Trinity United

Kars, ON, Canada

www.TrinityUnited.org

6656 Rideau Valley Dr. S.
P.O. Box 45,
Kars, Ontario,
Canada K0A-2E0
613-826-1154
Email Office
Email Minister

This Week at Worship


Sunday, October 22, 2017

It is another beautiful day. Warm days, cool nights. Life is so, so good. 

This Sunday we gather to hear God's living words for us and to give God our thanksgiving in our worship, our words, our prayers, our singing. Please join us. We gather at 9:30 a.m. at Trinity and 11 a.m. at St. James. All are welcome without exception.

Our first Scripture reading is from the Book of Exodus, Chapter 33, verses 12 through 23. We have been reading from the Book of Exodus for a number of weeks and this is our last reading from Exodus for some time. The people, having escaped slavery in Egypt have been led by Moses as they travelled in the wilderness towards the Promised Land. They are almost there. In our reading from Exodus this Sunday, we eavesdrop on an intimate conversation between God and Moses and hear God say to the people then and to us today: "I know you by name...My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Such beautiful words. In those words is our faith as God's people - God knows us, God is with us. Always. Our Gospel reading is from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 22, verses 15 through 22. Jesus continues to teach his followers and this Sunday we hear of his encounter with the religious authorities of the day who set out to trap him. They ask Jesus the question, is it right to pay taxes to Caesar (to the Emperor - the one who has occupied the country; the one who has enslaved the people). Jesus answers by stating give to Caesar (the Emperor) what is Caesar's, give to God what is God's. This begs the question - what belongs to God? I would offer - everything belongs to God. Ourselves who have been made in God's image. All of creation - the birds, the animals, the sky, the air, heaven and so much more. Everything belongs to God. And as God's people, how do we live out this reality in our lives?

Whatever you may do today and this weekend; wherever you may be, know this: God is with you.

Blessings on your day and weekend.

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Good afternoon. 

We gather this Sunday, October 15 at a single Joint Service at St. James, 11 a.m. It is the 107th Anniversary of the St. James faith community. We shall celebrate with joy, prayers, scripture readings and our special guest, Chris Rodgers. Many of you may know Chris as he is a long-time member of St. Andrew's Presbyterian in Kars. He is a high school teacher at South Carleton, a leader at our Ecumenical Community Vacation Bible School, a wonderful person and a truly gifted musician. Chris will offer a musical sermon that speaks to the presence of God in his life, in our lives. Come. Celebrate. Experience the Holy presence of God among and within us this Sunday. We shall also feast at two meals on Sunday. We shall celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion during worship and then enjoy a time of fellowship over lunch following worship in the church hall. All are welcome without exception.

See you Sunday at worship as we gather to sing of joy and celebrate!

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Greetings to you and yours on another beautiful October day. It is a day in which we notice the leaves of God's beautiful trees slowly changing colour and falling to the ground to provide nourishment for God's good creation. In the season of Autumn, we witness the riot of colour of God's creation as it prepares for a time of Winter Sabbath rest in the northern hemisphere. I do hope you get outdoors today or during the long weekend to admire the beauty of this time of year.  

This Sunday we gather at worship to give God our Thanksgiving. It is Thanksgiving Sunday in our country. We gather with friends and family, with those enjoying a long-weekend break from running errands and doing chores; from the demands of work, school, college and university classes, papers and homework to be home together to express our thanks to God. We shall sing, pray and listen for God's Living Words for us this Sunday. Our scripture readings are from the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 8, verses 7 thru 19, Psalm 65 and from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 17:11-19.  A common theme in our readings this Sunday is that of expressing thanksgiving, living lives of gratitude to God every day of our lives - not just on Thanksgiving. I am definitely thankful to God for so many things. Yesterday, Thursday, I had my second round - and hopefully last - surgery for skin cancer on my forehead. I do pray that the biopsy results are good. I am thankful to God for the prayers, the care and support of so many of you these last few months. It has been a humbling learning for me to accept the care of others when I am accustomed to providing care to others in my ministry. It has been a good reversal of roles.

This Sunday, worship will be a bit different than what we are used to. It is inter-generational worship at both churches. I trust there will be young ones, older ones and those in-between as we worship, sing and laugh together. And, if you are a younger one, start practising the word "BINGO." 

Wherever you are today, may it be a day of blessings, thanksgiving and thanks living.

I look forward to being with you in community this Sunday.

From our home to yours, thanksgiving blessings.

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, October 1, 2017

A lovely Autumn Friday greeting sent your way.

This Sunday as we worship, we join with our Christian sisters and brothers around the world to give thanks to God and celebrate Worldwide Communion. With 2.3 billion other Christians, we gather together at God's table wherever we may be as the Body of Christ in the world. Come and have your thirst and hunger quenched in and by God.

In our gathering on Sunday, we join together to sing, pray and hear God's Living Words for us. We continue to read from the Book of Exodus and the Gospel of Matthew. The focus scripture is from Exodus, chapter 17, verses 1 thru 7. Similar to last week's reading, there is complaining. The people are thirsty and rather demanding of Moses. But we shouldn't be too hard on them. They have been wandering in the wilderness for months. I think we might complain as well. The last verse of this reading contains this question "Is the LORD among us or not?" (NRSV). How might you answer that question today? In our Gospel reading from Matthew, chapter 21, verses 23 thru 32. Matthew recounts the first of many challenges of Jesus' authority. He is questioned by the authorities of his day in an effort to undermine who he is and by what authority he ministers.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we worship and celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. All are welcome without condition at God's table! 

Blessings on your Friday.

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, September 24, 2017

And a beautiful, glorious, gorgeous, most wonderful (insert your own superlative adjectives here) Friday to you. On this, the waning morning and afternoon of Summer, we await the arrival of the beauty of Autumn. Autumn officially arrives here in our neck of the woods at 4:02 p.m. In the meantime, I do hope you get out to enjoy this amazing summer weather.

We are invited to gather in community this Sunday to be in relationship with one another and with God. We continue our journey with God as we hear scripture readings from the Book of Exodus, Chapter 16, verses 2 thru 15 and from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 20, verses 1 thru 16. In our reading from Exodus, the people have been freed from slavery and led by Moses and Aaron, they have crossed the Red Sea and are now in the wilderness. But, but, but they are an unhappy lot. Complain, complain, complain they do. Complaining is also a theme in our Gospel reading. It does make one wonder, is complaining a natural trait of human beings? When things aren't going our way, when we think we have been wronged, when we think others are getting more than us, is it our natural tendency to complain? Surely there is a top 10 list of complaints in there (surely there is!). My sermon has the title of "Well, that Party was Short-lived!" Let us join together to hear God's living words for us this day.

Wherever you are this day and weekend, may you know God's presence and give thank's to the Holy for the blessings showered upon us.

Blessings

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Good Friday to you. Another beautiful day in the neighbourhood. It is the season of summer and it is wonderful. These fine days are brought to you by all who travelled to the east coast this summer where it was sunny, sunny, sunny while you endured, uhm, let's just not go there. Do know (and surely you feel bad) that on the east coast, especially Newfoundland and Labrador it has been raining, raining and raining recently. So let's just say we've traded our weather.

Now, before I forget, this Sunday worship times change at both churches. Trinity gathers for worship at 9:30 a.m. and St. James at 11 a.m. You don't want to arrive too early nor too late for worship depending on where you may go on Sunday morning. And, I really, really need to make sure I get to the right service at the right time. Sunday School kicks off at Trinity this Sunday and as always, worship is followed by a time of fellowship in the church hall. Following worship at St. James, all are invited to gather for a light lunch to celebrate the beginning of a "new year" and being together once again after Summer Sabbath rest.

Our Scripture readings this Sunday are from the Book of Exodus, Chapter 14, verses 19-31 and from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 18, verses 21-35. In our first reading, we hear of God walking with people on their journey to freedom to the promised land. In our second reading, most likely familiar to many of you, Jesus teaches about forgiveness. My thoughts are with the reading from Exodus and the journey that so many people take, fleeing persecution, fleeing the "pharaohs" of our times in search of the promised land. Let us join together this Sunday to hear God's Living Words for us this day. All are welcome.

I missed you all. I trust you too had a wonderful summer and were able to take time for Sabbath rest and to give your thanks to God for the beauty of creation and the blessings that God offers to each of us.

See you on Sunday. And, one final note: A big shout out of thanks to Joan Wyatt for faithfully sending weekly emails to the OKPC flock all summer long!!!

Blessings, 

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, June 11, 2017

As I sit down to write this note on Thursday evening, I find myself in a bit of a pensive mood. I do tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. What has got me in this state of mind you might wonder? 

I've been thinking about the recent evil attack in Manchester, England of a few weeks ago and the one in London, England last weekend. So much death and carnage covered widely in our media. 

Then on Wednesday this week there was an attack in Tehran, Iran. More than a dozen killed and scores injured. Yet, it seems to me that there has not been much public outcry and mourning about what took place in Tehran. I know I spent time in prayer seeking peace and healing of humanity. But I wonder about the lack of outcry for what happened in Tehran: are we to think that some lives are more important than others? Are some cities, some countries more worthy of our attention and care than others? There seems to be a double standard at play when I think there should only be one. All people are beloved of God wherever they live and deserve to live in peace. Jesus asks us in Luke 10:25-37, who is my neighbour? And in Mark 12:31 we are commanded by Jesus to love thy neighbour as thyself. This is our call. Everyone is our neighbour. May we live this out in our words, our actions, our lives every day. Even when it is hard to do so. Especially when it is hard to do so.

I will leave my reflection at that for I truly want us to know, whatever is happening in our world, there is so much joy in our communities of faith. Last week we baptized two youth and confirmed them and three other youth in our faith.

This Sunday, at Joint Worship at Trinity (11 a.m.) we lift up, we celebrate, we sing of joy as we confirm Rylee Pearl, Abby MacArthur, Victoria Ward and Rachel Mercer in our faith. Please come and celebrate their Confirmation and their serving each of us the Sacrament of Holy Communion. As we celebrate each of them, we also give thanks to God for Trinity's 155 years of giving witness to the presence of God in our lives and our world. It is Trinity Anniversary Sunday and we gather to to sing a joyful song to God.

Blessings on your Friday and weekend wherever you may be.

P.S. Breakfast on Saturday? With me and a hundred or so of your friends and family members? Let me tantalize your sense of smell and taste - ham, eggs, sausages, pancakes, toast, beans, fruit, home fries and so much more! Yummy. But that's not the best part. The best part is the visiting and conversation as you eat. How much? Priceless. Free-will offering accepted. This is the last one before the Summer Sabbath break. See you there.

P.S.S. As this is my last Sunday leading worship before my own Sabbath rest, please see the pastoral letter from me to each of you. Additional copies will be available at both churches for those with no email access.

P.S.S.S. Next Sunday - June 18 we begin Joint Summer Sabbath Worship services, St. James at 10 a.m. On Sunday, June 25 we gather  at Trinity at 10 a.m. The summer worship schedule has been provided previously and is also in the Summer Worship Bulletins. If you don't have a copy, please look for it.

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, June 4, 2017

As I drive about Osgoode and Kars in my ministry, I have favourite farm lands that I enjoy checking out as I pass by. There are  some, still fallow and unseeded and others where seeding has taken place. To see new life already in the growing season - little shoots springing forth to provide food and nourishment for creation makes me happy. And, as I thought about new life and new growth from little seeds, I thought of worship for this Sunday, June 4 and next Sunday, June 11. Both Sundays we gather in witness to Baptism and/or the Rite of Confirmation for 9 of our youth. These are our children, now teens or on the cusp of teenage years (and all the joys and challenges that time of life entails) who worship with us; who may have been baptized as a baby in our communities of faith; in whom a seed of faith was planted; where their faith was watered and nourished. This Sunday and the next one too, we publicly celebrate, lift up and encourage them to continue to grow in faith, in love, in relationship with God always and forever as the Body of Christ in the World. 

This Sunday we gather for joint worship at St. James at 9:30 a.m. It promises to be a service of Joy and Celebration as we listen for God's Living Words for us this day. 

In listening and in responding we shall baptize two of our youth, and with 3 others, confirm them in our Christian faith. With much joy we shall feast at God's table in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, pray, sing and celebrate. And at the end of worship, we are invited to gather in the church hall for a reception to celebrate our youth. You do not want to miss the joy of this Sunday nor next. Please come.

Blessings on your Friday and weekend wherever you may be.

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sometimes words escape me and all I can do is lay my heart before God. 

To hear, see, read of the tragic events in Manchester, England this week makes me weep. Families, kids, young people having enjoyed a concert and heading home only to be met with a bomb, carnage, death and injury.

All I can think of again and again and again is how God weeps. God weeps at hardened hearts. God weeps at the evil humans continue to commit against one another. God weeps. We weep. 

Even as we acknowledge evil exists in our lives, in our world, we must not forget the goodness of people. We must lift up how people responded, how people stopped to offer aid, how people put their own lives in danger to reach out to others, to reach out in love and compassion. You may be aware that some newspapers have reported how a couple of homeless men were the first to respond to the tragedy. The New York Times writes: "For Chris Parker, the arena's entrance might have seemed like a good place to ask people for money. Stephen Jones had found a spot nearby to sleep. Now, the two men, both homeless, are being praised as heroes for helping victims of the Manchester bombings....Mr. Parker, 33, was panhandling when the bomb exploded according to local news reports. The force of the blast knocked him to the floor, but he was unfazed. Rather than running for safety, he went to the aid of victims, comforting a girl who had lost her legs, wrapping her in a T-shirt and cradling a dying woman in his arms. Mr. Jones, 35, says he pulled nails out of children's arms and faces. Just because I am homeless doesn't mean I haven't got a heart or I'm not human still..." 

How I imagine and know Jesus, the one who ministered to the outcast was present in Mr. Jones and Mr. Parker, people marginalized and seen as not important in society - not only in England but also here at home. There is good in the world. And good always, always, always trumps evil. 

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This Week at Worship we gather to be in community with one another and to hear God's Living Words for us this day in our hymns, our prayers and in our scripture. Our reading is from the Gospel of John, Chapter 17, verses 1 thru 11. Our reading presents the last scene of Jesus' farewell meal with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion. This part of the Gospel of John is often called the "high priestly prayer." In this reading, we hear Jesus lift up in prayer to God what he has accomplished for God and his prayer for his disciples.

Do remember, St. James worships at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. And, at Trinity this week we celebrate a baptism and also the end of Sunday school. There shall be a congregational picnic following worship at Trinity. If you've not already offered a food contribution, please contact the office) if you are able to do so. It would be much appreciated.

Blessings on your day and weekend,

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, May 21, 2017

A beautiful Friday morning to you. It is the Victoria Day long weekend, named for Queen Victoria who died in 1901 (that would be 116 years ago). For your reading pleasure, courtesy of Wikipedia: "Victoria Day is a federal Canadian public holiday celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25, in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday. The holiday has been observed in Canada since at least 1845, originally falling on Victoria's actual birthday (24 May 1819). It continues to be celebrated in various fashions across the country." Apparently we are the only country in the world that celebrates Queen Victoria's birthday with a statutory holiday. I have childhood memories (maybe you do too) of setting off fireworks on Victoria Day and we took special pleasure for some odd reason in the firecracker that was called "burning down the school house." Whether you are celebrating Victoria Day this weekend or as others say, the first long weekend of summer, may you be surrounded by love, laughter and the presence of God. 

This Sunday, we continue to explore readings from the Book of Acts and the Gospel of John. Our Acts reading is from Chapter 17, verse 22 thru 31. The Apostle Paul is in Athens congratulating the people on how religious they are for he sees altars and monuments to gods wherever he goes. But are they worshiping the one and true God? Might we ask ourselves the same question today? Come and find out. 

Our Gospel reading is from John, Chapter 14, verses 15 thru 21 (a continuation of last Sunday's reading of part of Jesus' farewell conversation with his disciples). Notable in the reading are Jesus' promises that the Spirit will be with his people and that he will not leave them or us orphaned. Jesus will be and is always present with us. 

Let us join together in community (St. James @ 9:30, Trinity @ 11 a.m.) to hear God's living words for us this day.

Wherever you find yourself this long weekend, in the garden, mowing the lawn, driving a trailer or boat to the lake, opening up the cottage or simply putting up your feet to rest and relax, do give thanks that the Living God is with you. 

Blessings

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, May 14, 2017

As I sat down to begin writing this note, it was an absolutely glorious morning. The sun was shining, birds singing and creation continues to re-awaken from a time of winter sabbath rest. Just so lovely out. Whatever this day brings you, may you give thanks for the beauty of God's world.

This Sunday, we gather in community at St. James at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. All are welcome without exception.

Our scripture readings are from the Book of Acts, Chapter 7, verses 55 thru 60 and from the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, verses 1 thru 14

In our first reading, we hear of persecution of members of the early Christian church. It was a nasty time that quite often ended in death for followers of Jesus. Our reading here offers an account of the stoning of Stephen who would not renounce his faith in Jesus. Such faith! Would we do the same, lay our life down, if we were asked to renounce our faith, renounce Jesus.

In our second reading, we hear part of Jesus' farewell discourse before he leaves his followers for the final time. It is a message of tenderness, love and comfort. Quite often, part of this reading is read at funeral services. 

Let us gather this Sunday to hear God's living words for us this day.

P.S. Tomorrow - Saturday - St. James Community breakfast from 8 a.m. thru 10 a.m. Come on out and eat, laugh and be in community together. Guaranteed good time. Do note the 'Goode run takes place in Osgoode on Saturday. There will be various road closures throughout the morning but they do not include Osgoode Main Street. As it is Mother's Day weekend, bring your Mom, your Grandma,  your Nana, whomever "mothers" you in life to breakfast. Surprise them and pay for their meal. What better gift than food and time spent with people you love! 

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, May 7, 2017

And a fine Friday morning to you.

It is Holy Humour Sunday at worship this Sunday at St. James (9:30 a.m.) and Trinity (11 a.m.). Holy Humour has a long tradition in the church. In some churches, it is celebrated during the Season of Lent to offer some joy during the seriousness of Lent. In others, Holy Humour Sunday occurs shortly after Easter Sunday when church attendance has waned and the joy of Easter Sunday seems to have worn off. Come and be prepared to laugh (and groan) and share a joke or two. As we live into the Season of Easter, we continue to celebrate the Resurrection to new life with joy and laughter. And with the weather this week and the weekend forecast, all the more reason to gather to laugh and worship and shake off the dreariness and rain. 

Come just as you are. With bed head, in pjs, mismatched shoes and socks. However you dress, you'll fit right in with our community of faith. There is always a need for joy and laughter in our lives and I hope you receive and share both this Sunday. Invite your friends and family to join us in our thanksgiving and praise of God and our laughter together.

To help you get in the spirit and the groove of joy and laughter this Sunday I share the following:

A little girl asked her mother, "Where did people come from?" Her mother answered, "God made Adam and Eve and they had children and that's how all mankind was made." A couple of days later she asked her father the same question. The father answered, "Many years ago there were monkeys, which the human race evolved from." The confused little girl returned to her mother and said, "Mommy, how is it possible that you told me that we were created by God, and Daddy said we came from monkeys?" The mother answered, "Well, dear, it is very simple. I told you about my side of the family and your father told you about his."

Hope to see you this Sunday in community - smiling, laughing and full of joy. 

Blessings on your Friday.

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, April 30, 2017

The birds are singing. Leaves on trees and shrubs are budding. Daffodils are swaying and smiling in the gentle breeze. The Rideau river is flowing. Farmers are tilling their fields. Boats are shedding their plastic wrap. Snow fences are down and soon to be put away. Flyers are advertising a/c units, barbecues, firepits, power washers, gardening supplies and so much more. And, I have been on the look out for at least one Taraxacum Asteraceae (the bane of many (primarily male) landowners, especially those who have lawns.)  Surely, all this means Spring is in the air. Of course it is for we are in the Season of Easter where new life is within us and all around us!

This Sunday, we celebrate the Third Sunday of Easter in which we proclaim again, Alleluia, Christ is Risen and we too have been raised to new life.

Our readings are from the Book of Acts, Chapter 2, verses 14a and 36 thru 41 and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 24 verses 13 thru 35.

In our reading from Acts, Peter is preaching in the streets of Jerusalem before a great crowd, testifying to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. 

In our Gospel reading, we hear the familiar story of two disciples encountering the Risen Christ as they walked the road to Emmaus although at first they did not recognize that it was Jesus. The exact location of Emmaus is not known. As someone wrote, perhaps then, Emmaus may be anywhere. Perhaps Emmaus comes into sight wherever a path leads us toward relationship with God and whenever we recognize the risen Christ among us.

Let us gather this Sunday to give our thanksgiving to God and to celebrate that we are People of the Resurrection.

Weekly announcements are attached for your information. I do pray you are practicing hard for Holy Humour Sunday (May 7)! Here is a bit of encouragement - surely you can do better than these: (1) Knock, knock. Who's there. Isaiah. Isaiah who? "Isaiah" a prayer every morning. (2) Knock, knock. Who's there. Moses. Moses who? She "Moses" grass once a week. 

Blessings on your Friday and weekend wherever you may be.

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Knock. Knock. Who's there? Wayne. Wayne who? Wayne, Wayne go away, come again another day! Groan. But do know I am practising for Holy Humour Sunday (May 7). I can only promise to try to get better.

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Ah it is Springtime, it is the Season of Easter where new life abounds within us and in all of God's good creation. Slowly but surely, God's creation is emerging to new life in our neck of the woods and for that we give our thanks. And, it is true. April showers do bring May flowers. You can see tulips and daffodils and other spring flowers emerging!!

This Sunday is the Second Sunday of Easter. As Easter people, we celebrate the Risen Christ every Sunday and this Sunday is no different. 

Our readings are from the Book of Acts, Chapter 2, verse 14a and 22 thru 32. In our first reading, Peter declares that we are all witnesses to the Risen Christ. 

Our second reading comes from the Gospel of John, Chapter 20, verses 19-31. As on Easter Sunday, the Risen Christ appears again. While on Easter Sunday Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb, in this reading he appears to his disciples not once, but twice. And, Jesus appears to them as Holy, Wholly Human, Wounded. Let us gather to hear God's living words for us this Sunday as we continue to celebrate the Risen Christ within and among us.

Do note this Sunday, April 23 is Joint Worship at St. James, 9:30 a.m. to be immediately followed by Joint Congregational Meeting to hear, discuss and vote on the recommendation of the JNAP group vis-à-vis a change in the call of Ministry Personnel. The JNAP report will be issued separately via email today. A few printed copies will be available at the meeting. Please attend to ensure we have quorum. Without quorum, the meeting cannot proceed. 

Finally, weekly announcements are attached to this email for your information.

Blessings on your day and weekend. May you see the Risen Christ wherever you go.

-- Rev. Grant McNeil


Holy Week, April 13-16, 2017

Holy Wednesday evening greetings to you.

We continue our Holy Week journey with a number of worship services in the coming days.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is Maundy Thursday. We are invited to gather for joint worship at Trinity United in Kars at 6:30 p.m. for a contemplative service where we will mark three events of Jesus' last days before his crucifixion. 

In scripture readings, prayers, candles and candle-lighting, Gregorian Chant and Taizé music we will share the sacred act of hand-washing, imitating Jesus' washing of his disciples feet at which he said (from the Gospel of John) "So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them." We will also celebrate Holy Communion as Jesus also celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples and friends before he was handed over to the authorities. We do this to remember Jesus' call to us "Whenever you do this, remember me." Finally, we will hear Jesus give us a new commandment "...love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you. It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognise you as my disciples." Please join together in community to bear witness to Jesus' last night; to rest in sacred music, words and silence; to be with one another and to be embraced by God's love, compassion and grace on this holy night. All are welcome no matter your age. While the service starts at 6:30 you are encouraged to come earlier to rest in sacred music.

On Good Friday, we are invited to join together for an ecumenical service with our Anglican and Presbyterians friends in faith in Kars. We shall carry the cross from St. Andrew's Presbyterian to St. John the Baptist Anglican and then to Trinity United. We shall read scriptures, listen to our scriptures come alive, sing, pray and worship as we carry the cross thru the Village of Kars. Service begins Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Andrew's Presbyterian, Rideau Valley Drive S. in Kars.

On Easter Sunday we offer multiple services to celebrate with joy the Good News of Resurrection and New Life. At 7:30 a.m. at the Peace Park in Osgoode (beside the post office) we have an Easter Sunrise service followed by light breakfast at St. James. At 9:30 we celebrate Holy Communion and the Resurrection of Christ and new life for us and creation at St. James, Osgoode and at 11 a.m. at Trinity, Kars. Please join together to hear and proclaim the Good News. Invite your spouse, kids, friends and neighbours to join us - feel free to share this note widely. And, a special note to those we have not seen for some time - come on out. We'd love to see you and to celebrate the joy of Easter together.

If you are travelling to be with friends and family this holy weekend - for example - to Bracebridge or Montreal - or places closer or further from home, may you experience the resurrected Christ; new life for yourself and creation; and, the love of God wherever you may go. Travel safely until you return to community again.

Holy Week Blessings,

P.S. One announcement in case you are not with us this Sunday. A joint congregational meeting has been called for Sunday, April 23 to consider the recommendation(s) of the Joint Needs Assessment group immediately following Joint Worship at St. James at 9:30 a.m. Please attend to offer your wisdom as we consider the next chapter of our journey in faith.

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Good afternoon. Spring has sprung. The rivers and creeks are flowing, the birds are singing, tulips, daffodils and other spring flowers are emerging from God's good earth. Life is grand. Life is beautiful. As. Rev. Bruce Epperley (author of the book our Lenten Study group read) would say: "This moment, all moments are holy and unrepeatable!"

Holy week begins this Sunday. It is a time in which we reflect on the last days of Jesus' life, his crucifixion, the pain and anguish of Good Friday and the hope and promise of resurrection to new life on Easter morning. As I've said in previous Holy Week emails of the last few years, this coming week is a time to reflect not only on Jesus' life and crucifixion but also our own. Do we participate in the crucifixion of others and our world? Do we bring new life to the world as followers of Jesus? Do we recognize the presence of God with us? Do we recognize the multitude of holy moments we have throughout our day?

Holy Week is a time to ponder, to reflect, to pray. It is not a time to rush nor skip through the sorrow of Good Friday in order to get to the joy of Easter morning. This Sunday (St. James at 9:30; Trinity at 11 a.m.), we continue our journey to the cross of Good Friday. We shall listen to and read our sacred Palm-Passion story interspersed with hymns and consider how and in what ways this story, God's story, speaks to our own lives. Our readings are from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 11:1-11 and selections from Matthew 26:14-27:66.

As we embark on Holy Week, a reminder of these Holy Week services with the hope you might attend. 

  1. Maundy Thursday (April 13) at 6:30 p.m. Joint service at Trinity featuring Taize music, candle lighting, readings, prayers, symbolic hand washing and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. 
  2. Ecumenical Good Friday service (April 14) at 10 a.m. beginning at St. Andrews Presbyterian, Kars. We worship with our Anglican and Presbyterian brothers and sisters. As we worship we shall hear readings, sing, pray and walk with the cross in Kars making stops along the way before making our way to Trinity for the completion of our worship service. All are welcome. If you are unable to walk, please drive from church to church to church (St. Andrew's, St. John, Trinity). 
  3. Joint Easter Sunday Sunrise service (April 16) at 7:30 a.m., St. James. The service takes place at Peace Park (beside the Post Office) and continues over breakfast at St. James. 
  4. Easter Sunday service (April 16), 9:30 a.m. at St. James; 11 a.m. at Trinity. We gather to celebrate and sing our Alleluias that Christ is Risen and new life is given to us. We'll also feast in celebration at God's table with the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

All are welcome. Please come. Bring family. Bring friends. And, feel free to forward this email on as you desire. And a special note to those we have not seen in community for some time. Please join us. This is a perfect time to come. Actually, any Sunday is a perfect time. We'd love to see you again. Don't be shy!

In other news:

  1. Multiple readers might be needed for our ecumenical Good Friday service, April 14 which is still being planned. Might you be interested? If yes, please send me a return email.
  2. Saturday morning - as in tomorrow - April 8! Get up. Get dressed. Collect self and family members and/or friends and come to St. James for their Healthy and Hearty Community breakfast. Great food, conversation and laughter. You've got to eat. Let St. James folks cook for you and do the dishes! Please join us tomorrow from 8 to 10 a.m.
  3. Please note: A joint congregational meeting has been called for Sunday, April 23 to consider the recommendation(s) of the Joint Needs Assessment group immediately following Joint Worship at St. James at 9:30 a.m. Please attend to offer your wisdom as we consider the next chapter of our journey in faith.

See you Sunday.

Blessings,

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Good afternoon or evening (depending on when you read this note). Just think, today is March 31 and tomorrow is April 1. You have been warned, do not be fooled on April Fool's day which is tomorrow - as in Saturday. While nature got in an early April Fool's joke for all of us today (to think I was driving around - maybe you were too if you have a sunroof - with my sunroof open on Thursday). If you are a parent and want to prank your kids on April Fool's Day go on. Do it. Set their clocks ahead, way ahead. Wake them up in a hurry and say, you're late. Late. Late. Slept in. You're going to miss the bus...you get the idea. Go ahead and have some fun and may it be met with laughs, laughs and more laughs.

-----------

This Sunday is the Fifth Sunday of Lent. We gather at worship to sing, give thanks to God and hear God's living words for us this day. 

For those who were at worship on the First Sunday in Lent, March 5 you will recall that some of us were given a bag with something inside (Taking on Something During Lent) and instructions what to do before end of day, April 2. That would be this Sunday. 

Wonderful stories and conversations have already been shared with me and in part, also with our faith communities. For example, I know a person who got one card to send a note of thanks to someone also purchased a second card to do the same. Another person who received coins amounting to $2 in their bag shared how they added to the $2 each day of Lent and planned to give it away. One shared how they received one large bottle and one small bottle of my homemade strawberry jam and decided to give the large bottle away to a family who could use some joy in their lives. Finally, one shared how they decided to use their $2 to buy bags of popcorn for sale at their school and to give it away to others. What a wonderful journey in Lent it is and has been to hear these stories. In our sharing during Lent, we have shared the love and blessings that we know in Jesus with so many others. This Sunday, during our time with our children and youth, we look forward to hearing more stories of how the blessings shared with us have been shared with others. 

Our Scripture readings this Sunday are from Ezekiel, Chapter 37, verses 1 thru 14 and selected verses from the Gospel of John, Chapter 11, verses 1 thru 45. The reading from Ezekiel features bones. Bones that come to life. In our reading from John, new life is also a feature. The reading focuses on Lazarus, a good friend of Jesus who has apparently died and is brought back to life by Jesus. Regardless of the factuality of the story, John the Gospel writer makes the point: Jesus can restore life when all hope, when all possibility, is gone. The point is not whether Lazarus was literally dead for three days or not; the point is larger than that: Jesus Christ brings life into lifeless times. When we feel we are alone, that we walk in the wilderness, in the desert, when we think we have no life, Jesus restores us to life. Jesus rolls away the stones that entomb us. 

This Sunday we shall also celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion and also personal prayers for peace and healing with anointing. 

Come. Come and be restored to new life and healed to wholeness in God.

Blessings on your Friday and weekend wherever you may be.

P.S. Attached is a flyer outlining our Holy Week services. Please read and take note.

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Good afternoon and Happy Spring. Indeed, Happy Spring as we near the end of the first week of Spring. Before you exclaim out loud, but, but, but....it's snowing, it's snowing do know that Joanne and I are toasty warm in the office where it is so Spring-like and the wall flies are happy for the heat! I do hope you are enjoying this beautiful day. 

We continue our Lenten journey this Sunday and are called to gather to give our thanksgiving and worship to God. St. James worships at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. All are welcome.

Our Scripture readings include Psalm 23 and the Gospel of John, Chapter 9, verses 1 thru 41. Psalm 23 is very well-known. Quite often, folks can recite all or most of it from memory and it is read at many funeral services. Our reading from the Gospel of John is yet another lengthy reading. Last week the reading from John was long. This week it is longer. And, next week, well, more of the same. Long. This means we may not hear both or all our readings this week and next and may not hear them as scripture but rather as a sacred story.

The Gospel of John does have a lot to tell us and teach us about the ways of Jesus and about how God sees us and the world. The Gospel reading is about the blind person healed by Jesus. You know this story. For those of us with family members afflicted with physical blindness, how we so wish those we love could have their eyesight restored. But, is that what Jesus is getting at here, a restoration to physical eyesight. I don't think so. But what is he getting at....well, you will have to come and see and hear! Let's just say I think it may be something related to "What are You?"

Knowing that some are not able to make it to worship on a regular basis (and we do miss you when you are not in community on Sunday), we do not want you to be left out of the loop on activities of OKPC. Thus, we have attached our weekly announcements for your information.

Blessings on your Friday and your weekend.

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, March 19, 2017

This Sunday we gather at worship to sing, pray and hear God's living words for us.

Our readings this Sunday are from the Book of Exodus, Chapter 17 verses 1 thru 7 and the Gospel of John, Chapter 4 verses 5 thru 42. In the first reading, Moses is leading the people in the wilderness and the people are grumbling and complaining. To say they are not a happy lot would be an understatement. They are ready to stone Moses. In our Gospel reading, we hear the story of the Samaritan woman at the well with Jesus. We have most likely heard this reading many times in the past and it does not shock us. However, for the original hearers of Jesus' teaching, it is shocking. Jesus hangs out with those kinds of people? But they are unclean, they are not the right kind of people. They are not worthy of him. Oh how Jesus surprises us even today with whom he is in relationship with!

Please join us in community at St. James at 9:30 and Trinity at 11 a.m.

Blessings on your Friday and your weekend.

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, March 12, 2017

May you know God's blessings as you get out to enjoy the day that God has made.

What a lovely week it has been. Days of winter. A day of spring. On Wednesday, after a horrendous Tuesday of freezing rain, the sun shone, lawns, fields and the Rideau continued to give up snow and ice and flocks of geese were here and there. Frolicking and bathing in the water or taking flight. There were times on Wednesday though as I looked up at the sky and the flying geese that I wanted to cry out "no, no...go north, don't go south." The flocks of geese I saw on Wednesday were sadly not going in the direction that I think we might all long for. That would be north. Geese fly north in the spring and south in the fall. Given the cool and blustery Thursday and Friday morning, I suppose the geese thought better than to head north (for now!). It shall all work out.

This week we gather for the Second Sunday in Lent and continue to be called to re-turn to God and deepen our faith and relationship with the Holy One. Our Hebrew Scripture reading is from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 12, verses 1 thru 4a. As an aside, have you ever wondered what the "a" in a bible verse citation means? When you see an "a" as in the Genesis reading for this Sunday it means we cut the reading half-way or mid-way thru a verse - typically at a period before the next sentence of the verse. In our reading from Genesis we hear of the blessings God bestows upon Abram and his wife Sarai (later re-named Abraham and Sarah) which are also blessings bestowed by God upon each of us. Our Gospel reading is from John, Chapter 3, verses 1 thru 17. Our text revolves around Nicodemus, a learned scholar, a man who studied and thought he knew the Jewish law, who goes under cover of night to to visit Jesus. Oh, how the Spirit blows where it chooses to. Let us gather to deepen our faith and relationship with God this Sunday. St. James worships at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m.

The following are free announcements of importance to all:

Food? Did you say food? There is a smorgasbord of options, indeed, a buffet of eating choices to be had tonight and tomorrow morning. All are invited to gather Friday at Trinity to feast at their retro-style church supper from 4:30 thru 6:30 p.m. The menu includes casseroles, jello salads, deviled eggs (ha! during Lent we are tempted to feast on deviled eggs), beverages, homemade desserts and so much more. Adults $15 and kids eat free. After a great dinner and a good nights sleep, rise early to get to St. James' hearty and healthy community breakfast on Saturday morning from 8 to10 a.m. Pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausages, ham, homemade sweets, fruit salad and so much more are waiting for you along with laughter and conversation. Free will offering. Neither meal is to be missed. As the saying goes, you've got to eat. Let others cook for you and do the dishes! I look forward to seeing many of you out and about with your family and friends.

One last announcement. You know how you absolutely detest arriving late for worship? Arriving late and having to sit in the last pew? Well, head's up. Do I have good news for you. Don't sleep in this Sunday and arrive late at church. Time changes at 2 a.m. on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Before you go to bed, turn your clocks ahead one hour so you'll arrive at church on time to finally grab that front row seat. And, while you are moving your clocks one hour ahead, please also change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. 

Feel free to share and forward this note to your family and friends and invite them to join us in community at dinner, breakfast and worship.

Blessings on your Friday and weekend. 

And, to parents with kids on March break next week, blessings for much laughter and patience!

P.S. This Sunday: What comes after the Blessing and Commissioning at the end of worship? The folks who forgot to turn their clocks ahead. Groan! 

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Greetings on a lovely winter morning. While the sun may be peeking out amongst the clouds, how I long to hear the return of songbirds and their beautiful call. The only call we have heard of late in our neck of the woods has been that of crows. Sometimes there are a few. Other times, as in the last few weeks there has been a "murder of crows" (or in other words, hundreds at dusk flocking to roost in trees around our home). Let's just say, as much as they are beloved creatures of God, their social call to one another is not so musical (to me at least).

We have entered the Season of Lent. It is a time in which we intentionally re-turn to God. It is a time to take on new practices and ways of living that deepen our appreciation for one another, when we look and see the holy wherever we go, when we deepen our relationship with God. All these can be undertaken in different ways. For example, by noticing the beauty of creation and those we encounter each day; by spending more time in prayer with God and reading scripture each day; by expressing our love and blessings for others. Please consider taking on something more for the Season of Lent that deepens your faith and strengthens your relationship with God. 

I am not of the view that we give things up for Lent such as a favourite food, chocolate, or social media like Facebook. While I acknowledge that some do, I am more tied to taking on something during Lent. And, if you might be thinking, "What is Rev. Grant taking on for Lent?" I share two things that I have taken on. I am returning to journal writing where I write and reflect on my relationship with Jesus, with God and see where God is active in my life and in particular, the challenges of my Mom. And, I have also taken on extended daily prayer time where I pray and engage with God, seeking God's wisdom, God's call to me and our communities of faith. 

We began Lent this past Wednesday with our beautiful and sacred Joint Ash Wednesday services. It was good to see many of you come out to be in community as we began our Lenten journey. Won't you join in community this Sunday to make the Lenten journey too? We cannot get to the joy of resurrection and new life of Easter without making the journey together to the cross of Good Friday. 

Our scripture readings for this Sunday are from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 2, verses 15 thru 17 and Chapter 3, verses 1 thru 7. In our reading we hear of the temptation of Adam and Eve. Our second reading is from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 4, verses 1 thru 11. In this reading we hear of the temptation of Jesus as he spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness. We have no doubt heard these stories before. Rest assured I shall not be preaching on "hell and brimstone" as the consequence of giving in to temptation. Let us gather to hear God's living words for us this Sunday and also feast at God's table in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. 

During our worship each Sunday of Lent, worship will take on a bit of a different flavour. There will be prayers, scripture readings, a sermon and hymns we sing but there will also be more to help us journey together thru Lent. This Sunday (as there was on Ash Wednesday) there will be a special insert written by the Rev. Tom Sherwood who served OKPC some years ago called "Lenten Call to a Holy Fast and a Holy Feast." It is a beautiful prayer that you are encouraged to take home and read each day of Lent reminding us that we are called to fast from that which distracts us from God and feast on that which deepens our relationship with the Holy. Each Sunday of Lent, worship will begin with words and actions that tie into the scripture readings we shall hear later in the service. And, worship will end with words related to "Diminishing the Light During Lent." If you are interested in participating at worship in reading words as we begin worship, in reading scripture or in reading words at the end of worship and blowing out a candle, please let me know. All are welcome to participate. It matters not your age. What does matter is that we all participate as the Body of Christ in our Lenten worship.

Do note that we are all invited to gather at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Kars today at 2 p.m. for our ecumenical World Day of Prayer service. If you can, please stop by.

Blessings on your Friday and your weekend wherever you may be.

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Greetings to you on this day that God has made!

What a lovely week it has been and continues to be. It is always so nice at this time of year to step outside and feel the warmth of the sun as I did earlier this week and hope you did as well. Slowly but surely, God's good creation is awakening from a time of Sabbath rest. There will be cold and days of winter before us but we know God's creation and each one of us shall emerge to resurrected life. In the meantime, with this weather and the melting snow, we or at least I must go down to our unfinished basement from time to time to check for water seepage from the outdoors and to make sure the old and noisy dehumidifier is working. 

This Sunday, February 26, we gather at joint worship at Trinity at 11 a.m. We shall worship, give our thanksgiving to God, sing and pray and conduct the business of Trinity at their Annual Meeting. While we look back, we shall also look forward to our tomorrows. Where is the Spirit leading us? Where and what might God want us to be as the Body of Christ in the world?  Please join us this Sunday to have a sacred conversation. 

As I write this note, I think how you have had the OKPC Annual Report for a few weeks and you received our most recent newsletter, the Epistle, earlier this week. I do hope when you read both that you can see how the Spirit is at work in our lives and in our communities of faith. We have so much to give thanks for and so much to look forward to.

I also share that my mind has turned fully towards the Season of Lent. Lent is a wonderful season in the life of the Church. Next Wednesday, March 1, is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. We are offering two Ash Wednesday services this year and I do hope you might join us at one of them. The first is at 1 p.m. and the second is at 6:30 p.m. Both take place at St. James and are about 30 to 45 minutes in length. In candle light, sacred music, words, prayers; in the imposition of ashes and the Sacrament of Holy Communion we begin our Lenten journey to the cross of Good Friday. Our Ash Wednesday services are not your "traditional" worship. If you need a ride, let us know. We'll do our best to get you to church on Wednesday. Everyone is welcome. 

Blessings on your Friday and weekend. And for parents of young adults returning to college and university after their reading week, please extend to them our love and blessings. Before they know it, this term will be successfully over!

P.S. We are still looking for one or two people to lead Sunday School at Trinity this Sunday so that parents can remain upstairs for the annual meeting as we worship. Might you be able to help? If yes, please let me know.

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, February 19, 2017

And a beautiful, sunny Friday to you all. The sun is out and God's creation is covered in a beautiful white blanket. I hope you are able to get out and about today if only to stand for a few minutes under a warming sun.

This Sunday we gather in community for worship at 9:30 at St. James and 11 a.m. at Trinity. All are welcome. Please join us.

Our first scripture this Sunday is from the Book of Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18. Readings from Leviticus are rare in the Revised Common Lectionary (the 3-year cycle of bible readings that we follow) yet the book resonates with God's call of how to be in community with one another. We shall hear on Sunday a variety of regulations or instructions on how to relate with one another with the most important one being in verse 18 "you shall love your neighbor as yourself." This is not new to us for we have heard that verse repeated a number of times in our Gospel readings over the years. 

Our second reading comes from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5:38-48. In our reading, Jesus continues to teach during what is called his "Sermon from the Mount." The two-part focus of Jesus' teaching in this reading concern retaliation and how to relate to one's enemies. Our reading is full of sayings with which we might be familiar with from scripture. For example, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth;" "if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek also;" and, "you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemies."  In reading this passage of scripture, oh, how there are questions I have (and I suspect you might too.)

Together, let us explore and reflect upon what God is calling us to hear this Sunday. I am thinking "Jesus, You Want Us to Do What?

This Sunday is also the third Sunday of the month. As you are able, might you contribute something to our food bank offering? St. James collects for the Enniskerry foodbank and Trinity collects for the North Gower food cupboard. 

Finally, for Moms and Dads of college and university students. As your kids take a well deserved "Reading Week" this coming week, may you spoil them with letting them sleep whenever they want (they need it), spoil them with their favourite foods (they need that too) and generally, just give them days of good loving (we all need that). May you all enjoy time together for "Reading Week."

And, to all who are celebrating Family Day on Monday, may you have a wonderful day of being with family however defined (biological or chosen, 2 legged or 4 legged...). Simply be with those you love.

P.S. Next Sunday, February 26 is Joint Worship at Trinity, 11 a.m. Just a head's up.

Blessings on your Friday and weekend and see you on Sunday. 

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Good morning. It is a beautiful, crisp and sunny Friday. After what seemed like weeks of clouds and grayness, it is always so good to see the sun. 

This Sunday we gather for joint worship at St. James at 9:30. 

As we sing, pray and worship, we open our hearts and ears to God's living words for us expressed in scripture and the voices and longings of each of us as we hold the annual congregational meeting of St. James. Please join us. Do remember to bring a copy of your annual report with you. 

Our scripture readings for Sunday are Psalm 119, Part 1 and Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (the Church at Corinth), 1 Corinthians, Chapter 3, verses 1 through 9. As you read Psalm 119, Part 1, read it aloud. As you speak, hear it as a way to hold in your heart and thoughts to love God and God's desires for you and for us. 

In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, there is a dispute going on in the Church at Corinth which Paul seeks to quell throughout his letter. In the scripture reading here, Paul explains that neither the accomplishments of him or Apollos are above one another. Indeed, we should not put our human accomplishments above one another but see our work in building faith as being made possible by God who inspires us to work together. We don't do anything alone. Rather, we do it with God's help. This is a good message as we gather to consider our ministry over the last year and our ministry into the future. We all have gifts to share and together they are all equal and valued.

Do note that tomorrow, Saturday, February 11 is St. James' Hearty, Healthy, Delicious, Most-Excellent (okay that is enough adjectives) Community Breakfast. From 8 a.m. thru 10 a.m. there will be eggs, pancakes, ham, sausage, baked beans, toast, coffee, tea, juice, fruit, home-made biscuits, happy smiling faces and so much more. Bring your family, friends and neighbours. You have to eat. They have to eat. Great food, laughter and conversation are promised. 

I look forward to seeing you in community at breakfast on Saturday and at joint worship at St. James this Sunday. As always, if you have any questions or want to chat, please give me or call or send me an email.

Blessings,

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Good day to you wherever you may be - in Kars, Osgoode, Ottawa, Manotick, Kemptville, places far and wide including those who are where it is so not winter! 

It was Groundhog Day on Thursday and surprise, surprise there were conflicting groundhog views on whether or not we shall have an early Spring or at a minimum, 6 more weeks of Winter. Apparently, Ontario's Wiarton Willie and Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam failed to spot their shadows meaning Spring shall be early. However, they contradict Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil, who predicted more weeks of winter. If I were a betting man, I would place my bet that we shall enjoy more weeks of winter as God's good earth continues to hibernate before life is born anew.

-----

This Sunday we are called to gather to give God our thanks and praise as we hear God's living words for us. St. James worships at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. We shall also feast at God's table in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. At God's table all are welcome, all are invited to wholeness with God.

Our Hebrew Scripture reading is from Isaiah, Chapter 58, verses 1-9a. In this reading, Isaiah proclaims what the true worship of God is: justice for the poor or in other words from verse 6 "to loose the bonds of injustice, open eyes that are blind and deliver from brokenness those who sit in darkness."  

We return to our reading from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5, verses 13-20 and Jesus' teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. In our reading, Jesus calls his followers "salt of the earth" and "light of the world". As I reflect on the Gospel reading, I came across a quote from  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She writes, "People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." With the sad and tragic events of this week: acts of unspeakable evil, terror and violence, words and acts of hatred, barriers and walls that divide one another, how do we share the light of Christ with others? In the midst of tragedy, in the midst of darkness, is the light of God present within us? 

Let us join together in our worship this Sunday to receive God's peace, healing and grace.

Blessings on your Friday and weekend.

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Good morning to you! 

Can you believe that we are almost at the end of the first month of the year? Already!!! And, that unofficial and not so trustworthy "day" called Groundhog Day is fast approaching. Indeed it's next Thursday, February 2. It's not been much of a winter so we shall wait to see what the groundhog may predict vis-a-vis an early (or not) Spring.

While we wait (or not) for the groundhog's most unscientific prediction, there is much to reflect upon and give thanks for. That is why we're all invited to gather with one another at worship this Sunday. Let us gather at St. James at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. We shall pray and sing, laugh and visit, hear God's living words for us and rest in the presence of Jesus. Is there a better way to start your Sunday? I dare say there is not so come, let us worship God together.

Our scripture readings are from the Book of Micah, Chapter 6, verses 1 through 8 and the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5, verses 1 through 12. You may have heard these readings before. 

In our reading from Micah, we shall hear the well-known verse 8 "God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (NRSV). Eugene Peterson in "The Message" offers this contemporary translation "But God's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously-take God seriously." Sage advice for us today - in a world that seems to have run amok - "don't take  yourself too seriously." But, do take God seriously and God's call upon our lives to do justice.

Our reading from the Gospel of Matthew begins what is called Jesus' Sermon of the Mount. In our reading, we hear what are referred to as the Beatitudes - a series of blessings. This text is also one that we might be quite familiar with. 

As I reflect upon the Gospel text prior to Sunday I ponder what does it mean when we say "God Bless You?" 

Quite often we use that phrase when someone sneezes. Professor Google (found on the Internet) says "The practice of blessing someone who sneezes dates as far back as at least AD 77, although it is far older than most specific explanations can account for. Some have offered an explanation suggesting that people once held the belief that a person's soul could be thrown from their body when they sneezed, that sneezing otherwise opened the body to invasion by the Devil or evil spirits, or that sneezing was the body's effort to force out an invading evil presence.In these cases, "God bless you" or "bless you" is used as a sort of shield against evil. Moreover, in the past some people may have thought that the heart stops beating during a sneeze, and that the phrase "God bless you" encourages the heart to continue beating." 

While I shall not be preaching on God Bless You and sneezing this Sunday, I do ponder what we mean when we use the phrase "God Bless You" as well as what it means to be blessed and a blessing to others. The Beatitudes are full of blessings for us and for our world. Let us gather together to hear God's Living Words for us this Sunday and to be a blessing to one another in a world so in need of blessings.

May you have a wonderful Friday night and weekend.

May God be with you and may you know God's presence alive in you and our world.

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, January 22, 2017

And a great Friday to you. 

It is good to be back (I think) after a two-week break in Columbia - the land of sun, warmth, mountains and hiking, rivers and oceans, cities and villages and a multitude of songbirds to rouse one to begin the day. We had a most wonderful holiday although it was too short. My thanks to Connie, Joan W. and Deanna for leading worship in my absence.

This Sunday, we gather in community to sing, pray and hear God's living words for us. 

Our first scripture reading is from the Prophet Isaiah, Chapter 9, verses 1 thru 4. Traditionally, we hear a portion of this reading at the 8 p.m. service on Christmas Eve. The focus of the reading for me is in verse 2 "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined." When I reflect on this verse, I think of darkness and brokenness. In our brokenness where do we see the gift of light that is with us in the person of Jesus Christ? Are we able to see the gift of light, the presence of Jesus when we are feeling most broken, alone and abandoned? The late priest, theologian, and writer Henri Nouwen suggests that brokenness is a gift to us for in our brokenness we must reach out to others, we are called to rest and embrace God's peace and healing. I wonder, do you feel or think when you are broken, that your brokenness is a gift?

Our Gospel reading is from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 4, verses 12 thru 23. In our reading, Jesus begins his ministry among the people and begins to call disciples to follow him. What does it mean to follow Jesus today? What does it mean to answer Jesus call "Follow me"? 

I do not yet know where the Spirit is calling me with my message but let us join together this Sunday at St. James (9:30 a.m.) and Trinity (11 a.m.) to hear and reflect on God's living words for us this day.

Blessings on your Friday and weekend.

--

Rev. Grant McNeil


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Good afternoon to you and happy fifth day of Christmas! May you continue to give thanks for the gift of the Christ-chid born for us.

This Sunday, we worship on the first day of a New Year. A year of new blessings, new hopes, new possibilities and so much more. I've always liked the start of a new year. Not because I am one to make resolutions (that often fall by the wayside as the year progresses) but because it is a time for new beginnings and deepening of my faith and my relationship with God. 

This Sunday, January 1, we gather for joint worship at St. James at 9:30 a.m. for a relaxed service of readings, carol singing and enjoyment of a continental breakfast. We meet downstairs in the hall. As I am giving up the computer for the next few weeks, please note as of Sunday, January 8 we return to our regular worship schedule: St. James at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m.

As we mark the end of 2016, I share with you a poem written by the late John O'Donohue, an Irish poet and Catholic priest. More information about this special man can be found here: http://www.johnodonohue.com/. The poem appears in his book "To Bless the Space Between Us" published in 2008.
 

At the End of the Year
 
"The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline's longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening us shapes of days.
 
As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.
 
The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.
 
Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.
 
The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.
 
The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.
 
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.
 
We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the very quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination."
 

May your Thursday evening, Friday, weekend and new year overflow with God's blessings and love for you. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.
-----

Rev. Grant McNeil













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