Shopping for a Spiritual Home

Good Morning All,                                                                                                              Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Yesterday I was invited to be a part of a breakfast presentation with Eastlink. At first, I was a little sceptical about why I was invited and what, in fact, I could learn.  Now this was definitely a sales pitch on the part of Eastlink and its partners to do with technology. However, as I engaged in the presentation I was struck by the things that are relevant to the church. There are countless conversations, working groups and pockets of people who spend a lot of time thinking and visioning about the future of the church. We continually ask questions like “How can we reach out to those who do not come?” or “How do we appeal to a particular age group.” There is talk of rebranding and what needs to be changed in order for us to thrive in the future. This is, in some ways, very similar to the conversations that are held in business and organizations of all sorts. The presenters this morning shared what is their model of customer engagement and as they did so lights began to go off for me. I could not help but recognize that these are the very questions we should be asking and the things that we should be doing.

Who is the target audience? What is the mind set and culture of people

What are the needs and options for the people. What can we offer that cannot be found elsewhere?Connect with people where they are, who they are – provide for their needs

Keep in touch – go the extra mile

By keeping these things in front of us we can discern what we need to do to reach people where they are and effectively communicate the gospel.

Now I fully understand that this is by no means simple and there is no direct path. However, the presenters also talked about that. They reminded us that even as we discern our target audience there is no way to paint everyone with the same brush. Each person or group of people learns, communicates and acts in their own way. Some are very savvy, experts in what they want and how they want it delivered. They know the product or topic inside and out.  Some are able, people who have some knowledge and are able to navigate things fairly well. And others are challenged, new to the topic and just beginning to understand what is happening.  Again, a light went off!!! In the church we often forget this. We think that we can produce a “one size fits all” and that our worship, in particular, should be able to appeal to everyone. Yet this is not possible and the faith communities of today are different from yesterday. In many ways we are unwilling to change how we deliver what we have to offer whether that be by changing the format or venue or time of worship; learning to speak a new language that is not fraught with our own church speak but uses words and images that intersect with people where they are; engaging and embracing new technologies; or venturing into different musical waters with new hymns etc. As a result, I think we lose.

People no longer come through the church doors because it is the culturally expected thing to do. And there really isn’t denominational loyalty. If they are searching for a spiritual home they are spending time shopping to see who and what can best meet their needs. Some know exactly what they are looking for; some have an idea and have some things they want; and others simply know they are searching and will know it when they experience it. So those of us who are already here and know that what we have to offer is amazing need to be more mindful of how we reach out and communicate this so others may know.

Blessings,
Valerie

Reminders of the Week
Get your Tickets before Friday!!!!!!   Liona Boyd and Truro Youth Singers Friday at 7pm
Office is closed Monday for Remembrance Day

A New Way of Doing Something

Good morning,

Yesterday I took the afternoon to head into the city to spend a couple of hours with Terri. Being confined to the hospital, Terri has been trying to fill her time as best she can. She has done a couple of cross stitches, done some sketches, and spends some time watching TV. She decided that she really wanted to try her hand at crocheting again but it has been a very long time and she really never mastered anything more than a chain. This is where I come in. My task was to pick up the necessary stuff and teach her. Well I did just that. We decided to start with something basic and try to crochet some dish clothes. Seated in her room I proceeded to show her the basic chain stitch and then a single and a double stitch. It didn’t take long for us to realize that this was not going to work. You see, Terri is left handed and I am not! I would show her the stitch and then she would try to convert it to left handed but it was proving to be very difficult. Now some might suggest that we simply google left handed crocheting and watch a video. Perfect solution. Not! Internet at the hospital is very slow and most times won’t let you do something like streaming. So this was even more frustrating. The only obvious solution was for me to switch hands and figure it out. So first I needed to teach myself to use the left hand and then teach Terri. It was indeed a journey!!!

As I thought about this on the way home I was struck by how much concentration it takes to learn someone else’s way of doing things and it is not easy! Yet in order for me to communicate what I needed to this is what was required. I began to think about how this really was a life lesson. How often do we try to communicate something and the other person just can’t get it? Perhaps it is because we are not using the language that they understand, or presenting in a way that their brain can’t comprehend. Perhaps we are showing it right handed and all they can use is the left. So often we take the approach that we said it or did it and it is the other person’s responsibility to figure it. Maybe what is needed is taking the time to learn a different way and then share. It is kind of like taking a moment to walk in the other person’s shoes, or see through their eyes. This not only enables us to share what we want but also opens up the possibilities for our own learning and growing and changing. By simply switching hands I changed direction, learned a new way of doing something, and discovered that there are many ways to arrive at the same destination.

Blessings
Valerie

Reminders of the Week

Saturday 7pm!! COLCHESTER TO THE RESCUE Cantabile share the story of local forgotten heros in the aftermath of the Halifax explosion. Something you really do not want to miss!!!!!

Sunday 10:30am Worship and Sunday School We will explore a number of different ways of arriving at the same destination

Don’t Forget to get your Liona Boyd tickets early!!! 25% savings when you buy in advance

What We Feel About Time

Good morning!

A couple of weeks ago Chris wrote a piece on his Facebook page about being busy. In it he reflected on how easily those words slip from our lips when someone asks “How are you Doing?”Being busy seems to be the way that we organize our lives and in some ways it feels like this is an expectation in today’s world. We spend a lot of time running to and fro, engaged in many different things and making sure that every minute of the day has something packed in it. Yet we all long for those moments when we can put up our feet and shut out the demands on our lives. Often when I chat with folks there is a longing for simpler times when there didn’t seem to be as much of this busyness. I am reminded of a song written by BuddyWasisname and the Other Fellas called “Still some more to go”. The first verse and chorus go like this:
Sliding down the Barracks hill beyond the speed of light I didn’t know the heart could beat that fast Frozen tears on crimson cheeks and toes gone numb with cold But we didn’t know those moments wouldn’t last. Chorus: Gone are the days and lost are the ways As memories they’re frozen now in time Now the hills seem so much steeper and the ride costs so much more But hang on cause there’s still some more to go.
How quickly time speeds by and how much we miss because we do not take the opportunity to enjoy those moments of simply being. Does the hill really have to be that much steeper? Does our constant moving really bring to life what we need or want? Would it really be that bad if we simply stopped and said “Today, I am doing nothing.”
Chris and I have been exploring this a little this week and we will explore it further on Sunday morning as we gather for worship and think about time. In our conversations we wrote a new hymn that I think reflects what we feel about time and the most healthy way for us to engage in the use of it. I will leave you today with those words.
Take TimeTake time to speak boldly, stand up for what’s right.Seek love and compassion for you are a light.Make bridges connecting all those who are here,Then celebrate goodness and let go of fear.
Take time to tend spirit, be one with Divine.Join hands at the table, eat bread and drink wine.Find spaces for resting, take time to just be,allowing your spirit all beauty to see
Take time to share laughter, let joy flood your soul.Lose all inhibitions, relinquish control.Take time to live wholly. New life has begun.Unite with creation. Come, join in the fun.
BlessingsValerie
Reminders of the Week
Saturday 9am – 4pm Annual Craft Fair . Crafts, bake table and a Café. Come one, come all!!!
Sunday 3pm Memorial Hymn Sing

Safely On Shore

Good morning!
Yesterday I made the trip to Fredericton to see Terri and return Jase into the care of his parents. It was a beautiful drive as creation was alive with colour and wonder. On the return drive I had the radio on in the background and was simply lost in my thoughts. Those thoughts were interrupted as I heard this story coming through my speakers:

“150 years ago this week in 1867 a most amazing thing took place. This story has been all but lost over the years except in the hearts of some of the residence in a small Newfoundland Community called Ranews. Captain William Jackman, a fisherman from Ranews NL, was out fishing the waters off the coast of Labrador. While out on the sea a major storm blew up and the Captain and crew took refuge in a cove off Spotted Islands Labrador. Once the boat was secured and crew safely on shore Captain Jackman decided to walk over the crest of the hill to look out over the sea. Whether it was providence or instinct that caused him to do this it was indeed a blessing. As he crested the hill he could see a stricken ship about 400 yards off shore. Boat and canvas gone, the crew clung to the wreckage shouting for help. There was no one else within reach and Captain Jackman stood there alone. Without thoughts for his own safety or taking time to discern if it were possible Jackman ran to the shore, stripped off his clothes, and jumped into the frigid Labrador waters. Twenty seven times he swam out to the wreckage and each time returned with a member of the crew on his back. That night, so long ago, all crew members of this ship were brought safely to shore thanks to the singlemindedness and determination of Captain William Jackman.”

After hearing the story my mind began to wander to all the things that are happening in the world around us that seem to be impossible or so overwhelming that we are paralyzed by fear. Things like food justice, environmental issues, economic justice, poverty, racism, hatred, discrimination, inequality, gender justice and the list goes on. How often do we find ourselves so overwhelmed that we simply cannot see a way through to do anything? Then I thought about Captain Jackman. Imagine how different things would have been for the crew of that ship had Captain Jackman allowed his fears to paralyze him? How different would it have been if he stopped to think that his efforts would be futile? Instead life was changed for those 27 people because one person decided to just dive in.

As people of faith we are surrounded by stories just like this. How many can we recall about the ancestors who were asked to do the impossible and when they did the course of history was changed? People like Moses, Abraham and Sarah, Samuel, Saul, Hagar, Deborah, Jonah, Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah…… Each one of these were faced with a decision to become agents of change. They could have easily thrown up their hands and said “It is too big for me”. But they did not. They said “Okay, here I go, ready or not!” and life was altered.

We too are being led to walk over the crest of the hill and view what is taking place in front of and beyond us. It may appear impossible, it may feel that our efforts are not enough, and we are left with a choice. Do we walk away and allow death to be what wins the day or do we dive in and make the impossible reality?

It is my prayer and hope that there are more Captain Jackmans than not and that together we will make a difference and bring many safely to shore.

Blessings, Valerie

Reminders of the Week
Tonight at 6:30 the “Take Back The Night” walk begins at the Riverfront Park. The drummers from the church will be there to take part in the ceremony and to drum throughout the walk. One small way that we can stand up against the violence that lingers in the night

CRAFT MARKET!!!! October 21st. Mark you calendars and spread the word. If you are a pie maker apples, pie plates and boxes will be available after church on Sunday so you can make a pie for the pantry table. If you don’t make pies then all other donations to the pantry table are also needed and welcomed.

Memorial Hymn Sing – October 22 at 3pm. Forms for this are available at the back of the church or on the church office. Forms to be returned to the office by October 17th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving

Good morning
This coming weekend we will celebrate the harvest and spend time expressing gratitude for creation. The trees have already begun to change colour and many have fallen as the earth prepares for winter rest.
This morning as I sat under my tree my thoughts were of the last few months. They have not been easy ones for me. Personally there have been some losses and times of uncertainty that still linger. As a faith community we have also walked through some dark moments and there are have been some trying spiritual times. And yet, what I have been feeling this last while is not despair but “deep gratitude”.  This comes as I experience the presence of Divine in the beauty and wonder of the creation into whose pattern I am intricately woven. It comes as Divine presence is made real in the outpouring of concern and love from those with whom I share the journey.
When I returned to the office I opened my book to a piece that I wrote many years ago. 

Thanksgiving      by Valerie Peyton Kingsbury

Look around and see the many wonders of creation.

The garden – planted and tended; cared for and nurtured

Harvest time – the earth once more begins to fall asleep

The earth is tilled and we make ready for months of hibernation.

The trees have turned colour.All around we see the brilliance of creation

Making ready to start, once more, the cycle of life.

Look around and you will see signs of hardship and difficulty

Reminders of the suffering that exists and the destruction of creation.

We search for peace.We see it on the horizon its reality

We crest the summit and there is another mountain to climb

We grow weary.

Give thanksgiving and praise the ancients say

Yet we are tired and sometimes overcome by the journey

A loves one dies; a job disintegrates.Struggles – to pay the bills, buy food

A dream is lost.

Where is hope? Where is Peace? Why be thankful?

Then a child runs, arms wide open, three small words “I love you”

A community pulls together, supporting and holding

A phone call comes, “Just thinking of you”.

The storm passes.

Those around reveal the beauty of the rainbow

A sign of Divine presence and promise.

You sit alone in the quiet of the night.

Knowing you are by yourself, but not alone

There are others who share the journey

And you are embraced in the heart of love.

Give thanksgiving and praise the ancestors say.

It is right to give thanks and praise.

The trees have turned their colour

All around is the brilliance of creation

Making ready to start once more

The cycle of life.

My prayer for you is that you will indeed be held in the heart of love and know a moment of deep gratitude that will empower you to make it through the shadows into amazing light.

Blessings, Valerie 

United With All Creation

The last couple of weeks I have been taking my morning coffee and heading off to the tidal bore view situated on the banks of the Bay of Fundy. Most mornings the tide has been out and you can see the red mud flats which glisten in the sun. Some days there are flocks of seagulls that dot the landscape. As I watched them I couldn’t help but wonder if this is their morning coffee as they sit and enjoy the beauty of this place.

Part way up the hill stands an old maple tree. It’s base is big, gnarled and showing its age. At one point it splits into several other large branches and then the smaller ones flow out from there. Each branch is unique but twisted and woven around the others.

I wonder about this tree’s story – the years of growing and becoming; the storms that it has weathered; the moments of new life and growth; and the people who have stood beneath its branches.

There is the belief among some spiritual disciplines that everything in creation has a soul or spirit. As I stand beside this tree its spirit is very real. There is something amazing about simply being in its presence! There is a strength and a peace that floods my soul as I connect to its energy.

Yesterday, as I sat beside this tree I was drawn again to the Psalms. I returned to the office and opened to Psalm 92. With the sacred story before me and the image of this mighty tree in my mind, these are the words that flooded my soul:

   Creation  (inspired by Psalm 92 and my tree)

We are blessed by Divine presence

Love that shines like the rising sun

Faithfulness that cradles like the night

Even in the midst of chaos

when all the world seems in turmoil

there is a hope that empowers

and a promise of new life that lingers.

Like the tree that takes root and

grows with strength and dignity

remaining healthy and fruitful even in old age

so too are the children of the earth.

Rooted in love and connected with life

we are grounded and our foundation is firm.

So we raise our voice to sing the melody of praise

United with all creation!

 

Blessings, Valerie

In the midst of this… Bubbles!

“I lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence does my help come?”   ~ Psalm 121

This is the psalm that has been running through my heart these last couple of days. Dealing with loss and difficulties of any sort is not an easy thing. Whether that be the death of a family member, the loss of a job, dealing with stressful family situations, difficulties at work or the many other things that can turn life upside down. In the midst of this we wonder sometimes where we will get the strength the deal with the next bump in road. Where will our help come from?  Psalm 121 goes on to talk about the Divine presence that is very real and surrounds us through all the comings and goings of life. 

Yesterday I visited with a friend whose husband died a few months ago. It was the first time we had a chance since then to connect and share some time together. During the visit we talked about lawn bugs, broken clothes lines, feelings of aloneness, grief and sorrow and bubbles. A lot of our time was reflecting on those things that have been able to help in the journey, the moments when the Divine presence is real. We also talked about what is not helpful – cliché’s that simply do not speak to the situation; questions that really should not be asked, like “Do you think you will find someone else” and other such things. In the midst of this my friend shared one story that, I think, sums up what Divine presence looks like and the kind of help that really makes a difference when the shadows are threatening to overwhelm. With her permission, I want to share this with you.

“One day, after her husband’s death, my friend was home alone. She was feeling deeply her loss and had been crying. In her words “I looked quite the mess!” There were things however that needed to be done, like taking out the compost. She wiped her eyes and proceeded to carry out this mindless but necessary task. As she neared the end of the driveway the two little girls from next door approached. They said hi and some other idle chit chat and went on their merry way. Later that day the girl’s Father called to let my friend know that the girls noticed she was upset and they wondered why. He told them about the death of her husband. Not long after the girls arrived at the back door with a bottle of bubbles. “Do you want to come out and blow bubbles with us?” they asked. My friend was not really feeling it but decided she would. They blew bubbles together, told stories and laughed as a huge bubble landed right on my friends face. The next day the girls returned with a bottle of bubbles and a note explaining that these were for her for when she felt sad. When she did she could just go outside and blow bubbles, laugh and feel better.”

Inspired by psalm 121

I lift up my eyes and I wonder…

I wonder where my help will come from.

Will there be moments of laughter again?

Will I ever feel “ normal”?

Then the voice of children

A knock on the door

Bubbles galore.

Running through the grass

Wind in my hair

Laughter ringing in the air.

This is holy  this moment sacred

I know the presence of Divine

Since that day my friend has blown her bubbles – sometimes alone and sometimes with her young friends. She has found strength in these moments and is able to take one more step toward healing and wholeness. 
My prayer is that if you are in this place of shadows you will take a moment and blow some bubbles and open yourself to Spirit.

Blessings,Valerie

Our Mission as Christian

Good morning

 

On Saturday I poured my regular morning coffee and set out to check in on social media . I came across an article about an Anglican Church that had welcomed a Muslim community into their space. It was a wonderful story of solidarity, unity, community and love. It was, I thought, an example of what can happen when people move beyond the differences and embrace the common bond we share as brothers and sisters of the Universe.

 

Then I continued reading some of the comments posted and began to feel sick!! Such fear and hatred from people who call themselves Christian ranting about how wrong this picture is. Some comments talked about how the Christian way is the only path to the Divine and that people who believe otherwise must be converted. One comment suggested that the Christian God and the Muslim God are different. One person named that to see a Christian Minster and a Muslim kneeling in prayer side by side was a mockery of the Gospel.

 

I found myself wondering:

                What Bible do they read? What Jesus do they know?

 

When I read the stories of Jesus, in whose footsteps I have chosen to walk, I do not find Jesus turning anyone away. In fact, the opposite is true!

Jesus was about breaking down barriers, crossing lines of division, and opening doors of dialogue. When he broke bread with community I do not recall anytime when he said “ you must believe everything that I do and treat those who don’t with distain.”  I do remember that he said “ all the law and the prophets can be summed up in this manner. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.”  And St Paul reminds us that  in Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female but that we are all one.

 

Someone asked what the point of evangelism is if we do not expect that others must believe what we do. I thought about that for a minute ( only a minute) and this would be my answer:  As a follower of Jesus my task is not to shove rhetoric and doctrine down someone’s  throat. Rather my task is to live into the vision that Jesus had. To do that I must model love, compassion, justice, joy , forgiveness, reconciliation, community and so much more. I am responsible for creating space where every child of the Universe has the opportunity to experience Divine presence and live to their full potential.

 

Last winter Chris and I wrote a piece of music for the “Choirs for Comfort “ and I think these words reflect what it means to be an evangelist and to live the dream of Jesus

                                “ When we all sing together

and draw on each person’s melody

                                Our voices will grow stronger,

our message will ring clear

though we are different

we can still show unity.

 

When we all sing together

And in true solidarity we stand

The light shines through the darkness

Our vision becomes clear

We can work for justice in the land”

 

This is what Jesus calls us to do. The day that we stand side by side, hand in hand with people regardless of race, religion, colour , creed, sexuality, gender … That is when we will have fulfilled our mission as Christian.

 

May it be so.

 

Blessings

Valerie

 

Reminders of the Week

 

Mark your Calendars Now!!!!   Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra in Concert.  August 30th 7pm. Tickets are on sale now!!! All proceeds from this concert will go to the ongoing work of the church.

 

Don’t forget  every Wednesday at noon free concerts at the church featuring local artists!  Bring your lunch and have your soul fed!

A Glimpse of the Sacred

Good afternoon!!

On Saturday I had the privilege of celebrating a wedding on the beach with a family from our congregation. It was amazing! The sun was shining, a slight breeze blowing and people gathered from all over. Some came from as far away as Florida for this gathering. When I arrived people were sitting in chairs around the property, laughing and chatting. Some people were on the beach enjoying the warm waters of the Northumberland Strait. Some were tossing balls or just running through the grass. People of all ages, shapes and sizes gathered to celebrate. AS I mingled with those gathered and took in the scene before me I could not help but think “ Now this is a slice of paradise!”. I was reminded of the story in the gospel named for Matthew where Jesus talks about the Divine Realm being like a wedding banquet. Here , in this moment, I believe we truly experienced something sacred and were given a glimpse of the world as it should be.

After the wedding I headed back to Truro to attend a concert that was taking place at the church – Alan Syliboy and the Thundermakers. Now I will admit that there was a part of me that was simply ready to go home and call it a day but I felt I needed to be present at the church so that is where I went. And I am blessed because I did! What an evening of deep spirit, the thinning of the veil between human and Divine, and food for the soul. The evening began with two young dancers from the Mi’kmaq community. One was a “Jingle Dancer” and we were told that these are dances of healing. The other was a “Butterfly Dancer” whose dance is done in celebration and gratitude. To watch them move transported one to another place. I could feel the power of their movements and joy of creation. I took some pictures as they danced and this is my favourite:

 

 

Following this came the offering of the band . There were many things that were exceptional about this but one that I want to reflect on briefly. The lead singer invited us to experience a prayer chant in the Mi’kmaq tradition. Before he began he explained that when the Mi’kmaq people sing a prayer chant they do not use words because they believe that the Creator does not speak as we do. The Creator speaks the language of the heart and so we must pray with the heart. Then the community drum began to beat, accompanied by some sounds from the stringed instruments that are difficult to explain and then Mr. Francis began to chant. Within moments I could feel the energy in the room change and there was a connection with something beyond this physical realm. The haunting sound simply filled the air and I could feel an embrace that was peaceful and comforting. For a brief moment I was cradled in the arms of love and my soul rejoiced.

While Jesus never talked about this as being the Divine Realm, in this moment I have no doubt that we were given a glimpse of the sacred and Divine and human met.

 

Blessings
Valerie

I Wonder “But How?”

Good morning!

As I sit to the computer this morning and prepare to write my reflection there are many things running around in my head. It has been a couple of heavy weeks since I returned from vacation – heart attack, cancer diagnosis, pregnancy issues, other illnesses, and a couple of deaths. As I reflected on this earlier in the week I could hear my friend Donna’s voice (Donna is one of the people who died this week and with whom I have been journeying for a little while) say “Psalm 46 has been my companion on this journey”.

In Psalm 46 we read these words “God is my refuge and my strength a very present help in times of trouble.”

I thought about these words and found myself wondering “but how?” How is this thing we call God able to provide us with strength and comfort and peace? Now you might be wondering why I, an ordained minister in the church, would be grappling with a question such as this. After all, this is what I live and breathe. It is what I try to communicate in a variety of ways every day. However, even for me, there are times I still wonder. There are times when I struggle to see the sense in the things that are going on around me. There are times when the presence of the Divine seems very far away and even absent. And when there are multiple things happening that seem to be unjust or just plain wrong, when there are people around me who are suffering and it makes no sense, even I have those moments of uncertainty and I wonder where God is in the midst of this. I wonder….

Then, more often than not, something happens! Something that lifts the veil and speaks to my soul in such a way that the sacred is tangible and real. These are the moments that remind me of a power and energy in the universe, which people call by many names, that is indeed a comfort and strength . This presence is something that weaves into your very being.

Yesterday, into the midst of these two weeks of not so good stuff, came such a moment. We drove to Woodstock to check in with our daughter, Terri, and to visit for the afternoon. I was given the most amazing gift! It was very hot by mid-afternoon so my grandson and I walked down to the river for some cooling off time and some water play. For two hours I stepped out of the everyday world and was invited into a world where rocks became boats and horses and best friends, sticks became rafts, grass became homes for the water people, little fish became whales. Laughter, imagination and story became the order of the day. Divine presence was there in every word, in every moment of laughter and in the times of silence. It was a sacred time and I indeed felt comfort, strength and peace.

This morning I sit at my computer to compile my thoughts and find myself in the midst of another one of these moments. The window in my office is open and outside a young girl is painting. Her voice lifts through the air and into my office. What I hear is this “I love my daddy. My daddy is the greatest. I love my daddy.” In a tune of her own creating and in the words of her heart she brings a lift to my spirit and a smile to my lips. It is a sacred time and I feel strength and comfort and peace.

So how is, what many call God, present and able to bring strength? Exactly like this.

May it be so for you.

Blessings
Valerie

Reminders of the week

Alan Syliboy and the Thundermakers Saturday at 7pm!!!!!