Changing Seasons

Good morning                                                                                                                                      Wednesday, March 13th

It is dull and grey outside the window and we just avoided the predicted winter storm. Thank Goodness!! I find that by the middle of March we are feeling a little lethargic and beginning to dream of warmer days with sunshine and possibility. At least I know that is where I tend to be. And there are signs that this will come. The evenings are growing longer and the bitter chill of the winter has lost its edge. When the sun does shine there is a certain amount of warmth to it that catches and lifts us up. I must say, I love the changing seasons with their uniqueness and differentness. Each one invites us into a new space. As Spring approaches we know that the seeds that have been dormant just beneath the surface will begin to take on new life and the smell of the earth coming alive will fill the air. Now I realize that today this is only a dream for Spring is still a little way off but , for me, knowing that it will come makes a difference.

Easter is just around the corner and the long weeks of waiting, reflecting, struggling will come to an end. We will stand again in the light of Easter morn and proclaim “ He is Risen!” There will be a change in our focus and the breath of new life will begin to take hold.

I share with you today the words of Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr in “The Heart’s Journey Through The Seasons” They write these Antiphons “that express the human longing to be open to the truth that each season brings.”

O Midwife of Spring
Come! Come encourage what needs to be born in us.
Draw us out of winter’s burturing womb.
Teach us to believe in unopened buds.
Accompany us into a world starved for new life. O Come!

O Seed buried in the Soil,
Come! Come die to your seed-like condition.
Break through the darkness that has cradled your life.
Pierce the hard husk of all that we cling to.
Urge us to listen to the quiet sound of growing. O Come!

O Hidden Life Unveiled,
Come! Come, welcome guest.
Set free our reluctance to life fully and deeply.
Awaken us to the beauty that holds and enfolds us.
Open our eyes to all that we can become. O Come!

O Spring Rising our of Winter’s Arms,
Come! Come melt what is frozen in us.
Open the buds of our longing with your gentle breezes.
Soften the hard earth of our hearts with your rains.
Breathe warmth upon the cold places in us. O Come!

O Green Mantle of Creation,
Come! Come clothe us with the colour of spring.
Paint our fields and forests with your artist’s brush.
Leap into our lives with a lover’s enthusiasm.
Fill us with boundless energy and faithful hearts. O Come!

O Child of Resurrection,
Come! Come dancing out of winter’s gloom.
Enliven us with your radiant hope.
Lure us through the closed doors of our doubt.
Celebrate with us the wonder of risen life. O Come!


Let Go – Feel the Freedom

Good morning                                                                                                                                      ~ Wednesday, March 7th 

A couple of weeks ago I changed internet providers. The deal came with TV, so for the first time in many years I now have TV in my house. On Monday I headed home over lunch and decided to click on the TV. What came up was a program about hoarding. Many of you have probably seen it before, it’s called “Buried Alive”. Now, after watching for about 10 minutes my instinct was to start gutting my house. I resisted the urge, finished watching and then headed back to the office. However, this program has been running through my mind ever since.

First, I began to think about how much “stuff” we accumulate on the journey. Perhaps, the majority of us are no where near the extreme portrayed in this show, but we certainly collect material things. It is difficult not to really, in a world defined by materialism. Yet , how much of it do we really need? Imagine the extra money we would have if we lived in a minimalist manner!

Then I began to think about how much this kind of hoarding also happens in our emotional and spiritual lives. Unfortunately the things we often hoard are the negative things that produce an energy that essentially saps the life out of us. Things like anger, bitterness, hatred, jealousy, envy just to mention a few. Over a period of time these emotions build to a point that they become debilitating and make it impossible for us to move forward and enjoy the wonders that surround us.

In the programme, as the hoarders started to let go of the “stuff”, to clean out the garbage there was a gradual return to life. With each bag removed, even though it was difficult, you could see burdens lifted, a sense of relief appear and an opening of doors happen that allowed the world to take on a very different feel. The same thing can happen when we work through and dispose of our emotional baggage. Lent is the perfect time to do that. We have been invited to step, with Jesus, into the wilderness. Here, we are challenged to address those things that have accumulated and prevent us from being truly alive. I believe that as each negative thought, feeling, emotion is removed and thrown out there is a burden lifted, tension disappears and the doors begin to open so that we can breathe and be really alive.

It is often said that life is short and indeed it is. When that life is spent hoarding negativity it feels even shorter. My prayer is that you might find the strength to let go of those things that are barriers to enjoying life and the beauty that surrounds. May you breathe deeply and feel the freedom that comes from cleaning house and making room for possibility. May your tension disappear and may your doors open.

May it be so.


Stuck in a Dry Spell or Perhaps Just the Sooners

Good morning                                                                                                                             Wednesday, February 21st

I’ve been thinking these last few days about dry spells. Those times in life when the creative juices seem to be clogged and everything stops. Or when you go through those days of what I call “the sooners”, you would sooner be doing something else but don’t know what and so you are stuck. There doesn’t seem to be any real rhyme or reason for when this happens, it just does. This has been on my mind because that is where I have found myself these last couple of months. I have done what needs to be done and engaged in the life and ministry of the church but, for me, there has been something missing. If I knew how to change this I imagine dry spells might be shorter or not at all.

However, what I have discovered is that these times do eventually come to an end. Perhaps then, this is nature’s way of making us slow down a little, giving our creativity and our spirits time to recharge and renew. Perhaps the reminder is that we should make time for these fallow moments so that we can be our best selves.

It appears that I have come to the end of this last dry spell. Coincidentally, it seems to have coincided with the beginning of Lent. Now this is a little ironic because normally Lent is that time when we, as Christians, move intentionally into the wilderness. Here we step back a little and spend time doing less and reflecting more. Having said that, perhaps it does make sense for me since this is the time of year that has always touched my soul, opened doors of possibility and engaged my spirit as no other time of the year does.

This season, Chris and I, decided to invite you to explore with us different characteristics of Jesus and to discern how this informs who we are called to be. A few weeks ago when we began the process Chris suggested perhaps we might write a new hymn to go along with this. Easy enough! Except I was in the full swing of dryness. No matter how much we talked, or how much I tried to concentrate on what we were doing I simply could not produce anything. Then it happened!! I had begun my own Lenten discipline of fasting and the fog lifted. All of a sudden words were flowing through my mind, not just for this song but for a couple of others as well. Scriptures and ideas for upcoming services started surfacing and my energy level started to rise. I was back!!

This coming Sunday we will sing a new song!! Today I share with you the words.

Now We, Like Jesus

– Valerie Peyton Kingsbury and Christopher Bowman

He walked into the marketplace. His arms were open wide.
He offered there his friendship, hand in hand and side by side.
On mountainside or by the sea his mission was to teach.
With words of truth and wisdom, gathered crowds he tried to reach.

Now we, like Jesus, walk the walk. We teach, we heal, we grow.
Our mission is to serve the world, to speak the truth we know.
We’re called to challenge systems of oppression, hate, and fear.
In welcoming with open arms, the vision is made clear.

The broken down and those in pain, they came to him for care.
He opened doors to wholeness, off’ring hope and comfort there.
He did not want to rule the world but came to love and serve.
He lifted up the lowly sharing all without reserve (Refrain)

As prophet, he spoke daring words of justice, love, and peace.
He challenged those in power saying empires now must cease.
Against the system he rebelled and tried to right the wrong,
exposing the divisions that existed far too long. (Refrain)

Blessings, Valerie

Reminders of the week

Sunday February 25 – We will gather for worship at 10:30am. This will be followed by the Annual Meeting!!!!! Lunch will be provided, just plan to attend.

Looking Ahead
Sunday March 4 – “Sing a Joyful Song” Concert with Truro Youth Singers, Cantabile Boys Choir and Cantabile Impact! Tickets $15, $5 student/under-waged

Thursday March 29 – Maundy Thursday Service at St. David’s 7pm
Friday March 30 – Good Friday at First United at 10:30AM

Sunday April 1 – Early Morning at Riverfront Park 7am
Easter Communion 10:30am At First

The Beginning of a Journey

Good morning all!!                                                                                                                     Wednesday, February 14th ♡

Today is Ash Wednesday and hundreds of thousands of Christians will, at some point throughout the day, make their way to a sacred place to receive the ashes and mark the beginning of their Lenten journey. We are invited to step into the wilderness, to take time over the next 40 days to reflect and renew our spirits. Traditionally it has been a time of repentance, of turning around , of cleansing and of facing our temptations as we prepare for Easter. This time is meant to mirror Jesus’ own time in the wilderness where he prepared for his ministry. While the practice of receiving of the ashes can be traced back many centuries , at the time of the reformation many reformed churches stopped the practice and it is only in recent years that it is being rediscovered by some.

I grew up in Newfoundland and part of the church that places its roots in the Reformation. As such, it was not our tradition to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, that was something my Roman Catholic friends did. Our marking of the season of Lent began on Shrove Tuesday. On that night, as was the custom, all of the rich foods found in the pantry were used up (meats, flour, sugar, milk, eggs etc) in preparation for the 40 days of fasting. Now, of course, the best way to use these foods up are in a big feed of pancakes!! While this practice is observed in many places and also by those who receive ashes on Wednesday, in Newfoundland it included other things as well.

“Traditionally the evening before major religious dates have been associated, perhaps only in playful ways but also in fairly serious ways, with supernatural notions. Shrove Tuesday is the last day of Shrovetide, the day before Lent begins, and it has for centuries had special things associated with it, in this case playful divination,” says Dr. Philip Hiscock, a folklorist at Memorial University of Newfoundland who focuses on the folklore of Newfoundland and Labrador and the evolution of custom.

So when we had our pancakes there were other things baked into them. I remember ripping open the pancake to see what I received. Of course we were all looking for the dime!! But there were other things, all having a meaning

* The piece of string means you’ll be (or marry) a fisher
* The piece of wood means you’ll be (or marry) a carpenter
* The wedding ring means you will marry
* The button means you will not marry
* The penny means you’ll be poor
* The dime means you’ll be rich
* The nail means you’ll be (or marry) a blacksmith or a carpenter; in some families it
means you were the next to die
* The pencil stub means you’ll be (or marry) a teacher
* finding a holy medal means you will join a religious order

All fun aside, whether the start of Lent was in the festivities of Shrove Tuesday or in the receiving of the ashes on this day, my prayer for you is that this will be the beginning of a journey that will challenge, empower and renew you.

Blessings, Valerie

In Need of Power Nozzle

Good morning all;

This morning as we gathered in the office the topic of conversation was power nozzles! That’s right, I did say power nozzles! Apparently we don’t have one for the vacuum in the sanctuary and as a result it takes excessive amounts of time to suck up crumbs, always leaving a few behind. Chris spent last night trying to take up chip crumbs after the boys choir practice and went over and over the same spots again and again with no real amount of success. It was frustrating and felt like a total waste of time.

I began to think about this in terms of what we sometimes do in our own lives and in the life of the church. How often do we go over and over the same things expecting a different result? How often do we try to use inefficient equipment to carry out the task of sharing the gospel and then wonder why there is no response? Sometimes it feels like we go around and around in circles or back and forth over the same stuff and still we are unable to complete the task or do what needs to be done. I think we are in need of a power nozzle!

So lets tap into the source of our power and allow that to direct us in more efficient ways. It is time to stop going over things again and again, we need to listen and share and then decide using the power nozzle to propel us into a new way of being.

I leave you with the word’s of St. Paul to the Ephesians:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the God from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of divine glory, you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through the Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Jesus who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be power and glory. Forever and ever. Amen”

May it be so

Reminders of the Week:
Saturday, at 3pm ~ 14th Annual “Choirs for Comfort”

Sunday – Joyful Noise! Choir will be singing

Tuesday, February 13th – It’s Pancake Day! 11:30 – 1pm, 4:30 – 5:30 or 6 – 7pm. Tickets $10 for Adult and $5 for children under 12

Wednesday, February 14th – Ash Wednesday 7pm. We will gather in the church with our brothers and sisters from St. David’s to mark the beginning of the Lenten journey.

The Mental Health Journey

Good morning

A year ago I wrote a piece about mental health that inspired a group of women in the church and community to found a mental health support group hosted out of Frist United. At our meeting in February we will celebrate our first year anniversary. During the year we have opened some doors and partnered with a variety of organizations in the community; we have tried to create a safe space for people who are dealing with mental health issues to gather, tell their story and support one another along the way and we have had some fun on the journey. Today I give thanks to the women who joined me in the venture and am ever grateful for their dedication and commitment. I also give thanks for the people who have allowed me to be part of their journey as a result of this – amazing, strong, gifted and beautiful, each one.

While we have made a slight dent in the system I am reminded, yet again, that there are countless numbers of people who struggle every day just to keep their heads above water and for whom there seems to be no help. I am also keenly aware of the number of children and youth who are filled with despair, walking in darkness and feeling very much alone. I do not have statistics to prove it but it certainly seems to me that this is on the rise. Just this past weekend Mark shared with me that one young person killed themselves in our community and a second attempted to but had their attempt intercepted by friends. The effects of this are far reaching and the pain encompasses an entire community.

This morning , as I sit at my computer, I again wonder how I can bring light into the midst of such darkness. I know that there is no definitive answer to my questions. I know that there are many things that need to happen simultaneously to provide what is needed – an increase in funding that provides qualified counselors ; access to these resources for people in all walks of life regardless of economic status; more open discussion and more safe places for people to gather for support and care…. Just to mention a few. And so I continue to offer an ear to listen, a hand to hold and someone with whom to share the journey. I continue to advocate for better services and add more voice whenever I can.

A few days ago, my daughter posted her picture on her Facebook page with the following quote

“I will not be another flower, picked for its beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find and impossible to forget.” ~ Erin Van Vuren

When I read it my heart soared to know that my daughter has grown into a person with such a wonderful self image and a confidence that enables her to be who she is called to be. I also began to imagine what the world would be like if we were able to impart this kind of attitude and self confidence to all our children.

Then I began to think about the part that faith can play in the journey. There are many passages, stories, words of wisdom from both our sacred and on-going story that can bring peace to the soul and strength for the journey. Certainly, we are reminded again and again that we are not alone. One passage in particular that comes to mind for me is found in the Psalms. Psalm 139 says:

Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.



Colour Outside the Lines

Good morning                                                                                                                                    Wednesday, January 24th

Like most churches we have entered that time of preparing for our annual meeting. This is a time of accountability and a time of visioning. It is what the conversation seems to be focussed on inside the congregation and among clergy. I am part of an on-line group who have been having the annual meeting discussion for several weeks now – clergy who are busy trying to figure out how perhaps those meetings can be done differently, more effectively or how they might be a jumping off point for innovative movement into the new year. For some this is a stressful time because it is a time of decision making and depending on the situation this might include the dreaded budget debate about what we can afford and how can we cut.

When I think about all of this and what we are about here at First United I cannot help but feel that sometimes we get lost in the figures and in the debate and become paralyzed by what is seen as the negative. While it is important that we remain fiscally responsible and some discussions are ones that we must have, when that becomes the focus of our time together it drains energy and has the possibility of sucking the life out of us. When that happens ministry becomes a burden, creativity becomes non-existent, growth is only a dream and decline becomes reality.

This is probably where I get accused of wearing my rose coloured glasses but I happen to believe, with every fibre of my being, that when we actually do ministry, when we live the vision, when we are the change, then great things happen and the spirit lifts us up on eagles wings. Perhaps this is why I love that old movie “Field of Dreams”. If we build it they will come….. I believe that the more we risk, the more we move out of our heads into actually doing something then the more we expand and grow and we become all that we were created to be.

When Jesus called the first disciples he invited them to step into the unknown and be open to doing whatever was needed. When he commissioned and sent them out on their own he instructed them to take nothing with them but to depend on the hospitality of others and to simply do what they were called to do. In essence I hear Jesus saying if you proclaim the gospel, if you seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God then the rest will fall into place. Now this is a very difficult place for many of us to be ( especially those, like me, who really need to be in control). But it has also been my experience that when we actually live our calling then things have a way of being just the way they are supposed to be.

It is my hope, my dream, that perhaps this year we might learn to “colour outside the lines”. Perhaps this year we might we empowered to do ministry; build that place where love is lived; open the doors to possibility and promise and go wherever the spirit leads us!

May it be so.


Reminders of the week

Don’t Forget to drop of your recycling on Saturday 9 to noon, in the parking lot on Young Street next to “Al Weather Windows and Doors”.

As a Child of the Universe

Good morning                                                                                                                         Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

On Sunday many Christian communities celebrated the baptism of Jesus. This is the event that marked the beginning of his ministry. In this moment he was claimed, consecrated and sent out. His ministry would bring light, love and challenge to a broken and hurting world. We celebrate the gospel he proclaimed and the life he lived that was marked by justice and the breaking down of barriers.

I was blessed this past week to witness and participate in the baptism of my grandson, Riley. I cannot help but imagine where the journey will take him and how he will fulfill his ministry as a child of the universe.

Over the last month five of our family have finished their earthly journey and their spirits have been released back into the universe from whence they came. Each of them at one point came to the waters and were claimed as Christ’s own forever. As I look back over their lives I see the ways in which they have lived into their own ministries and embodied the life of Jesus in this time and place. Some sang the song of the universe and brought joy into the lives of many; others visited the sick; fed the hungry and others were a voice of justice and hope in the world. For their gifts I give thanks.

In baptism we are claimed and consecrated and sent out to be the hands and feet of Christ. You are a beloved child and you are blessed. May you live into your calling and be a blessing to the world.


Reminders of the Week

On Saturday at 11am we will gather in the church to celebrate the life of Ed Lockhart. If you have a memory/ a word to share about Ed please email to me by Friday. If you are able to lend your voice to the choir please be at the church by 10:15am on Saturday.

On Saturday at 2pm we will gather at Mattatall~Varner Funeral home to celebrate the life of Bud Tarrant.

On Saturday at 2pm there will be a celebration for the life of Merle Nelson at Knox United in Brookfield.

I resolved to walk the road to Bethlehem

Good morning all!


We have once again turned a corner and ushered in a new year. It is hard to believe that 2018 has begun and within the next week we will put away our Christmas decorations for another year. This is a time when people are busy making resolutions as they look at the blank slate in front of them. Perhaps it is to quit something, take something up, change a behaviour, face a challenge, spend more time with family, right a wrong….. whatever you have resolved to do this coming year I pray you have strength, courage and success!!

For me the new year began with the first Sunday of Advent. It was then that I turned my face again toward something that has the power to change the world. I resolved to walk the road to Bethlehem and open myself to whatever Spirit had to offer. Now the real journey begins as we move away from the stable and the wonderous birth of a child to embrace who and what this child became. We will be faced again with the decision to follow him out into the market place and to be his hands and feet in this time and place.

My prayer, as we move into 2018, is that we will have ears to hear the voice of the one who calls us to step out on a new road; that we will have the eyes to see the possibilities that lie before us; and that we will have the resolve to follow wherever the spirit leads.




Love, Hope and a Guiding Light

It is a blustery and cold day outside the church here in Truro but we have power and for that I am grateful. As we celebrated the light of the world on Christmas Day some 158,000 households lost their power and so had to find light and warmth in another way. We were fortunate because in Lower Sackville the power only went out in certain areas. While the house was in darkness we were able to pack everything up and head to the church which had power to finish and enjoy our Christmas dinner. In some ways this was probably fitting for our family and it was a wonderful place to gather and celebrate.

We had three wonderful services on Christmas eve and each one had it’s own unique personality and joy. When I finished on Christmas Eve I would have said that the service which spoke to my spirit the most was the 10 pm service as we journeyed to the manger in the shadow of the cross. However, today I would change that to say that Christmas morning was the one that will rest in my being as we head into the new year. 13 of us gathered around the Christmas tree and the fireplace on Christmas morning to share stories and memories and to sing. (And for a group that had no instrument to back us up I must say we did pretty good!)

I asked those around the circle to share a Christmas memory that has stuck with them over the years. What touched my soul was what followed. I had expected people to talk about a particular event, or present or perhaps family gathering or a tradition that they carried with them. But that wasn’t the case.

The first person started to talk about not one Christmas but the meaning of Christmas that really should be present not just one day of the year but all year. He said that what sticks with him is the message of love and hope that we share and how that permeates every aspect of life.

The second person chimed in with a message that was sent to them in a Christmas cared which said “Never give up” and how this too is part of the message that we need to carry with us all the time.

Another person began to talk about leaving home and coming to Truro and how the church was the place that she has felt this love and hope and how spending Christmas with her church family and friends is what speaks to her.

And still another continued with how the church family, who is always there, holds this message of hope and love in a real and tangible way.

As I listened to these voices there was a song in my heart and I knew that the light of Christ was burning bright.