Kars, ON, Canada
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This Week at Worship - 2018
Sunday, December 30, 2018
Good morning to you. Happy 4th day of Christmas (now the 5th - see above). I trust you are relaxed and enjoying some moments of simply being present.
I want to express my gratitude to all who gave so much to our communities of faith over the Season of Advent and on Christmas Eve. To all who made our Advent journey and Christmas Eve services holy and joyful, to all who read, who sang and played music, lit candles, bought flowers, delivered flowers, visited, greeted, helped assemble "Advent In a Bag," coloured Advent Posters, offered gifts for Naomi House and Centre 507 (and then delivered them), got baptized(!), served Holy Communion, "acted," decorated and cleaned the churches, shoveled snow, tossed salt on icy surfaces, made coffee and tea and contributed sweets and so much more, my thanks, our collective thanks to you all for sharing your gifts in so many ways. We truly are the Body of Christ and in ministry together.
May you continue to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas as we move into a new year. This Sunday, December 30, we gather for a relaxed joint worship service over a light breakfast at St. James, 9:30 a.m. All are welcome. Come as you are.
Happy New Year to you. May it be a year filled with hope, peace, love and joy.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, December 23, 2018
Greetings to you on this, the official first day of winter.
The season of Advent began, it feels to me, just a few days ago and here we are on the cusp of Christmas Eve. Advent, a time of preparing and waiting patiently for the birth of the Christ-child once again on Christmas Day. The next few days can and most likely will feel exhausting, so I have a question for you. Might you take time for self-care between now and Christmas Day? Might you take time to rest for a few minutes to remind yourself that it doesn't all have to get done; it doesn't have to be perfect? Enjoy the next few days and the season that is Christmas for it will go by much too quickly. As much as this is a joyful time of year, for some it might be a time of sadness and stress. I encourage you to acknowledge how you are feeling as you journey to the manger and the birth of hope, peace, joy and love in your life and our world. And, as you journey, practice self-care and know that we walk together and with God.
We are called to gather this Sunday, December 23 for Joint Worship at St. James, 9:30 a.m. as we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent - the Promise of Love. Our worship this Sunday shall be joyful and meaningful. We have a "heavenly host" of people of all ages participating as we offer our annual service of "Lessons and Carols." This Sunday, we also celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Baptism as we formally welcome Pam Uhryn-Hall as a member of the Body of Christ. A time of fellowship will take place in the church hall after worship. I hope to see you.
We are called to gather together as a community of faith again on Monday, Christmas Eve. Our Joint Family service occurs at 6 p.m. and our Joint Traditional Service occurs at 8 p.m. Both services are at Trinity, Kars and include the Sacrament of Holy Communion for Christmas and the passing of the Light of Christ as we sing together "Silent Night, Holy Night." The 8 p.m. service includes a solo by Shannon Mercer of "O Holy Night." Shannon is a well-known soprano and the daughter of Muriel Mercer. Do invite your family, neighbours and friends to join you on Sunday morning and on Monday evening. All are welcome. Without exception. Worship is an ideal place to practice self-care - to immerse yourself in community and in worship of God.
Blessings on your day and weekend. I look forward to being with you on Sunday morning and on Monday evening. If by chance you are traveling or otherwise not able to be present, may you know the Love of God born again for you at this time of year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May this season and the new year be one of thankfulness, renewal, joy, laughter and love.
P.S. As written announcements will not re-appear until later in January, please note the following:
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Friday greetings to you. We gather at worship this Sunday, 9:30 a.m. at St. James, 11 a.m. at Trinity to be in community with one another, to sing, to pray, to listen as we give God our worship. Please join us this Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent.
Our scripture readings are from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 12, verses 2 through 6 and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 3, verses 7 through 18. Our reading from Isaiah speaks of joy - that we are called to sing with joy, live with and for joy. Our Gospel reading picks up from last week when we read verses 1 through 6. The overall reading relates to the ministry of John the Baptist who announces the good news that the Messiah is coming. If you read this text in advance of Sunday worship (or you hear it on Sunday morning), you may think there is no joy here - it's all judgement. Indeed, John refers to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him as "You brood of vipers." That is not exactly a term of endearment. There is great joy in this text - God meets us where we are and works to transform us into a more "holy" life. Let us explore God's Living Words for us this Sunday.
If you are looking for something to do tonight (Friday, December 14) head on over to Trinity Kars for a showing of the film, "The Grinch who Stole Christmas." Showtime is 7 p.m. Free admission, cash canteen, All are Welcome!
Please note next Sunday, December 23 is joint worship at St. James, 9:30 a.m. Our service is a Festival of Lessons and Carols with the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.
May you have a wonderful weekend. See you Sunday.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Good day to you.
Apparently Christmas is just over 2 weeks away. The sales flyers, the commercials on TV, the radio and in the newspaper will not let us forget that. It's as if we are being compelled to rush into a shopping frenzy to make Christmas Day special. The barrage of Christmas advertising makes me think that I should get around to doing a bit of shopping. I haven't started and do not intend to start anytime soon. Mind you, my shopping list is not long - a rolling pin! (psst. Don't tell R. - don't want to ruin the surprise!). I am glad my list is short as it lets me journey patiently through the days of Advent. Regardless of whether your list is short or long, might you journey patiently through the days of Advent too? I can't help but hear God calling out to us at this time of year "Peace. Be still." Yes. "Peace. Be Still" and know that we do not need to rush. We can enjoy the journey as we name our longings for hope, peace, joy and love for ourselves, those we care about and for our world. As you journey, might you continue with "Advent in a Bag" launched at worship last Sunday, December 2. I am hearing how much people are enjoying the activities and conversation. If you did not pick up your "Advent in a Bag," please get one this Sunday at worship.
Our Scripture readings this Sunday, the Second Sunday of Advent - the Promise of Peace are from the Book of Malachi, Chapter 3, verses 1 through 4 and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 3, verses 1 through 6. In our reading from Malachi, the focus of the text is the coming of a messenger which many think refers to John the Baptist who is the focus of our Gospel of Luke reading. In our gospel reading the Word of God came to John the Baptist in the wilderness. As I reflect on this, I wonder how we too experience and hear the Word and Presence of God with us in our wilderness experiences. My sermon (always titled before I write it) is called "God Shows Up. Even to You! Even to Me!" Let's gather together this Sunday to hear God's Living Words for us.
I note the following:
Blessings on your Friday evening and weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Good afternoon. This Sunday, December 2, we enter the Season of Advent - a time to prepare and await the birth of hope, peace, joy and the love of Jesus in our hearts and our world.
On Sunday we begin the lighting of our Advent Candles with the candle of Hope. In our candle-lighting, praying, singing, reading, listening, and being nourished at God's table in the Sacrament of Holy Communion we begin, together, the journey to the manger in Bethlehem. We also launch "Advent in a Bag" this Sunday. We have a bag for each household to take home to more fully engage with Advent. Simply follow the instructions and undertake an activity (included in the bag) each day of Advent. A great project to undertake as a family, with friends or on your own. And at Trinity, our Sunday school students continue to "colour in Advent."
St. James worship at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. All are welcome. Without exception. Please invite your family and friends to join you.
Our scripture readings this Sunday are from the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 33, verses 14 through 16 and from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 21, verses 25 through 36. In our first reading, Jeremiah offers a word of hope to God's people when everything seems so lost, helpless and hopeless. In our reading, we hear the promise of hope, the promise of a new day. In our reading from Luke, Jesus speaks of destruction but offers the promise of hope. Even as there is destruction, there is new life emerging, there is always the promise of hope. What hope are you longing for yourself? For others? For the world? Where might you see new life emerging?
Blessings on your Friday and weekend. See you Sunday.
Sunday, November 25, 2018
Friday greetings. I hope you are well and that your week has been one of thanksgiving as you prepare to relax into the weekend.
This Sunday we are called to worship - 9:30 a.m. at St. James and 11 a.m. at Trinity. You will find a warm welcome and wonderful people.
This Sunday is Reign of Christ Sunday and marks the last Sunday of the church "Year B." It is like New Year's Eve - seeing the current year out and welcoming the New Year - "Year C." As you can see, the church operates on a different calendar than the world. This is all to say as this is the last Sunday of this church year - there may be some noise as we prepare to ring in the new year and begin our journey to the manger of Bethlehem next Sunday.
Our readings are from 2 Samuel, Chapter 23, verses 1 through 7 and the Gospel of John, Chapter 18, verses 33 through 37. In 2 Samuel, we have the final words of David who gives witness to God favouring those who rule justly. In our reading from the Gospel of John, we encounter a text that we usually hear during Lent. This passage opens the trial of Jesus before Pilate, Rome's governor in Judea, who ruled on the emperor's behalf and who commanded Rome's troops in Judea. Pilate sits in judgment as the agent of Roman power. Pilate is told that Jesus is a criminal and a more serious allegation is made that Jesus is a king and therefore, a threat to the powers of the day. Let us explore God's Living Words for us this Sunday: Reign of Christ Sunday.
My sermon is titled "Thy Kingdom Come. When God? When?" We pray "Thy Kingdom Come" every Sunday during our prayers of the people. When might God's Kingdom, when might the Reign of Christ - one of justice, love, peace and mercy arrive?
And you won't want to miss next Sunday, December 2!
See you Sunday. Have a blessed and relaxed weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, November 18, 2018
Good morning. Ice forming on creeks and the Rideau River. Boats wrapped in protective plastic. Snow fences up. Cross country skis dug out and ready to take one into the woods. Winter coats, boots, mitts and scarves at the ready. And, the snow, gently falling and wrapping up God's creation in a beautiful and protective blanket. I do believe a time of winter sabbath, for creation in our part of the world, is underway. But we trust it shall give way to life anew (in due time of course). This is all to say, you can't change the weather, but you can enjoy it by sitting at a window and looking out or getting outside for a walk to admire the beauty all around us. However you spend this day, may you give thanks for God's beautiful creation.
We are called together to offer our worship and thanksgiving this Sunday: St. James at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. We are called into community and relationship with one another and with God. In our singing, reading, praying and learning together we will offer God our thanksgiving and our longings. Please join us.
Our Scripture readings this Sunday are Psalm 16 and the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 13, verses 1 through 8. Psalm 16 speaks of faithfully resting in God, confident that God is present with us. In God's presence, we have faith that we shall be able to ensure the challenges of life. In faith, we find the path of life to walk with God through those challenges. This week's Gospel reading concludes our year-long journey through Mark as a whole. Our reading from Mark can be a bit daunting to understand. It is considered an apocalyptic text as it describes something that is to happen - disaster and destruction, of things coming undone, of the end of time. To focus on the end of time misses the point Jesus teaches: in the midst of suffering, upheaval and birth pangs, re-birth to new life and hope are always the ways of God. Might we gather together this Sunday to hear God's Living Words for us this day?
Trinity United is host venue tonight - Friday, November 16 for "Valley Songwriters Circle with John Allaire and Special Guests." "Bringing together the best of the three local river valleys this evening is a celebration of songwriting. Songwriters move us, and this trio of storytellers are bound to catch your attention." Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. For more information and/or tickets, click here.
Blessings on your Friday and weekend. See you soon.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, November 11, 2018
Friday greetings to you. I trust that you have had a fine week and that you have a weekend of relaxing.
This Sunday we gather for worship, St. James at 9:30 a.m., Trinity at 11 a.m. In our singing, learning, praying, listening and more, we shall offer our worship and thanksgiving to God.
Our Scripture readings are from the Book of Ruth, Chapter 3, verses 1 through 5 and Chapter 4, verses 13 through 17 and the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 12, verses 38 through 44. In our reading from the Book of Ruth, we hear how Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law, seeks security and life for Naomi. In our Gospel reading, Jesus is very direct in his criticism of the temple authorities and lifts up the offering a poor widow gives. The Gospel reading is harsh and challenging to read and to hear. Sometimes Jesus is like that. From time to time we are meant to be "disturbed" by his teachings.
Note: there is no Sunday School at Trinity this Sunday but do know children are welcome!
A few reminders:
Blessings on your Friday and weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, November 4, 2018
Friday greetings to you. It is a new month in which we have the promise of every day being one of memory-making and giving thanks. May it be so in your life and the lives of your loved ones.
This Sunday we gather for Joint Worship at St. James, 9:30 a.m., for our Remembrance Sunday service. You may be wondering, why are we having Remembrance Sunday this Sunday, rather than Sunday, November 11 (Remembrance Day)? It is due to a number of Cenotaph Remembrance services taking place this Sunday, including my having to be present as the representative of our Churches at the Kars Cenotaph Remembrance service at 11:15 this Sunday. As well, we know a number of our members desire to be present downtown at the National War Memorial Remembrance service on November 11. Please join together in community this Sunday to Remember. We shall remember in our prayers, candlelighting, singing, readings, wreath laying, listening and so much more including the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
Our Scripture reading this Sunday is from the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 12, verses 28 thru 34. Jesus is asked "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" And, Jesus replies, "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." This is an especially fitting scripture reading for Remembrance Sunday as we long to hear a word of love for us when we our lives seem broken; when our world some times seems broken. Let us gather to Remember and to hear God's living words for us this Sunday.
Two special announcements related to this Sunday, November 4:
Blessings on your Friday and weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Greetings. It is a beautiful day as God's creation continues to move into a time of Sabbath rest. The land is seeing its final harvest and the earth prepared for a time of Sabbath rest. Trees continue to drop their leaves as they too prepare for rest. As I've said before, it is a beautiful time of year.
This Sunday we gather to worship at St. James at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. And, at Trinity we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and welcome Madelyn Carynne Arnold into our faith community.
Our Scripture readings this Sunday are from the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 31, verses 7 through 9 and the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10, verses 46 through 52. You will hopefully remember who Jeremiah is from words I spoke back in March. "Jeremiah was a rather gruff fellow. At times, he walked around naked, he smashed clay pots to pieces to illustrate to the people what God is going to do to them. He tried everything he could think of, yelling and screaming, to get people's attention. But nothing he says or does works. The people do not listen to him. They get driven out of their homeland and into exile in Babylon. And Jeremiah, the prophet of doom and gloom, tags along to bring courage and hope." Our reading from Jeremiah is only a small excerpt - but the focus of the reading is the promise of hope - that the people will have a new relationship with God. God has never abandoned them and through Jeremiah, God promises them a new beginning. We continue our reading from the Gospel of Mark which we began in February (and will end November 18). In our reading this Sunday, we hear an account of the final healing Jesus gives in the Gospel of Mark. It is the healing of the blind beggar Bartimaeus who asked Jesus to restore his sight. There is wonderful imagery in our gospel reading which influenced my sermon title "We come. We come just as we are." Might we gather together on Sunday to hear God's living words for us?
For the church geeks among us, I share that the remits that were approved by pastoral charges, presbyteries and the General Council continue to take concrete form as the overall church is restructured. Did you know that The United Church of Canada formally came into being via an act of incorporation passed by the Parliament of Canada back in 1924 (although the Church itself was not formally instituted until 1925)? To implement the remits and restructure the church requires that The United Church have a bill introduced in Parliament. On October 17, a bill was brought forward in the Senate to make the required changes to the church. If passed by the Senate it will then move on the House of Commons for discussion, study and vote. Might you be surprised that to restructure our church requires a bill to be passed by Parliament? Some indeed are.
Do note if you will not be at worship this Sunday, October 28 that worship the following Sunday (November 4) is our Remembrance Sunday joint worship service (with Sacrament of Holy Communion) at St. James at 9:30 a.m. It will be followed by gathering with the wider community at the Kars Cenotaph for a time of Remembrance at 11:15 a.m.
Blessings on your day and weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, October 21, 2018
Happy Friday to you. It is an absolutely gorgeous Autumn day. The leaves on the trees facing the church office are still mostly green but there are many that have turned to a beautiful red. Autumn is a most beautiful time of the year. I hope you've had a week for which you can give God your thanks.
This Sunday at worship will include some singing, some praying, some listening, some learning and some preaching. And, mixed in among all that shall be some barking, meowing, squeaking and other wonderful noises including some laughter and expressions of joy. It is Blessing of Our Pets Sunday and you are invited to bring your pets, your teddy bears, photos of pets, your hearts and your lives as we give thanks for all people, all creatures, all pets that give us love and life. All are welcome! Come and let us enjoy and celebrate God's beautiful creation together.
Our Scripture readings this Sunday are from the Book of Job, Chapter 38, verses 1 through 7 and the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10, verses 35 through 45. In our reading from the Book of Job, Job has been pleading with God to please answer him. Last week we heard that Job was wondering if maybe God had possibly forgotten him. Impossible. In our reading from Job this Sunday, God responds to Job's pleading with a series of questions - reminding Job who God is. In our Gospel reading, we hear two disciples approach Jesus wanting to sit - one at his right hand and the other at his left hand. This causes an argument among the other 10. Whether they are mad at the first 2 for beating them to the request made of Jesus we don't know. But sometimes, competition among people can lead to negative consequences. Jesus came to serve others. The disciples were called to serve Jesus. We are called to serve Jesus in building God's kingdom on earth. I am reflecting upon how we serve Jesus in the world. Specifically, if we were to look in the mirror, would we be happy with what we see?
Let us join together this Sunday in community to celebrate the love of our pets and teddy bears and to hear God's Living Words for us.
Blessings on your weekend wherever you may be.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, October 14, 2018
Good morning. This Sunday we gather to celebrate the 108th Anniversary of the St. James faith community serving Christ in the world. In our singing, our prayers and our words, we will give our thanks as we celebrate.
Do note worship this Sunday is Joint Worship at St. James, Osgoode, 9:30 a.m. A time of refreshments, light snacks and fellowship will take place after worship. Please join together this Sunday to give thanks.
Guest co-worship leader and preacher this Sunday is Ms. Patricia Power, a student studying for ministry in The United Church of Canada. I look forward to co-leading with her.
Our Scripture readings are from the Book of Job, Chapter 23, verses 1 thru 9 & 16 thru 17 and the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10, verses 17 thru 31.
Wherever you may be this fine Autumn weekend, may you take in the beauty of creation at this time of year.
P.S. Breakfast? Saturday? As in tomorrow? St. James is hosting their Healthy Community Breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. Lots of great food, delicious treats and wonderful people. Come on out. Free-will offering. All are welcome!
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, October 7, 2018
Good morning. The geese are singing and on the move and leaves are beginning to transition to beautiful reds, yellows and oranges. All is beautiful this season of Autumn and I hope you are enjoying it wherever you are.
This Sunday is not only Thanksgiving Sunday but also World Communion Sunday. We join together with countless people at countless tables around the world and celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion with one another near and far. I look forward to seeing younger ones who, hopefully, are taking a break from sports on Sunday morning; our young adults who are taking a break from studies and returning home from university or college to be fed and loved; and, older folks who we've not seen for a bit. Might we join together this Sunday to feast at God's table and to give our thanksgiving for the blessings we have? All are welcome.
Our Scripture readings this Sunday are from the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, verses 21 through 27 and the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6, verses 25 through 34. Both readings speak of the blessings of God even as we may worry about life.
A couple of announcements not included in the attached weekly announcements.
I look forward to being with you this Thanksgiving Sunday. If you are travelling over this long weekend, may you safely arrive at your destination and safely return home to be among us soon.
Happy Thanksgiving and Thanks Living to you. God Bless you.
P.S. I cannot resist sharing some Thanksgiving smiles. "Who is not hungry at Thanksgiving? The turkey because he's already stuffed!" "Knock Knock. Who's there? Norma Lee. Norma Lee who? Norma Lee I don't eat this much!" And, if you're thinking, "Rev. Grant, stop telling corny Thanksgiving jokes." I can't quit "cold turkey." Groan, groan, groan. But you must admit, you cracked a bit of a smile. Surely you did.
Sunday, September 30, 2018
Good day. We have moved into Autumn and are on the cusp of a new month. I do hope you're able to get out and enjoy the beauty of God's creation this time of year. The birds are still singing, the sun is shining, crops are being harvested and there is so much that is good in our world and in our lives. Take time to stop, to listen, to give thanks.
Note that we worship at St. James at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m.
Scripture readings this Sunday are from the Book of Esther, Chapter 7, verse 1 through 6, verse 9 through 10 and Chapter 9, verse 20 through 22 and the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 9, verse 38 through 50.
It is not often that we hear a reading from Esther as part of the 3-years cycle of readings from the bible. In fact, I can only see one instance where we hear from the Book of Esther every 3-years. This is a powerful reading about a woman by the name of Esther who "shows great courage and fortitude in overcoming the social and political roadblocks (stumbling blocks) to saving her people and her integrity as part of her community." I am positive we can point to many, many women today who are like Esther. Our reading of the Gospel of Mark may leave you scratching your head. It is a text about "who is in, who is out." My sermon theme this Sunday is tied to the Gospel text and is titled "Sometimes We Stumble." Oh how we stumble in so many different ways. But while we may stumble, we are healed to holy paths as we journey with Jesus. Might we gather together this Sunday to explore God's Living Words for us? All are welcome.
Blessings on your day and weekend. And for those going to the 162nd Annual Metcalfe Fair this weekend, may you have much fun and some cotton candy! -- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, September 23, 2018
This Sunday is Welcome Back Sunday. I am back and shall lead worship this Sunday. I hope to see you back as well. Do know I missed you and am happy to be back among you. To all who led worship, offered pastoral care, provided music, volunteered at Vacation Bible School, picked up and responded to the mail, voice mails and emails; kept our faith community informed and so much more during my time of Sabbath rest my thanks, and the collective thanks of all OKPC members is extended to you as well.
Since my return, I have noticed some changes in the Osgoode-Kars area. One day there are corn stalks in the field as far as the eye can see. Next day, they are gone. Where there used to be a gravel road (and much dust!), voila, it is now a tar and gravel road save for a short section. I also noticed that a formerly octagon house is no more. It's gone and a new house is being framed in its place. Some people have started school for the first time or a new school; others have moved - both near and further afield. Some have had a summer of joy while others have mourned. So much has happened over the summer in both our communities and our lives. I look forward to hearing about your summer of Sabbath rest and being together in community once again. Let's worship together this Welcome Back Sunday.
Please note that we move to regular worship times this Sunday: St. James worships at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity worships at 11 a.m.
Scripture readings this Sunday are Psalm 1, verse 1 through 6 and the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 9, verse 30 through 37. Our Psalm reading calls us to walk in the ways of God. In doing so we have abundant life even with the challenges we sometimes face. In our Gospel reading, Jesus teaches again what it means to follow him in life and uses the word "greatest." What does the word great mean to you? If we look south of our border, the word great has taken on a particular meaning. How might Jesus mean for us to understand and live out the word "great" today? Let's explore together.
A special note for Trinity parents. While we plan to offer Sunday School this Sunday, the leader has been under the weather but does hope to be present to teach. Please encourage your children to attend church this Sunday.
Blessings on your day and weekend. -- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, June 10, 2018
And a beautiful Friday morning to you (or afternoon or evening depending on when you might be reading this note).
This will be the last "weekly" email from me for some time (surely that makes you sad but even the Rev's emails must take a Sabbath rest). Not to worry though, I have it on good authority that Joan Wyatt from your OKPC Joint Worship Committee will be sending out worship notes throughout the summer. Do read those so that you remain connected to our faith communities even as you too take Sabbath rest. You may also get an email from your Joint Board Chair Heather Renton at some point looking for folks to help with Community Vacation Bible School (VBS). VBS is brought to you by your local United, Presbyterian and Anglican Churches and takes place at St. James United Osgoode, August 13 thru 17 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. each day. We are the lead organizers this year and I ask that you help Heather as you can. If you have kids between the ages of 4 and 11 who want to attend, speak with Heather about registration. And, if you have teens looking to accumulate school "volunteer" hours - Heather is the person who can make that happen. There is no cost to attend VBS.
This Sunday, we are called to gather for Joint Worship at Trinity, Kars at 9:30 to give thanks to God as we Celebrate the 156th Anniversary of Trinity United's faith community. Come and fill every pew of the church at Trinity this Sunday as we join together for our Anniversary service. This might just be the Sunday where it matters that you come early to get not the last pew, but any pew. Worship is co-shared between Kathryn Holman and Rev. Carolyn Insley of the North Gower Pastoral Charge (comprising North Gower United and Carsonby United churches). The congregations of North Gower and Carsonby will be present as we welcome our second refugee family who will be with us this Sunday: Aziz, Mayada, Roha, Mohammad, Abdullah and Omar. With OKPC, the North Gower and Carsonby United Churches were very active partners in setting up the apartments for both Aziz and his cousin Waseem (who arrived last November). This Sunday is an opportunity for us to join together as people of God to thank everyone involved for sharing their gifts of time and so much more in opening our doors and welcoming new friends. Following worship, there will be a standing reception downstairs in the church hall with light refreshments. Let us join together this Sunday to offer God our worship, to mingle with our friends from North Gower-Carsonby and to chat with Aziz, Mayada, Roha, Mohammad, Abdullah and Omar.
And I would be remiss not to mention that St. James is hosting the last Community Breakfast before it too takes a Sabbath rest for the summer months. Tomorrow - Saturday - at St. James from 8 thru 10 a.m. come and eat, laugh, spend time with friends and family and begin practising your Sabbath rest. We promise if you have mastered Sabbath rest and fall asleep at the table, we'll not wake you up unless (a) you are drooling; (b) we need you to get up and go as there may be 10 other people waiting for your seat. Free will offering, come as you are!
Blessings on your Friday, your weekend and your time of Sabbath rest. May your rest have moments, hours and days of laughter as you give thanks for the amazing beauty and food of God's good creation.
Until we meet again, may you know you are held in my prayers and are held, always and forever, in the loving embrace of God.
Love, Rev. Grant
Sunday, June 3, 2018
Good morning. It is another beautiful day in God's good creation.
This Sunday we gather to give God our worship and our thanksgiving in our words, our prayers, singing and learning together. Trinity gathers at 9:30 a.m. and St. James at 11 a.m.
Trinity worship will be abbreviated somewhat to allow sufficient time for the congregational meeting to occur immediately following worship. For Trinity members, please check your in-box for material related to the meeting. Please attend and do note an activity will be in place for children. St. James worship will be a regular service. Both services include the "Sacrament of Holy Communion for a time of Sabbath Rest." This will be the last Holy Communion until world-wide Communion in October. Do come to feast at God's table.
Scripture readings for this Sunday are from 1 Samuel and the Gospel of Mark.
Our first reading is from 1 Samuel, Chapter 3, verses 1 through 10. In this reading, Samuel is called by God to go out into the world to work with God, building a kingdom of justice, love and compassion. Our second reading is from the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 2, verse 23 through Chapter 3, verse 6. In this reading we hear that Jesus' disciples were seen working on the Sabbath and Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. Jesus is rebuked by the religious authorities for acting against the "law." Jesus in turn challenges the authorities saying their understanding of the law is too narrow and restrictive. He calls them to live by the heart and not by the letter of the law. Jesus calls them to a life of love and compassion regardless of the day of week. This second reading will only be heard at St. James as Trinity service will be abbreviated.
And, one final note from me. This is my last Sunday in the pulpit until late September. As you know, OKPC adopted a 3/4 time ministry model in 2017 and we are now in the second year of it. The way it works is: I am present full-time mid-September thru mid-June (or thereabouts) and then I disappear (I will leave at end of day, June 8). I do hope to see you this Sunday to offer you my blessings for a Summer of Sabbath rest. If not, do know I will hold you in my prayers until we see one another again.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, May 27, 2018
What a beautiful week it has been, is and will continue to be. And, might I just say, what a lovely welcoming for Carter Robertson who was baptized at St. James last Sunday. It was wonderful to see a full church and a very blessed and warm welcome extended to Carter, his family and his many loving friends.
This Sunday we gather at worship - Trinity at 9:30 a.m. and St. James at 11 a.m.
Our scripture readings this Sunday are from Isaiah, Chapter 6, verses 1 thru 8 and the Gospel of John, Chapter 3, verses 1 thru 17. In our readings we hear "call stories." Isaiah is called by God. Nicodemus is called by Jesus to a new way of living. Questions to ponder: how might we have heard God calling to us in the past; how might we hear God calling to us today to go into the world to share God's love with others?
Let us gather together in community this Sunday.
And, a special note for Trinity folks. This is the last occurrence of Sunday School until the Fall. To celebrate the end of "school" there will be an early lunch following worship. Barbecued burgers, hot dogs, salads, refreshments and a time of being together. You need not bring anything but yourself. And, there is no cost. Hope to see you there.
Blessings on your Friday and weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, May 20, 2018
A beautiful day it is. Fields are being plowed in preparation for seeding. The lilacs are bursting forth in colour and in scent. Boats are unwrapped of their protective shrink wrap and launched once again into the Rideau. Lawns are being mowed. And bees are enjoying all those pretty little yellow flowers that go by the name of dandelions that bring dots of beauty to your lawn. Those flowers which some think of as weeds are truly important to a sadly declining bee population. See this news story from the Weather Network. Click here. Oh Spring, such a wonderful time of the year.
We gather at worship this Sunday, on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit of the Living God came to live within and among us. Trinity, Kars worships at 9:30 a.m. and St. James, Osgoode, worships at 11 a.m.
Our Scripture readings this Sunday are from the Book of Acts, Chapter 2, verses 1 thru 21 and the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, verses 26 and 27 and Chapter 16, verses 4b through 15. Might we gather at worship this Sunday to hear God's Living Words for us?
And a very special welcome to Carter Jack Robertson who is held in prayer and love as he is baptized into the St. James community of faith on Sunday. Carter is the son of Courtney and Kyle Robertson of Osgoode and the great-grandson of Lois and Vern Flake - long-time members of St. James. Let us warmly welcome all those who gather in community this Sunday for Carter's baptism.
Wherever you may be or go this long weekend, do take time to give thanks to God for the holy ground that you walk upon and which blesses us with so much beauty at this time of year.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, May 13, 2018
And a beautiful Friday of Spring to you wherever you may be. Spring: glorious, beautiful, fragrant, the season of new life and my favourite time of the year.
May I share with you that my email note of last Friday certainly brought forth a flood (okay, maybe not a flood but certainly more than a trickle) of replies. Five of them! Most ever. Thank you for showing me that my weekly email is read. And, on that note, and to stem another flood of replies, I won't say a word about having seen an advertisement this week suggesting that you buy your Mom the Best Mother's Day Gift Ever - the gift being an electric toothbrush! Don't. Do. It. Just. Don't. Do. It. Trust me. Thank me.
We gather in community this Sunday (Trinity at 9:30 and St. James at 11 a.m.) to celebrate the Seventh Sunday of Easter in our words, prayers and music as we hear God's Living Words for us. Our scripture readings are from the Book of Acts, Chapter 1, verses 15 through 17 and 21 through 26. Our Gospel reading is from John, Chapter 17, verses 6 through 19. The reading from Acts focuses on the choosing of a disciple to replace Judas (the disciple who betrayed Jesus). In our reading from John, we hear Jesus pray for his disciples before sending them our into the world in ministry.
A couple of thoughts sit with me as I reflect on these texts. One relates to the two people who were considered as worthy of addition as one of Jesus' 12 disciples. The reading from Acts says the two were named "Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias." Beyond their names, we know nothing about them. They are named in our Acts reading and then disappear - as if they were not important at all. My second thought relates to the Gospel reading. As Jesus prays for his disciples, his prayer also calls them out into the world in ministry, in witness to the compassion and love of Jesus, of God, of all that is holy. We may often think we are not all that important in the big scheme of things - that our lives are too small. But, as Jesus sent the disciples into the world, are we not also called to go out into the world with the holy task of giving witness to the presence of the Living God in our world today? Let us gather together this Sunday to hear God's Living Words for us.
It is mid-morning as I prepare to hit the send button on this email and I can smell pies baking in the kitchen oven of St. James so, of course, my mind turns to food. Go figure. And food makes me think of tomorrow morning - Saturday May 12! Well, well, well. Tomorrow, roll out of bed, get dressed, fix your hair, brush your teeth and head on over to St. James United in Osgoode. Why? Because there will be food. St. James hosts their monthly community breakfast this Saturday - as in tomorrow. From 8 thru 10 a.m. eat, laugh, and enjoy community-making. All are welcome. Free-will offering. And just between you and me and a hundred or so other readers - not only is there breakfast but there will also be homemade pies and buns for sale. Pies and buns sell out right quick. So, upon arrival at St. James on Saturday morning, go upstairs first, purchase your pies and buns and then head on downstairs to breakfast. Remember, this last bit is an insiders tip just between you and me!
Have a most blessed day and weekend.
P.S. An early Happy Mother's Day blessing to all who mother, nurture, offer compassion, love without condition, teach and so much more.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, May 6, 2018
Greetings on this fourth day of May. New life continues to emerge wherever we look.
Sometimes I come across something in print and have to ask (as I did of Roger on Wednesday morning this week), just what were they thinking as I perused the sales flyers included in the Ottawa Citizen.
Just what were they thinking? I speak of a washer and dryer for sale that apparently comes with WiFi. It is billed as offering the ability to control your washer and dryer from the ease of your cell phone wherever you are! Really? Me thinks if you are loading the washer and dryer you are standing in front of said machines and can control them. So why does one need WiFi to control them remotely? It's not as if you can remotely tell the machine, oops, I forgot to throw this item of clothing in - can you - machine - do that for me. Nope. Not going to happen! I shake my head at the invention or use of technology for no discernible reason. Now, if they offered technology that is capable of (a) picking up dirty clothes from the floor; (b) putting said clothes in laundry hamper; (c) taking said clothes and putting them in the washing machine; (d) taking them from the washing machine and placing them in the dryer; (e) taking them from the dryer and folding them; (e) taking them upstairs and putting them away. Well, then sign me up. Me thinks this will not be happening in my lifetime. So, I will continue to be a Luddite in doing my laundry without the advantage of WiFi.
This Sunday we gather at worship to sing, pray, and hear God's Living Words for us and celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion at Trinity (9:30 a.m.) and St. James (11 a.m.). Please join us.
Scripture readings for this the Sixth Sunday of Easter are from the Book of Acts, Chapter 10, verses 44 thru 48 and the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, verses 9 thru 17. In our Acts reading, we hear that the Spirit of the Living God falls upon all people. As the text says in verse 2, "even on the Gentiles." This would have been surprising news to the Jewish believers and followers of Jesus at that time - that God's love, God's Spirit is for ALL people, not just some.
In our reading from the Gospel of John, we hear Jesus offer these words "abide in my love; this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you; no one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." As I reflect on this text, I cannot help but wonder - are there times that we should or do put boundaries on love for one another? Does our love for one another come with conditions? Does our love for another come with expectations? Let us gather in community to hear and explore God's Living Words for us this day.
A couple of special notes:
1. Trinity - Spring Clean-up at the church - Saturday (tomorrow) at 9:30 a.m. Can you come out and lend a hand? Kids most welcome too! We'll be cleaning inside and out. To keep you nourished there will be coffee/tea and muffins. Many hands make light work!!! 2. St. James is hosting a Royal Tea this Sunday afternoon from 2 to 4 in the church hall to celebrate the upcoming Royal Wedding. Fancy sandwiches, sweets and tea. All welcome. $5 at the door. Hats and gloves are recommended.
Have a wonderful and blessed weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Good day to you.
I have been struggling to find the right words to share given the tragic events that unfolded in Toronto this past Monday. In the face of overwhelming evil, sometimes there are no words, just a time of silence and prayer. Prayers of lament for others, for ourselves, for the world.
We have no idea what motivated the young man to commit such horrific evil on Monday. It is not for us to judge although many in the media and wider society are certainly doing that. It is for us to pray for peace and healing. It is for us to pray for peace for those who mourn. It is for us to pray for healing for all those directly and indirectly affected. Might we do that? I agree with the words another United Church minister wrote about the tragic events in Toronto: "no one welcomes a child into this world with anything less than hopes and dreams; that parents long to be the defenders against nightmares, not witnesses to their child's destruction." Might we also pray for the family of the one who has been charged with committing this evil? Might we also pray for the one who has been charged? My faith tells me as a follower of Jesus to hold up others in prayer. My faith also tells me as a follower of Jesus that I am called to extend love, compassion and mercy to everyone - especially those who feel they are unworthy of love, of peace, of compassion.
This Sunday as we gather at worship we read from the Book of Acts and the Gospel of John.
Our first reading is from the Book of Acts, Chapter 8, verses 26 through 40. In this reading, we hear of Philip's meeting with a eunuch (a man who has been castrated). He is seen as not whole, as unclean and is thus unable to fully participate in the worshipping life of his community. Even so, he continues his quest to be included by reading the Sacred Scriptures. Philip meets him as he is and and baptizes and welcomes the eunuch in the name of Jesus. As the eunuch is welcomed by Jesus, we too are welcomed by Jesus just as we are.
Our Gospel text comes from the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, verses 1 through 8. As I reflect on what happened in Toronto this past Monday, I lift up verse 4a "Abide in me as I abide in you." If Jesus abides in us, and we abide in Jesus, what is our call in life? Is it to judge others? Or is it to pray for healing, for peace, for inclusion of all, for love to triumph. Just some random thoughts early on Friday afternoon.
Let us gather on Sunday at Trinity, 9:30 a.m. and St. James at 11 a.m.
May you have a good day and weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, April 22, 2018
A beautiful, sunny greeting to you on this wonderful Friday for the ice of Sunday and Monday is but a memory. The birds are singing, and the tulips, daffodils and crocuses (or croci) are emerging from God's good earth. There is new life wherever we look this Season of Easter!
Have you ever had the experience of having a very full week, of being tired but so thankful for the week that was? That was and is my week (thus far).
This week has been one of evening board meetings (Trinity on Tuesday, St. James on Wednesday and Joint Board on Thursday) in which there was lively conversation, food(!) and laughter as your board members gave of their time to undertake the work of your community of faith. There should be a "Thank a Board Member Day" for all that our board members do on our behalf. Then again, every day should be a day of expressing thanks to one another for all that we do together for God's church. Between board meetings, planning Sunday worship, leading joyful worship at the Osgoode Care Centre and the Dr. Dowd apartments, my week, among many other things, also included three visits with family members preparing to say their final good-byes to loved ones.
For two of the families, my visits related to planning the interment of the ashes of the deceased whose funerals took place late-winter. My visits were a time of remembering, of planning, of continuing to offer pastoral care and being the presence of the Holy to people as they prepare to say their final goodbye.
My third visit was to meet with one of five daughters of a woman who died in March who has journeyed to the mystery of life beyond this life. We gathered to plan a funeral service in the coming weeks for a beloved Mom, grandmother of 10 and great-grandmother of 11. The deceased was just shy of her 102nd birthday when she died to this life. What a joy our time together was. It was a time of remembering, of laughter, of learning about a beautiful woman who was much loved. As we sat in her late mom's kitchen, it was as if the deceased was still present - the pantry was full and everything was in its place. Her daughter and I talked of mourning, of death, of knowing that "mom" had a great and amazing life, that she was fiercely independent and living in her home until a few days before her death and had only recently given up her driver's license. As we chatted, my eyes were drawn to the side and backyard of her home. I couldn't help but notice the signs of life emerging as we talked of death. The mock orange bushes and the lilac trees were showing signs of life - buds were emerging after a long winter of Sabbath rest. And I thought, in death there is life. There is always life emerging around us - we just need to pause and look.
I end this little reflection by adding that even as I have had a full week, even as I think of the work of your church boards, even as I think of death and the mystery of life beyond this life, I was blessed in being able to hold a beautiful baby boy, just over 3 weeks old, early Wednesday evening. What a joy to hold him and to give thanks for his life. And, as I give thanks to God for lives lived and for new life, I give thanks that you called me to minister to you, among you and the wider community. This week, though long, has been a blessing. I am blessed and I give thanks to each of you and to God for a wonderful week of ministry.
This Sunday we gather together at Trinity (9:30 a.m.) and St. James (11 a.m.) to sing, pray, learn and listen for God's Living Words for us this day. Our scripture reads are Psalm 23 and the Gospel of John, Chapter 10:11-18.
Psalm 23 is well-known by Christians and non-Christians alike. The Psalm speaks of God as Shepherd and expresses the writer's confidence in God's presence and steadfast love. The Gospel reading also includes the "shepherd" theme with Jesus being the Good Shepherd - the one who cares for, loves and protects us. What might it mean for us to say that Jesus is our Good Shepherd when there are so many people in our world, so many things in our world that claim they are the "Good Shepherd?" Might we gather to explore God's Living Words for us on Sunday as we give God our thanksgiving.
Have a wonderful day and weekend. See you Sunday.
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Good day to you wherever you may be, whatever you may be up to. I write to share great joy.
(1) Today is the 25th day of Spring. Woo-hoo! And if that doesn't knock your socks off....
(2) The Summer Solstice (known informally as the "longest day of the year" with 15 hours, 40 minutes and 23 seconds of sunlight to be exact) is only 69 days away. That calls for a double Woo-hoo! So, join me: Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!
My call to you is two-fold:
1. Keep points 1 and 2 above in mind given the weather forecast for this weekend. If you must blame someone for a less than spring-like weekend, please blame me as I thought, beat the rush and line-up, get the winter tires off the car (as I did last Monday)! Silly me! 2. Regardless of the weather this weekend, might we join together in the warmth of community on Sunday at worship?
This Sunday is the Third Sunday of Easter and we gather as a community of faith at Trinity, 9:30 a.m. and at St. James, 11 a.m. We gather to sing our faith, listen to God's living words for us, pray, be with one another and to continue our Celebration of Easter for we are People of the Resurrection.
In our reading from Acts, we hear Peter telling the story of Jesus' crucifixion. He calls for the people to change their ways and re-turn to God for forgiveness; for peace and healing. Peter states that in Jesus the Christ, the love that is peace and healing, forgiveness and grace, has come to life.
Last week in our Gospel reading from John, the disciples needed to see proof, demanded proof, that the person standing among them was in fact Jesus. In this Sunday's reading from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus, unprompted, with no questions asked, offers proof that he is indeed with them. While the disciples struggle to believe, they are also joyful.
Might we gather together this Sunday to share the warmth of our faith and to learn, sing and give God our thanksgiving? And, as you are able, might you contribute a food item for the Enniskerry Foodbank or North Gower Food Cupboard this Sunday?
Have a wonderful weekend. See you Sunday.
P.S. Saturday morning - that's tomorrow - is coming right quick. You shall wake up. You shall think - I need coffee, I need tea, I need a good, healthy breakfast to tackle my Saturday chores. Well, well, well...I've got a great idea for you. Roll out of bed, get dressed, fix your hair, brush your teeth and get over to St. James for their healthy, scrumptious breakfast. From 8 to 10 a.m. there shall be fine food, hot beverages, great people, laughter and witty conversation. Bring your friends and family. Free-will offering.
Sunday, April 8, 2018
Greetings on this beautiful day. It may snow a bit and it may be colder than we want but know this: it the season of Easter. In our lives and the awakening earth, there is the promise of new life for we are people of the resurrection.
We gather to give God our worship this Sunday (Trinity at 9:30 a.m.; St. James at 11 a.m.). It is the Second Sunday of Easter and there shall be surprises (but sadly, no confetti canons - you had to be there on Easter Sunday to experience the wonderful, joyful and raucous noise of Resurrection).
Have an amazing day and enjoy the weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, April 1, 2018
Holy Week greetings. This is an early weekly email.
It is Holy Week, the holiest time of the year for people around the world of Christian faith. I write to share that there are a number of services taking place in the Pastoral Charge this week and invite you to participate as you are able. Invite your family and friends to join you. And, if I might, to those we do not see regularly, come. Come just as you are and bring with you your younger ones, older ones, boisterous ones and quiet ones (and those in between) to worship, listen, pray and give thanks as we journey together to new life on Easter Sunday.
Thursday, March 29: we hold a Maundy Thursday Joint service, 6:30 p.m. at St. James. In our reading together from Chapter 13 of the Gospel of John, this service marks three events in Jesus' last night before he is handed over to be crucified: his washing of his disciples' feet, his commandment to love one another as he loves us and his call to us when we celebrate Holy Communion to "When you do this, Remember Me." Among our readings from the Gospel of John are short meditations, sacred music (definitely not music you are used to at Sunday worship), extinguishing of candles, symbolically washing of hands (rather than feet) and the Sacrament of Holy Communion as we follow the teaching of Jesus to serve one another. Feel free to come early on Thursday evening to rest, reflect and pray as sacred Taizé music will be playing prior to the beginning of our service. (If you are not familiar with Taizé music, click here for samples).
Good Friday, March 30: we gather with our Anglican and Presbyterian friends at 10 a.m. at St. James for our Ecumenical Good Friday Service and walk with the cross. In scripture readings, meditations, prayers and hymns, we mark the last day of Jesus' life. Worship starts at St. James and then, as we are able, we walk with and carry the cross for a time of worship at the Osgoode Peace Park and then proceed to the O-YA Centre. We finish our Good Friday worship at St. Paul's Anglican.
Easter Sunday, April 1: The first service of Easter Sunday is an intimate Easter sunrise service. We gather at the Osgoode Peace Park at 7:30 a.m. followed by a light breakfast at St. James. Our Joyful Easter Celebration of "There are Alleluias in the Air! Christ is Risen!" takes place at Trinity (9:30 a.m) and St. James (11 a.m.). Be prepared to sing, shout Alleluias, enjoy laughter and celebrate. Both Trinity and St. James Easter services include the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Let us join together as the Body of Christ to give God our thanks as people of the Resurrection and then go out to live lives of Resurrection, looking for and practising Resurrection wherever we may go.
See you once, twice or many times this week. The Road to Jerusalem is far richer, less lonely and more beautiful when we travel together.
Holy week blessings,
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, March 25, 2018
We gather at worship thisSunday (Trinity at 9:30 and St. James at 11) and in Word, prayer and hymns, we read, hear and live again the Palm-Passion Story. Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week and our scripture readings come from the Gospel of Mark. We will hear of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and move through our sacred story to his Crucifixion on the cross. Many of us do not make it out to our Ecumenical Good Friday service so on Palm-Passion Sunday we hear the story again to keep God's story, our story, alive in our hearts and spirits as we journey together to Easter.
For Trinity folks - please note Sunday school begins at the start of worship thisSunday. If your kids are attending, they are to head directly downstairs at the beginning of worship.
There are a number of worship services planned for the Pastoral Charge this coming Holy Week. They are listed in the attached flyer. I ask that you print the flyer and share it via email with friends and family inviting them to join you. I hope to see you participate as you are able.
Now I could and maybe should end this weekly message here, but the Rev. Grant has got a rant that has been developing since Tuesday of this week. So, here goes:
I want to run away. If you've got a piece of land for sale - say, 100 miles x 100 miles in size, drop me a line. Or, if you have a roof rack, an unused kayak and a desert island, I am your guy to take those off your hands.
You see, I think a lot about things.
For example, I think about: worship, the state of the Church (including our two little churches), how the people of OKPC are getting on, Lent, Holy Week, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and how we encounter the Holy One, God, every day of our lives and how we continue to contribute to the on-going Crucifixion of Jesus by our words or actions or lack thereof. Sometimes my heart and head hurt from all that thinking.
Given the news this week and of late about trade wars, on-going wars in faraway places, the indiscriminate killing of people simply trying to survive in places of war, homelessness, panhandling, school shootings, drive-by shootings, Facebook antics and so much more, I have thoughts of packing it in from time to time to flee to a place where there is no news coverage, no Facebook, no email, no tv, and no sales flyers to simply live in amazement and appreciation of God's good creation. What got me started on this rant was seeing a sales flyer from a major Canadian retailer that came out the middle of the week advertising "The Big Easterhunt Sale." Really, what is an Easter hunt sale? I don't think they are promoting a spiritual hunt for Jesus nor for the Holy. Rather, I am offended by this retailer who sees Easter as simply all about sales and profits.
As much as I may want to run away, I know (sadly) that is not possible nor the best option. While I don't like the news of late, I do think for Holy Week, maybe I'd be a better person if I avoided the news on the radio, in the paper, on the tv. Maybe I'd be more at peace with the world if I stayed off social media. Maybe I'd be more calm (don't worry my blood pressure is good) if for Holy Week, I simply centred myself in our sacred story in word and in music.
As much as there is so much wrong with our world, as broken as our world can be from time to time, maybe I'd do well to tune out the news and focus on the good for there is so much good. There is the compassion shared at a beloved's death; there is love shared as people happily tell how they are making out with the 40 days, 40 things Lenten challenge, there is kindness shared in those who simply go about doing the work of the church, being the Body of Christ, in our community and in our world in big ways and so many small ways. These are the important things. For Holy Week, let us live in these small moments of kingdom building as we journey to the Cross of Good Friday and the Good News of Easter Sunday.
Blessings on your weekend and see you on Sunday,
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, March 11, 2018
And a lovely Friday to you. For those on the cusp of March break, of holidays; for those looking forward to the weekend, to some down-time; for those thinking, oh rats, Friday already and longing for Monday; may this day and the weekend be one of laughter, rest, meaning, and Spirit-filled.
We gather for worship on this Fourth Sunday in Lent at Trinity at 9:30 a.m. and St. James at 11 a.m. In a time of rushing here, there and everywhere; in a time of demands, demands, demands, come and rest in the sacred space of your worship community. We shall sing, pray, continue our journey to the Cross of Good Friday, listen for God's living words for us and rest in God's love.
It is not often that I include the Psalm reading at worship. Psalm 107 is a lovely reading for it speaks to us, reminds us that God's love for each one of us is always present and everlasting. I thought of that as I stood in line at a particular drug store chain Thursday afternoon buying wee gifts for our book study. (Yes, I have been known to buy little gifts from time to time - yet another reason to join our book study.) As I placed what I wanted to purchase on the counter at the check-out, the cashier looked up at me and asked a question which I didn't hear. "Pardon me" I said. She said it again in a louder voice, "are you over 55?" I thought, how sweet of you, I love you, and said "indeed I am" (only remembering right then that Thursday is Senior's day at this particular drug store chain). And I thought to myself, I am going to get "carded" - that has not happened in, well, like forever. Me feeling so proud about my youthful looks that the cashier had to ask my age, said to the cashier, "would you like to see my id?" To which looked at me again and replied, "Sorry sir, that won't be necessary." Deflated I was and my love for her went "poof," as in gone, as into the thin air it went. My love for her may have been short-lived but God's love for me, for her, for all of us is everlasting. There is a silver lining to my first-ever 55 plus purchase - I saved 60 cents!
Our reading from the Gospel of John includes a very well known verse, John 3:16. I won't remind you what it is as I suspect you know it by heart. I still recall winning some sort of prize from being able to call it out at Vacation Bible School way, way, way back in time. Our reading is part of a larger conversation that takes place between Nicodemus, a leader in the community and Jesus.
Let's join together this Sunday to hear God's living words for us.
Weekly announcements are attached but I draw your attention to the following which are not in the print version:
1. It's Friday. That means Friday night dinner is but a few hours away. Have I got a solution to your "what shall we have for dinner woes?" Plan to dine out tonight, Friday March 9, at Trinity Kars for their Annual Chili Supper with a selection of great home made chili's and desserts. Let us feed you and do the dishes tonight. Adults $15, kids under 12 Free. From 4:30 to 6:30 tonight, Friday, March 9. Come on. You need to eat. Bring your family and friends too! Take-out also available but sadly we can't make house calls to do your Friday night dinner dishes.
2. After digesting your Friday evening meal, Saturday morning will roll around soon enough and look, you're hungry again. Well then, come on over to St. James community breakfast Saturday morning - as in tomorrow - March 10. From 8 thru 10 a.m. eat, laugh, and enjoy community-making. All are welcome. Free-will offering.
3. Last but not least. Day-light saving times begins this Sunday at 2 a.m. This Saturday night - March 10 - turn your clocks forward one hour before you go to bed. You surely do not want to be walking into church while the rest of us are leaving.
Blessings on your day,
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, March 4, 2018
Good morning to you.
This Sunday, March 4, we gather in community for Joint Worship at 11 a.m. at St. James. This is the Third Sunday in Lent and we shall sing, pray, listen and be nourished by the Sacrament of Holy Communion as we continue our Lenten journey to the cross of Good Friday and new life on Easter Sunday. Please come and gather together in community this Sunday. Do note that immediately following worship, the St. James Annual Meeting will take place downstairs in the Church Hall - there will be some "small bites" and refreshments to sustain you. More about the Annual Meeting is further below in this message.
Our Scripture readings this Sunday are from the Book of Exodus, Chapter 20 verses 1 through 17 and the Gospel of John, Chapter 2, verses 13 through 22. Our reading from Exodus includes the 10 Commandments and begins with "God spoke all these words." This reading sets out God's call for how people are to live in community, with one another, with God's creation and how we are to be God's people in the world. Our Gospel reading offers another example of a very angry Jesus (last Sunday's reading from Mark offered an instance of "angry Jesus" but we did not hear that reading as worship was cancelled due to the prolonged freezing rain, treacherous driving and dangerous, ice covered church parking lots). We don't like "angry" Jesus. But if Jesus is angry about injustice in the world, maybe we should be too if we are his followers. Together, may we wrestle with God's living words for us on Sunday.
Some thoughts to share in advance of the St. James Annual Meeting which follows worship on Sunday. I know many folks roll their eyes at the prospect of participating in the annual meeting of the church! However, this is a critical meeting that calls for your attendance, wisdom and participation in considering reports, approval of financial statements and the adoption of the budget for 2018. As you'll have read in the 2017 Annual Report circulated by email and by print, Trinity is facing some hard decisions and St. James will as well. Specifically, see the letter that accompanied the Annual Report and the Joint Board Chair's Report (pp. 4-5). Heather Renton, Joint Board Chair, plans to be present and if it is the desire of St. James meeting chair, is willing to talk about the health of Trinity United as well as the Osgoode-Kars Pastoral Charge. Bring your Annual Report with you and please take time Sunday to participate in the life of your church, the life of your pastoral charge and the life of the Body of Christ of which you are an integral member.
Blessings as you continue your Lenten journey. See you Sunday!
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, February 25, 2018
It is the ying and yang of winter. Warmish days, birds calling to one another (I so love that there are now days where birdsong can be heard once again and not just the caw caw of crows) followed by cold days, more potholes and squirrels darting here and there looking for food. May you enjoy this wonderful Friday wherever you may be.
We gather at worship this Sunday, the Second Sunday of our Lenten journey to the cross of Good Friday and new life of Easter morning. Scripture readings are from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 17, verses 1-7 and 15-16. In our reading we hear of the covenant that God makes with Abraham and Sarah and the generations to come. Our Gospel reading is from Mark, Chapter 8, verses 31-38. In our Gospel reading, Jesus predicts his suffering and death and Peter, one of Jesus' disciples expresses disappointment and wants nothing to do with it. Let us continue our Lenten journey together this Sunday. Trinity gathers at 9:30 and St. James at 11 a.m. All are welcome.
A wee note to share about Lent and the journey we are on. We began our journey on Ash Wednesday - and we shall continue our journey for 40 days and 40 nights. Last Sunday at worship, everyone was invited to participate in "40 days, 40 things" - taking on something for Lent while letting something go. There is still time for you to join in and you can get the Lenten gift given out last Sunday and instructions on what to do at worship this Sunday. This coming Tuesday, our book study on the Seven Last Words of Christ (actually, seven last sayings) kicks off with a focus on the saying of Jesus "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing." I've been spending much time over the last week, reflecting on forgiveness - what is it? Who is it for? How does it feel to receive or give to others forgiveness? There is still time to sign up for the book study, just let me know. Also, if you'd prefer to read the book at home on your own (with suggested questions to think about), I still have a few books to share. They are $20 each. Last Sunday, I also encouraged youth of both churches who have been confirmed in our faith, to dig out the lovely cross necklaces they were given at their confirmation (surely they or you know where it is) and to wear it each day of Lent. As you put it on in the morning, ask yourself, what does this cross mean to me. As you take it off at night, ask yourself the same question. This is an activity that anyone, not just youth, could participate in. Finally, Lent can be a sombre time of spiritual awareness and re-turn to God. It is a time to think about your life and where you need to re-turn to others, to Jesus, to God. Where might you need to do a bit of work to re-turn to all that is Holy?
Blessings on your day and Lenten journey wherever you may be this day and weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, February 18, 2018
And a lovely Friday to you.
We marked Ash Wednesday this week - February 14 to be exact - and have begun our Lenten journey to Jerusalem, to the Cross of Good Friday and the promise of new life on Easter Sunday. It is a 40 day journey that we are taking (actually it's 46 days but we don't count Sundays during Lent as they are seen as "little Easters.") Whether you have given something up for Lent or taken something on, may you know you do not walk alone thru the wilderness to the Cross. We all make this journey together with Jesus walking at our side.
Our scripture readings this Sunday are from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 9, verses 8 thru 17 and the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 1, verses 9 thru 15. In our first reading, we hear of God's covenant made to Noah, to all his descendants and to us. It is a covenant made by God without condition to be with God's people throughout eternity. In our reading from the Gospel, we hear once again of Jesus' baptism and how Jesus was in the wilderness, tempted by Satan.
It is a long weekend for some (at least those who do not work for the federal government) and I do hope to see you in community this Sunday as we sing, pray, listen and reflect on God's call to us as we journey to Jerusalem. Wherever you may be this weekend, may you experience much laughter and love both in the giving and receiving and take time to give thanks to God for the blessings we have. And, not to bribe you into coming to church this Sunday (grin), but, but, but....do note that there might just be a Lenten gift for everyone this Sunday. Remember last year's where I gave away money (my luck ran out - no money this year)? This is just to say, maybe you ought to take up a Lenten practice of coming to worship each Sunday of Lent. You never know what surprises might me in store.
Have a blessed weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, February 11, 2018
And a happy Friday to you.
This Sunday, February 11, we gather at Trinity for Joint Worship at 9:30 a.m. As we worship, sing, pray and give our thanks to God, we also listen for God's call to us as we undertake the annual meeting of Trinity United. Let us come together this Sunday.
For people on email, you would have received the Annual report sometime last week. Please bring a copy of the report with you - on paper or on your mobile devices, so that we may undertake the business of the church.
Our Scripture readings are fitting for an Annual Meeting and the challenges facing Trinity United and our Pastoral Charge. The first reading is from 2 Kings 2:1-12. After many years as God's agent and champion of God's ways, Elijah's life draws to a close. Our second reading is from the Gospel of Mark 9:2-9. Jesus is on a mountain top with three of his disciples. While there, they encounter Moses and Elijah. Peter longs to stay on the mountain top but they descend. Our readings make me wonder where do we choose to live - in the past, and what we recall as days of glory; or on the mountain top of despair and worry or do we want to come down the mountain as Jesus does, to live and minister among the people. Where and how should we live out our faith and proclaim the Good News this day and in the days to come? Come, let's listen, talk and explore together.
Blessings on your Friday.
A few important notes:
1. Breakfast-tomorrow-Saturday, February 10. Roll out of bed, brush your teeth and come on out to St. James community breakfast. Good food. Great conversation. Please join us from 8 thru 10 a.m.
2. Lent begins, February 14, Ash Wednesday. Please join us at one of the two services we offer Ash Wednesday - either 3 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. Both services are joint services and take place at St. James.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, February 4, 2018
It's a brand new month. Already, the second month of the year.
This Sunday we gather at Trinity at 9:30 and St. James at 11 to give our thanks to God, to learn, pray and to feast at God's table in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. All are welcome.
Our scripture readings are from Isaiah, Chapter 40, verses 21 thru 31 and the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 1, verses 29-39. In our reading from the Prophet Isaiah, written when the people were in exile, the writer speaks of the power of God. It is a reminder that no government, no person, no empire is more powerful than God who is active in all creation. In our Gospel reading, Mark continues to show that Jesus is the Messiah by telling us more about Jesus public ministry.
A couple of items of note:
1. Trinity - we do not have any one leading Sunday School this Sunday. Might someone offer to teach if children are present? Please let me know if you might.
2. The 2017 Annual Report was circulated via email yesterday (available here). Do note that next Sunday - February 11 - joint worship at 9:30 a.m. at Trinity for the Trinity Annual Meeting.
Have a great Friday and relaxing weekend. See you on Sunday.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, January 28, 2018
And a beautiful Friday afternoon to you.
This Sunday we are called to gather at Trinity (9:30 a.m.) and St. James (11 a.m.) to sing, pray, listen and hear God's living words for us and to be in relationship with one another and the Holy. Please join us.
Our Scripture readings this Sunday are from the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 18, verses 15 thru 20 and the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 1, verses 21 thru 28.
In our first reading, we hear a "sermon" from Moses to the people as they prepared to enter the promised land. In our reading the people hear how to know God's will in the face of an uncertain future. They are promised a prophet, a human, who God will inspire and through whom God will speak and act. In our second reading, the Gospel writer shares with us the early days of Jesus' ministry. In our reading we hear of the first miracle Jesus undertook while teaching in the Synagogue. In the coming weeks we will hear of more miracles of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. For Mark, Jesus' miracles go hand in hand with his teachings. While we are drawn to the miracle story in this reading, our reading is not so much about the miracle. Rather, it's more about Jesus' teaching. There is one verse that jumps out at me. That verse is verse 24 which reads in part "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?" Let us explore God's Living Words for us together this Sunday.
Wherever you may be this day and over the weekend, may you be held in the and compassion of God.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Good morning. If there's a weekly email, that means I am back. Indeed I am, having had a great two weeks of Sabbath rest devoted to hiking, swimming, snorkelling, watching monkeys (including wee baby monkeys), beautiful birds and so much more. We also swam with a shark (unintentional); ate with a boa constrictor (very unintentional) and I took my first ever yoga class. Off the beaten path we went and had a most excellent time.
This Sunday we gather in community to learn, sing, pray and hear God's Living Words for us. Our scripture readings are from Jonah, Chapter 3, verses 1 thru 5 and verse 10. Jonah is very much a reluctant prophet. Earlier, God called him to "Go at once to Nineveh ... and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me." Jonah tried to escape by sailing to the ends of the earth but God has punished him by having a large fish swallow him. In this morning's reading, God calls to Jonah a second time and Jonah answers God's call. Our Gospel reading is from Mark, Chapter 1, verses 14 thru 20. Last week, we heard an account of the calling of the first disciples from the Gospel of John. This week, we hear a second call story from Mark with Jesus calling Simon, Andrew, James and John to leave their lives behind to follow him. And, just like that, they dropped whatever they were doing, and began new lives in following Jesus. They left the known of being fisher people to an unknown life, unknown future. Fish are a theme in our reading and I can't resist: "Where does a fish keep her money? In a River Bank." "Where do fish sleep? In a river bed!" Go right ahead and laugh or groan with me!
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we explore together God's Words for us this day.
Have a wonderful Friday evening and weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil