for He is good
     praise our God for He is good
He has done for me
     He has done for you
   He has done for us
Come and listen
     come and listen to what He’s done
Come and listen
     come and listen to what He’s done
David Crowder

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