september 20th, 2020 – reconnect pt. 2

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
From where we are
     to where you need us,
   Jesus, now lead on.
 
To mend the fabric of this world
     until it is refashioned into the shape of your kingdom,
   Jesus, now lead on.

 

From where we are
     to where you need us,
  Jesus, now lead on.
Amen
Baptist Union of Great Britain

Vapor
Oh the vapor of it all
     it’s a chasing of the wind
   the powers of the earth so pale and thin
We will set our hearts on you again

Holy, you oh God are holy
     trees clap their hands for you
   oceans they dance for you
You are holy

Oh the mystery of it all
     I can never peer within
   could never find the words or understand
The fullness of a God become a man
 
Holy, you oh God are holy
     trees clap their hands for you
   oceans they dance for you

You are holy
     infinite and holy
A billion suns rise for you
     clouds paint the skies for you
   mountains stand tall for you
     valleys bow down to you
Everything rising
     to sing all our song for you
 
Alleluia
 
Holy, the impossible and holy
     kings become fools for you
   kingdoms to ruins for you
     vapor finds ground in you
   music finds sound for you
Everything rising, everything rising

Come like dawn
     like waves
   like sunlight
Bring this world to life

Come like rain
     like breath
   like springtime
Bring us back to life
Lisa Gungor
Michael Gungor
 
Hey Everyone – it’s good to be with you through waves and wires.  I hope the week has been all right and that the weekend has given some reprieve from the regular routines of the week.  The sun felt so nice on my back yesterday – but it definitely felt like fall has arrived.

 

So just a quick note – Chloe and Cooper had a healthy baby boy today.  His name is Howard John Russell.  He is 9lbs 2ozs and came two week early.  Everyone is healthy and happy.

 

I want to highlight the upcoming Evolving Faith 2020 virtual conference.  The conference was co-founded by Sarah Bessey and Rachel Held Evans in 2018.  Its aim is to create safe space for people to ask questions and explore faith, particularly those who are struggling to find a meaningful place within a faith tradition that no longer seems to fit them.

 

The Evolving Faith conference leadership puts it this way, ‘We are gathering not in spite of these turbulent times, but because of them.   We’re ready to listen—to God and to one another. We’re ready to reimagine, rebuild, and maybe even resurrect a faith that works not only for us but also for the whole messy and good world.’ 

 

The conference is on October 2 & 3.  It runs from 8:30 am – 4 pm on both days.  The cost is $99 US dollars, which last week was around $130 Canadian.  There are no group or student discounts, however there are scholarships available through the Evolving Faith website.  If you are wanting to be a part of this conference but find it financially inaccessible please come talk to me and we’ll try and figure something out.

 

I’m thinking that if there were interest, we could host a group of up to thirty people at the church to watch the live-stream of the conference.  Kent and Cathy Anderson, who attended the conference last year in Denver, said that they would be willing to help facilitate dialogue following each session.  (One nice thing about the way they have set up the conference is that the registration fee also covers access to the recordings of the conference sessions for six months – so even if you have to miss some of the conference you will be able to access what you missed later.)

 

If you think you might be interested in this – send me a note and we’ll work to get things organized. 

 

For more information you can visit the Evolving Faith website at evolvingfaith.com.  There are links to the conference site and to a list of frequently asked questions about the conference underneath the link to this liturgy.

 

This fall Beverly is putting together a children’s moment that is connected to the lesson and resources that she emails out.  If you are a parent or caregiver and you didn’t receive an email from Beverly, let us know and we’ll make sure to get you on the list this week.  You can also access the lesson and resources at ebap.ca/childrens-ministry.  That link can also be found underneath the link for this liturgy.  And now it’s story time with Beverly…
Praise the Father
Who is the one to whom you belong
    who in your weakness has made you strong
  who fills your heart with joyful song it
   is the Lord your God
 
Praise the Father, praise the Son
   Praise the Spirit, three in One
Who was and is and is to come
   All praise and honour and glory and power
O praise His name forever
 
Who is the One with whom you will be
    from highest mountain to darkest valley
  who is the One who in you dwells
   it is the Lord your God
 
Praise the Father, praise the Son
   Praise the Spirit, three in One
Who was and is and is to come
   All praise and honour and glory and power
O praise His name forever
Gord Johnson

Next week will begin our exploration into pre-recorded video liturgies.  The liturgies will be tailored for small group discussion and so I’m hoping that we can find ways to have conversations around the liturgies in whatever small group context that works for you.  (And a reminder that the liturgies will also include Beverly’s children’s moment)
 
So next week I’m going to start with a five-week series that will incorporate resources from The Work of the People.  The series will draw on the wisdom and experience of Brian McLaren, Miroslav Volf, Bishop Mano Rumalshah, Lisa Sharon Harper, and Father Gregory Boyle.

 

My hope is that the series will help us begin a dialogue around two questions:  One, what practical implications, both individually and as the Church, are implicit in embracing the radical love and inclusive nature of Jesus?   And two, how can ‘living into’ the radical love and inclusive nature of Jesus serve as a catalyst in bringing people together as one humanity for the healing of the world?  I realize these are big questions but I think they are important ones for us to consider.
 
But for this week…
 
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a community that cares for one another.  It’s especially tricky at this time where distance and isolation have become a prescribed way to live.  The series we will be getting into explores some of the issues that have created fracture within society and the church.  But I thought before we got into those it would be good to spend a week catching up with one another as best we can.
 
So tonight is about us – I’m calling it reconnect pt.2.  Typically reconnect affords us the opportunity to eat together and to visit with one another.  To catch up.  Well a couple of weeks ago, Kari and I delivered bread mix to all of you in hopes that it would help remind you of the connection community through the baking and eating of the bread.  Tonight is more about making space to hear each other’s stories.

 

Before we get fully into that, I’d like us to just be reminded of a familiar encounter between a woman and Jesus.  It’s found in three of the Gospels but I’m going to read from Luke.  It’s found in Luke 8:42-48.  It’s a story within a story, and both stories revolve around Jesus making time to hear people’s stories and the transformation that occurs through those encounters with Jesus.  There is definitely a part of these two encounters that intersects with belief / faith and healing but for me that piece isn’t the main emphasis.  I think it’s a reminder that Jesus spends so much time creating space for people to tell their stories, to share their doubts or pain or disbelief or joy, and in those moments, face-to-face with Jesus people are changed.  You see that with Zacchaeus, the children coming to Jesus, the woman with her perfume, Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the disciples, and on and on.  But let’s have a look at this story.
 
A man named Jairus had come to Jesus and begged him to heal his sick daughter.  After hearing Jairus’s story, Jesus agrees to go with him to his home to meet his daughter.  And this is where we pick up our story…
 
While Jesus was on his way to Jairus’ house, the people were crowding all around him. 43 A woman was in the crowd who had been bleeding for twelve years, and she had spent all the money she had on doctors but no one was able to heal her. 44 She came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his coat, and instantly her bleeding stopped. 45 Then Jesus said, “Who touched me?”
 
When all the people said they had not touched him, Peter said, “Master, the people are all around you and are pushing against you.”
 
46 But Jesus said, “Someone did touch me, because I felt power go out from me.” 47 When the woman saw she could not hide, she came forward, shaking, and fell down before Jesus. While all the people listened, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Jesus said to her, “Dear woman, you are made well because you believed. Go in peace.”

 

What strikes you about this story?
 
Does anything seem odd to you?
 
What tone of voice do you hear Jesus using?
 
Here there is a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had spent all those years trying to find a doctor who could cure her sickness.  It had exhausted all of her money.  So she was broke. Also, because she was constantly bleeding, in the Jewish culture, been considered unclean.  So that would have caused her to have to live in social and religious isolation.
 
Her being in the crowd that day would have been a risk to her as everyone she came in contact with would have also become unclean.  So for her to touch Jesus was way outside of the scope of what would have been socially appropriate – especially as Jesus was also a rabbi. 
 
I suspect she thought that with all the people on the road, no one would ever know if she touched Jesus, maybe not even him.  She would have been following in the crowd planning her moment to reach out and touch the cloak of Jesus.  She must have been desperate – I would have been desperate.  This was a last hope kind of moment – that if she touched Jesus she might be healed.
 
So she pushes her way through the crowd and gets close enough to touch the hem of Jesus’s garment.  It was quick and sneaky and she pulled it off.  But suddenly Jesus abruptly stops walking and asks, ‘Who touched me?’  She must have been dying inside.  Scared of what would happen if the people found out it was her that touched Jesus. She must have thought she would get into major trouble if people found out it was her that touched Jesus.
 
People in the crowd start denying that they had touched Jesus.  It makes me wonder if it was the tone the Jesus used or the fact that they didn’t want to be too closely associated with Jesus.
 
Peter makes the obvious point to Jesus – ‘Umm, Jesus there are a bazillion people pushing and crowding around you – there’s probably fifty people here who touched you.
 
But it seems like Jesus isn’t speaking about being bumped – he really wants to drill down and find the person who reached for him, who stretched out to touch him.
 
Now do you really think that Jesus didn’t know who touched him?  I’m kind of puzzled by that.  So why does Jesus keep insisting that someone touched him?  Why does it matter?  Jesus tells Peter that he felt power leave him.  Also a bit weird, right?  Like when you were a kid and you shuffled around on the carpet to build up static electricity to shock someone.  It definitely seems like something else is going on.
 
I used to think that maybe Jesus was mad and was insisting on finding the person to rebuke them for taking something from him without asking.  But of late I’ve come up with another theory.  I think what Jesus was doing was creating space and an opportunity for the woman to tell her story.
 
In the account it says that the woman realized that she couldn’t hide – couldn’t make herself stay invisible – so she approaches Jesus so scared. She falls to her knees at his feet, a posture of fear.  And then she begins to talk – and everyone listened as she told her story.  How she had been ill, how she had tried everything to find a cure, how she was desperate enough to come out onto the streets to find Jesus and through his touch she was healed.
 
That’s another thing I wonder about – when did she realize that she had been healed? 
 
I wonder what the crowd thought?  What they thought Jesus would do?
 
In the end, he speaks words of blessing and affirmation and healing into her. He calls her ‘dear’ – there is affection for the woman, kindness, generosity, unrestrained love.
 
He affirms her belief and tells her that it has made her well – but the bigger thing is that she goes away embraced – reinstated into community life, no longer unknown, no longer unclean.
 
So this has made me think about what happens when we begin to make space and create opportunities for people to tell their stories.  To share in little bits or in great depth how they are, what they need, to be seen, and to be embraced fully as a community member.
 
The melody and some of the words to Litany of the Saints has been rolling around in my head this week.  It’s a song that is often used at Easter Vigil.  Really it’s a sung prayer.  It’s begins by asking Mary and the saints to pray on our behalves.  (I know that can make some people a bit uncomfortable, but I’m drawn to the idea that those men and women of great faith and works might take up my cause through prayer – and truthfully, Hebrews chapter twelve seems to suggest there is an active witness of saints all around us, but I digress)  The conclusion to the litany is a series of prayer requests that are voiced directly to Jesus.  It’s absolutely beautiful.  In a minute I’m going to play an excerpt from it.
 
But what this song really reminds of is that we all carry things, we all have things going on in our lives, internal and external, that we need prayer for.  And sometimes we forget to ask each other how we can be praying for one another.
 
I started off by saying that I’m calling this reconnect pt.2  It’s because eating together is part of connecting, but creating space and opportunity for people to tell their stories, to learn from one another, to support one another is equally part of connecting.
 
So tonight I thought we could finish the liturgy by giving some time and space for people to tell pieces of their story.  I think maybe starting small is a good place, but also if you are with a group (family or friends) or with a person that you know really well, then it’s cool to go deeper. 
 
My suggestion is to focus on the fall and ask a few questions around that…
 
How are you feeling about moving into the fall?  What kinds of transitions are you navigating your way through?

 

How are you doing with the things that define your regular routines – maybe work, or school, or retirement, or whatever?
 
What do you need moving into the fall?
 
How can I (or we) be praying for you over the next couple of weeks.
 
If you are listening to this alone you take an inventory of these questions for yourself – maybe write them down – and in the next couple of days hand them off to someone you trust. 
 
If you can’t think of anyone, please feel free to send me an email and I would be honoured to pray for you.
 
So I’m going to play the Litany of the Saints and then leave you to talk through the questions in whatever ways make sense.
 
Take care…
 
Litany of the Saints
 
All you holy men and women pray for us
 
Lord, have mercy, pray for us
   Christ, have mercy, pray for us
Lord, have mercy, pray for us
    pray for us
 
All you holy men and women pray for us
 
Lord, be merciful, save your people
   from all evil, save your people
 from every sin, save your people
  from everlasting death, save your people
 
By your incarnation, save your people
   by your death and resurrection, save your people
 by your gift of the Spirit, save your people
   have mercy on us sinners, save your people.
 
Christ, hear us
   Lord Jesus, hear our prayer
John D. Becker


september 13th, 2020 – open mic

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Spirit of God,
     you are always giving life
to the people of God,
     giving birth to children of God.
Remodel us in the image of Jesus,
     fill us with his love
and enable us with his risen power,
     that we might be faithful to his way,
used by you in the redeeming of your world.
     Amen.
Baptist Union of Great Britain
All Creatures
All creatures of our God and King
     lift up your voice and with us sing
O praise Him, alleluia
 
Thou burning sun with golden beam
     Thou silver moon with softer gleam
O praise Him, O praise Him
     alleluia, alleluia, alleluia
 
Thou rushing wind that art so strong
     ye clouds that sail in heav’n along
O praise Him, alleluia
Thou rising moon in praise rejoice
     ye lights of evening find a voice 
O praise Him, O praise Him
     alleluia, alleluia, alleluia
 
Let all things their Creator bless,
     and worship Him in humbleness
O praise him, alleluia
 
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
     and praise the Spirit, three in one
O praise Him, O praise Him
     alleluia, alleluia, alleluia
 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia
Lasst Uns Erfreuen
St. Francis
David Crowder
Brent Milligan
 
Hey Everyone! How did the week go for all of you? I hope well – I feel like I’m sounding like Mr. Rogers haha. Thanks for the notes and pictures that were sent in regarding the bread from last week. It was really lovely to see the bread in its baked state and to hear some of your stories of your experiences.
 
Today is the connection’s twenty-second birthday – crazy, huh. But even bigger, yesterday happens to be Emmanuel’s ninetieth birthday. There is a video to commemorate Emmanuel celebrating ninety years that you can access by clicking on the link below the link to this liturgy.
 
A reminder that next week (September 20), I will be hosting an open small group at 6 pm on Sunday evenings at the church. It is an ‘open small group’ in the sense that It will be open to anyone who wishes to come. It will be same content as the online liturgy that will be sent out except that the teaching portion and maybe some of the music will be
live. There will not be any children’s programming offered, but if children come to the small group gathering, Beverly’s children’s moment will be played and the week’s curriculum will be made available, to them should they wish to work through it. Also, if there is interest, we will offer M.U.S.E. to youth grades 7 -12 every other week.
 
Also, we are still working to find ways of being a helpful presence in our local community. Kari has a few initiatives for us to consider as we move into fall.
 
One: we are looking for unused water bottles and extra school supplies.
Two: we are looking for people to sew some youth sized masks.
Three: we are looking for new sleeping bags, women’s toiletries, and towels/wash cloths
Four: we depend on your donations to stock our food pantry – if you are able to continue donating, we would greatly appreciate it.
You can see the full details of these initiatives by clicking on the link below the link for this liturgy.
 
And now it’s story time with Beverly – in this liturgy I am just playing the audio of the video of Beverly. If you would like to watch instead of just listen you can click the link below the link for the liturgy. It goes along with the lesson that Beverly emailed out this week. If you didn’t receive an email, let us know and we’ll make sure to get you on the
list…
Hi Everyone!
I’m Beverly and this is a pretty unique time, so we want to come alongside you in unique ways to help you and your family grow and learn. This year we’re going to be providing lesson resources each week on our website and in an email that I’ll be sending out to your families.
 
We’re going to be meeting a lot of people from the Bible this year, and all these people are important because they let us know something about God. This week, our lesson is called In The Beginning. It’s from the first book in the Bible called Genesis: Genesis 1:1-2:4. Genesis means beginning, and the story of God creating the world is all about beginnings and how God made order out of chaos. I’m reading our story today out of the Whirl Kids Story Bible. Let’s listen:
 
In the beginning, nothing made sense. It was chaos. The earth hadn’t been shaped yet; darkness was everywhere. But God’s Spirit was already there. Always moving, moving, moving.
 
God decided to get things in order.
 
God made light and saw that it was good. God made light day, and darkness night.
God created the sky and separated the water from the land. Plants and trees popped out of the ground. God filled the sea with all kinds of fish and God saw that it was good.
 
The sun shone brightly during the day and the moon glowed gently during the night. Birds burst into the sky and bugs buzzed through the air. Worms crawled through the dirt and the fields and forests thundered under the feet of all of God’s animals. And God saw that it was good.
 
God created people, male and female. “I have placed my image on you. I bless you” God said. “All of this creation is for you. Eat the plants, tend to the animals, care for creation, and grow and grow.”
 
God looked over all creation. It was VERY good. Finally, God rested.
 
I have a question for you. When you think about God’s creation what is one of your favourite parts?
 
I think of a beluga whale and the way it looks like he’s always smiling.
Or…anything blue: the water, the flowers.
And of course people!
 
Well, that’s it. But remember to go to our website and check your email for more resources surrounding this lesson. And remember as you go through your day you are unique. God only made one you. You are strong, and remember where your strength comes from.  And you are fiercely loved by God and others. Have a good week everybody.
 
Shelter
In the arms of a good Father
     you can go in the deep water
where the questions we have left unspoken
     come out in the open
We will find shelter here
 
So I lay down
     what I cannot hold in my hands
Every sorrow and hope spinning out of control
     here I find sweet resolution
comes in letting go
 
We will find shelter here
Sandra McCracken
 
Well today I want to finish our little series centered on remembering by having us think a bit about dissonance. If you remember, a couple of weeks ago I started by saying how the telling of story brings definition and meaning to things. Telling and retelling stories help us remember. Remembering, as we know, 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.
 
I turned that remembering towards faith and church, suggesting that telling stories of God’s activity in our lives is a starting point for helping us actively remember and stay connected to Jesus. Also wrapped up in those stories are the experiences of the community in which these stories unfold – and for many people that context is church. And unfortunately, there are so many stories about church experiences that have, and still continue, to create dissonance for people. Dissonance in turn that creates questions that are carried and internalized. And the questions are often shut down because they
push against the status quo of church, against belief structures that have been handed down, against frameworks that are deemed immutable, against the sharp delineation between who is in and who is out. And without the ability to ask out loud, without the freedom to voice disagreement, without the encouragement to explore, the questions just rattle around in our hearts and minds and create feelings of alienation. So of course the remembering that goes along with telling of these stories is one of disappointment, or frustration, or hurt, or disillusionment.
 
I’ve been thinking a lot about this – the driving impetus being that I want our community to be an open and safe place to ask questions, to be a safe place where people sift, critique, and even shed parts of the story that don’t work for them anymore.
 
I think I probably talk about this all the time, but as I watch the kids in our community getting older, I really hope that they grow up with a group of people that encourage them to ask and wrestle and disagree. And not just kids, all of us need that.
 
I grew up in a very conservative church environment – and there were so many things that didn’t fit. That I just couldn’t get behind. There were so many things that I wanted to ask, to explore, to have a conversation about, to say out loud. But there was no capacity for it – and so I left out the back door.
 
I needed to find a safe space to pull apart some of the story that was given to me – to shed ideas that created internal dissonance – especially around ‘othering’ and exclusion.
 
In my experience, it is rare to find a church community, and especially a denomination that makes space for questions without first doubling down on policies that make change nearly impossible to occur – a reinforcing of an ideological box that concretely sums up and defines God. So unfortunately for those who make think differently, the only place
for new ideas or approaches or development to take root is on the outside.
 
My favourite chapter in the Bible is Luke 5. If you have time this week, maybe give it a spin. It is one story after another of Jesus saying, you think you got this all figured out – nope, let me just break down that box for you. You think you’ve got me pegged, sorry, I’m actually for the outsiders. You think your theology is on lock – oops, what about this. I want our community to be open and loving and embracing – centered around Jesus – guided by love and respect.
 
I’ve been wondering about what the future looks like for church. What its story will be, what will drive its purpose, what will keep it from becoming irrelevant, and what needs to happen for it to evolve in a way that captures the hearts and imaginations of people? I think it starts with holding space for people to ask questions, being open to possibility, to
wonder, and to helping people live more fully who they are meant to be.
 
My favourite story in Luke 5 is where a paralyzed man is carried by his friends to meet Jesus. They have a sense that if they can come face to face with Jesus, things will change for their friend who can’t walk. But Jesus is boxed in by so many people that the only way they can get to Jesus is to tear a hole in the roof and lower him in. I like that picture – sometimes to get to Jesus you have to tear a hole whatever the thing is that’s boxing him in.
 
Laurie and I watched a show produced by Sara Bareilles called Little Voice. It’s about a struggling musician trying to find her own way amidst family responsibilities, relationship struggles, and the grind of working several jobs to make ends meet. In the end she recognizes that she has let these things steal her voice – and that what she has been missing is her voice in the mix. She started letting everyone else’s ideas speak for her, to eclipse her, and that to find a starting point in working out the conflict and dissonance that all these things bring to her she needs to speak up for herself.
 
It resonated with me in a deep kind of way. Especially about missing my voice in some of these conversations – letting others speak for me. And inversely, be a person who is actively working to make space for all the little voices.
 
I want to continue to be a part of a community that gives voice to people. That allows people be who they are – that facilitates dialogue in a listening way. That pulls people towards the center, not pushes them to the margins. That inspires people’s hearts and imaginations. That breaks open ceilings so people can come face-to-face with Jesus. To be a church that is vibrant and alive and is marked by the sweetness of deep community centered around Jesus.
 
I think it might be messy and hard, but I think it’s the right thing.
 
 
Little Voice
It’s everything I am and what I’m not
     and all I’m tryin’ to be
This is the part where I spit it all out
     and you decide what you think of me
I’m not trying to be complicated
     I’m never waiting to get the last laugh
But I’ve been handing out benefits of the doubt
     and I’d like a little bit back
 
It’s just a little voice
     and if you’re listenin’;
Sometimes a little voice
     can say the biggest things
It’s just my little voice that I’ve been missing
 
Looking over the precious moments, it hurts, don’t it –
     they can cut both ways
No amount of remembering the better things
     can make the bad ones go away
But I’ve been broken and the one to blame
     so my saviour of self-defense, taught me to sing what I can’t say
It’s just a little voice
     and if you’re listenin’;
Sometimes a little voice
     can say the biggest things
It’s just my little voice that I’ve been missing
Sara Bareilles


august 30th, 2020 – point of interest

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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april 19th, 2020 – the road

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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april 12th – resurrection sunday

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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