Kars, ON, Canada
Archive - 2017
Archive - 2018
This Week at Worship
Sunday, June 9, 2019
The weekly email is arriving a day early as I shall be attending part of the inaugural meeting of the Eastern Ontario Outaouais Regional Council (EOORC) of The United Church in Smiths Falls on Friday. EOORC replaces the former Ottawa Presbytery of the United Church which disappeared with the restructuring of the wider church.
What a beautiful day it is. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the smell of fresh plowed fields and mowed lawns is in the air and there is not a cloud in the sky. You might remember last Sunday that I confessed, tongue in cheek, that every time I washed my car lately it would rain and rain and rain. I haven't washed my car since last week and look what we have today and in the days to come, gorgeous summer like weather. I promise not to wash my car in the immediate future.
This Sunday, June 9, we gather for Joint Worship at Trinity United, Kars at 11 a.m. to celebrate Trinity's Anniversary and give thanks for 157 years of faithful witness to God's living presence in our world. As we celebrate, we welcome guest preacher Rev. Dr. Jessica Hetherington of St. Paul's, Richmond who will co-preside with Rev. Grant. We will also celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion for the Season of Sabbath Rest. There will be a children's time and an activity for the younger ones to undertake during worship. Following worship we are invited to gather for a light lunch downstairs in the church hall. As this will be my last Sunday with you for some time, I hope to see you so we might wish one another a relaxing time of sabbath rest. Do note that next Sunday - June 16, we begin our Summer Sabbath Joint Worship at Trinity at 10 a.m.
Our readings for this Sunday (Pentecost Sunday) - are from the Book of Acts, Chapter 2, verses 1 through 21 and the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, verses 8 through 17. In our reading from Acts we hear that the Spirit of the Living God comes to all people, everywhere. In our Gospel reading, Jesus promises his followers that the Spirit will be "his presence in his absence." Let us gather together to welcome Rev. Jessica whose sermon is titled "Church in the Country" and to give God our praise, our thanksgiving and our faithful worship this joyous Sunday.
P.S. The last St. James Community Breakfast before a summer break takes place this Saturday, June 9 from 8-10 a.m. at St. James, Osgoode. On what promises to be a beautiful morning, come on out for great food and great company; come out and fuel up before you tackle your outdoor chores. All are welcome. Free-will offering.
Blessings on your week as it comes to an end. See you this Sunday if not before.
Sunday, June 2, 2019
Happy last day of May to you. Yet another month has flown by. Surely summer is just around the corner! I wasn't sure if I should use the exclamation mark or a question mark. I decided in faith that indeed summer is around the corner, so opted for the exclamation mark.
This Sunday, June 2, we gather for worship at St. James (9:30 a.m.) and Trinity (11 a.m.). This is the last Sunday we will host 2 services until late September. Next Sunday - June 9 is Joint Worship (11 a.m.) at Trinity to celebrate their 157th Anniversary. On Sunday, June 16 we begin our Summer Sabbath worship with a single joint service at Trinity, 10 a.m.
Our readings this Seventh Sunday of Easter are a continuation of our reading from the Book of Acts and the Gospel of John. Our reading from Acts, Chapter 16, verses 16 through 34 relates a story of bondage and freedom. There is the unnamed "slave girl" whose life is one of bondage to those who make money off her but who is freed to new life in Jesus. Our reading from Acts also offers an account of the bondage and freedom that Paul and Silas experience as well as their jailer. Paul and Silas are miraculously freed of their chains while the jailer (and his family) is freed from spiritual bondage. Our reading from the Gospel of John, Chapter 17, verses 20 through 26 is the last part of Jesus' farewell speech to his disciples. In this reading we hear of Jesus praying and the theme of unity. Indeed, Jesus did pray which has me thinking of "Prayer as an Act of Intimacy with God." Might we gather together this Sunday to listen for God's Living Words for us?
A special plug - the Village of Osgoode is hosting a community-wide garage sale tomorrow - Saturday. In conjunction with that, St. James is hosting a bake sale from 8 to 10 a.m. in the Church. Drop by to have a coffee and pick up some homemade goodies! Guaranteed wholesome and delicious.
I hope to see you Sunday as this is my second last Sunday before I depart until late September.
Blessings on your Friday and weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, May 26, 2019
Happy Friday to you. I hope you've had a good week and have gotten outside to enjoy the beauty of creation (at least on days when it wasn't wet and cold!).
This Sunday we gather at St. James at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. for worship. At Trinity, we will also see the final session of Sunday School until the Fall. To mark the end of Sunday school, we are hosting a celebratory BBQ following worship. Everyone is welcome: good food, good people, much laughter and joy. Bring yourself, your kids and grandkids!
Our reading from Acts is straight forward - there is no drama. It simply reports of a woman by the name of Lydia becoming a convert to following in the way of Jesus, in the way of God. This passage mirrors most of our lives. Nothing dramatic (or not too dramatic) takes place in our lives. We simply live and go about our lives believing in God and doing our best to follow in the way of Jesus.
Our reading from the Gospel of John continues what is known as Jesus' farewell" message to his disciples and friends. They are still gathered together with Jesus in the "upper room" the night before Jesus is to be handed over to his death. In our reading, Jesus continues to teach them and promises that while he will physically leave them, the Spirit will be present to guide and lead them. This Sunday, I am reflecting on verse 27 which reads: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." My sermon title is "Sometimes I am Fearful" and I think about that as my time with you draws ever quicker to an end for the summer. I have been thinking lately about what transitions in your life, in our collective life together, I will not be present for during my summer sabbath. In my reflecting as I prepare to write a sermon, I note that sometimes in the face of transitions, it's difficult not to let our hearts be troubled. Might we be together this Sunday to explore God's living words for us this day.
Happy Friday and a blessed weekend wherever you may go.
See you Sunday.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Happy Friday to you. I begin my weekly note with a confession. I must really stop thinking about ministry and my work so much. I had the oddest dream last night - I offered a pop quiz during worship. And there were prizes. That sounds so unlike me. Not! I think I must have dreamt that as I was thinking of children/youth/young-at-heart time at worship this Sunday knowing I'd also need to stop at Bulk Barn on my way in this morning to pick up a few things. Not that you need the promise of treats to come to church. Surely you don't! And, if I am wrong, please let me have this moment of denial.
We are invited to gather at worship this Sunday of a long weekend (apparently it's the unofficial start to summer). St. James gathers at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. All are welcome. Come just as you are.
We continue our Season of Easter readings from the Book of Acts and the Gospel of John. Our first reading is from Acts, Chapter 11, verses 1 through 18. In this reading is the question of who is welcomed by God - is it just the clean? the circumcised? Or does God's love redeem all people? The message from Acts is that God welcomes all people into relationship - just as they are.
Our Gospel reading is from John, Chapter 13, verses 31 through 35. This reading is traditionally read on Maundy Thursday - the last night Jesus spends with his disciples and friends - washing their feet and eating a meal together before Jesus is led to his crucifixion on Good Friday. The dominant, actually, the only theme in these 5 verses is that of love: "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another." Such a beautiful sentence that is integral to our faith as followers of Jesus the Christ.
As I reflect on the Gospel reading, I think of the life of the late Jean Vanier who died to this life, May 7, 2019. Vanier was the founder of L'Arche, a place of welcome and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities. Today there are 149 L'Arche communities in 37 countries around the world. Vanier, the son of a former Canadian Governor General, was not a priest and had no special training but felt called to be present and live with those whom society rejected and isolated. This is living out the call of Jesus, the commandment of Jesus "to love one another." Vanier said in explaining why he followed his calling in life that "I just want to be friends with Jesus."
See you on Sunday as we gather to give our thanksgiving to God and hear God's living words for us this day.
Blessings to you wherever you may be this long weekend.
Sunday, May 12, 2019
Good day to you. It's a gray, wet day. As you look out the window or get out and about, how can you not think of the tune "gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face. Brush off the clouds and cheer up, put on a happy face..." The ducks are happy, so are the robins (but not the worms), the grass, all of creation. Everything is getting a Spring cleaning as new life emerges!
This Sunday we gather at worship at St. James at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. We shall pray, sing, and offer our thanksgiving as we listen for God's living words for us. Let us gather together in community.
We have 3 scripture readings this Sunday. As we remain in the Season of Easter, our first reading comes from the Book of Acts, Chapter 9, verses 36 through 43. In this reading, we continue to hear the post-Easter theme of hope for new life. Our second reading (which we will read responsively) comes from Psalm 23. It is well known by many and offers the image of "God as our Shepherd." Our last scripture reading is from the Gospel of John, Chapter 10, verses 22 through 30. In this reading, Jesus refers to himself as a Shepherd and that "my sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me." As I reflect on our readings for this Sunday, I have been wondering about what "Things get in the Way of the Way!" In other words, things do get in the way of following Jesus. I just might have a few thoughts to share about that. Let's spend time with one another and with God this Sunday.
A special announcement not listed in the attached weekly announcements: Tomorrow - a glorious and beautiful Saturday is in the forecast and you are invited to come out to St. James Community Breakfast from 8 a.m. thru 10 a.m. Great food, conversation, people and so much more. Free-will offering. Before you head downstairs for breakfast (or after), pop upstairs for the pie and roll sale. Guaranteed deliciousness awaits you. Come early, buy often. A word to the wise - pies and rolls have been known to sell out right quick. Don't be disappointed!
Blessings on your Friday and weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, May 5, 2019
I am back and it is good to be back. A week away post Lent, Holy Week and Easter Sunday is what my body and soul needed (it was just a bit too short). Overall though, I had a good week off - visiting the local laundromat a few times (our washing machine died and cannot be brought back to life no matter how much I pray over it), driving to Toronto to overnight and take in a play (Dear Evan Hansen - highly recommended), and then from Toronto we headed "home" to Grimsby to see my Mom for a few days. It was good to go "home." Then of course upon return, it was time to file my tax return and fortunately, I get a refund which has now been spent before the money is in my bank account on a new washing machine.
I am very much back into the swing of things and will say this week has flown by. Much, much too quickly I might add.
We gather this Sunday at St. James (9:30 a.m.) and Trinity (11 a.m.) to continue our Easter celebrations in our singing, praying and listening for a life-giving word from God. We continue our celebrations for the Season of Easter is 50 days in length.
Our Scripture readings are from the Book of Acts, Chapter 9, verses 1 thru 6 and the Gospel of John, Chapter 21, verses 1 thru 19. In our reading from the Book of Acts, we hear the beginning of the story about the conversion of Paul. He is transformed from a person who violently persecuted the early followers of Jesus to becoming a follower of Jesus himself. In our rather long Gospel reading, we hear of the Risen Jesus appearing to his disciples who have had an unproductive night of fishing. Jesus calls to them, speaks to them and just won't leave them alone. Nope. "Jesus Isn't Done With Us!" either. Let's gather together this Sunday to hear God's living words for us.
Weekly announcements are attached. Have a read as there are many! There are so many we had to change how they would be included in the bulletin this Sunday.
Blessings on your Friday and your weekend. See you on a most beautiful Sunday morning.
Sunday, April 19-21, 2019
We entered Holy Week this past Sunday. Holy Week for Christians around the world is the most sacred time of the year and central to our faith. During Holy Week we are invited to spend intentional time with Jesus and with God as we walk towards the cross of Good Friday longing for the resurrection joy of Easter Sunday. There are a number of worship services over the next few days. You are invited to gather as you are able with friends and family members.
Thursday evening, April 18 is our Joint Maundy Thursday Service at St. James, 6:30 p.m. In prayers, scripture readings, meditations and sacred music we take part in three events that took place during Jesus' last night with his friends before he is handed over to be crucified: his washing of his disciples' feet (we symbolically wash hands), his commandment to love one another as he loves us and his call to us when we celebrate Holy Communion (which we will on Thursday evening) to "When you do this, Remember Me."
On Good Friday, April 19, we gather at 10 a.m. with our Presbyterian and Anglican friends at St. Andrew's Presbyterian, Kars for our Ecumenical Good Friday service and walk with the cross. In scripture readings, poetry, prayers and hymns, we mark the last day of Jesus' life. Worship starts at St. Andrew's and then, as we are able, we walk with and carry the cross for a time of worship at various points in Kars including at St. John the Baptist Anglican church. We finish our Good Friday worship at Trinity United. If you cannot walk long distances, feel free to drive from stop to stop. It's more important that you are present as you are able.
Easter Sunday, April 21 begins with a Joint Easter sunrise service. We gather at St. James at 7:30 and walk to the Osgoode Peace Park for a time of worship followed by a light breakfast at St. James. Our Joyful Easter Celebration of "Alleluias in the Air! Christ is Risen!" takes place at St. James (9:30 a.m) and Trinity (11 a.m.). Be prepared to sing, shout Alleluias, enjoy laughter and celebrate the Good News of Resurrection and New Life! Both Trinity and St. James Easter services include the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
Let us join together as the Body of Christ to give God our thanks as people of the Resurrection. All are welcome at one or all of our services: the older, the little ones and everyone in-between. You. Belong. Here!
See you once, twice or many times this week as we walk to Jerusalem and to new life on Easter morning.
Holy week blessings,
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, April 14, 2019
Happy Friday to you. I trust this note finds you contented and smiling. The temperature is warming ever so slowly, the Rideau River and various creeks are opening up and God's creation is slowly awakening to new life. Spring is my favourite time of the year - new life is emerging. I have the same feeling about the Season of Lent and Holy Week - my favourite time of the Christian year. New life - both physical and spiritual is all around us.
This Sunday, April 14, we gather at worship (St. James at 9:30 a.m., Trinity at 11 a.m.) to sing, pray and hear God's living words for us. Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week and we begin the sacred journey through the last days of Jesus' life. This Sunday we shall hear and live again the Palm-Passion story: from Jesus' joyous entry into Jerusalem (and waving palm fronds) to the mockery of a trial and his crucifixion. Our scripture readings are selections from the Gospel of Luke, Chapters 19, 22 and 23. While we may have heard these scripture readings many times over the years, these readings are central to our faith - you cannot skip them if you want to arrive at the Good News of Easter Sunday. As I sit with our readings, I can't help but reflect on Jesus the Christ crucified yesterday and today. Where might you see the Living Christ crucified today? Where might you see God's beautiful creation crucified today? As we consider where crucifixion is taking place in our lives and in our world, where might you see the hope of resurrection to new life? Please join in worship this Sunday to hear and reflect upon the last few days of Jesus' life. All are welcome.
As next week is Holy Week, there are several worship services planned in addition to this Sunday's worship. We have a Joint Maundy Thursday service, 6:30 p.m., April 18 at St. James. In sacred music, scripture and prayers we gather to participate in hand washing and the Sacrament of Holy Communion as we hear of Jesus' last night with his friends. On Good Friday, April 19, we join with our Presbyterian and Anglican friends as we journey with the cross in Kars beginning at St. Andrew's Presbyterian at 10 a.m., stopping along the way, ending at Trinity United. On Easter Sunday, April 21, we are invited to our Joint Easter Sunrise service in Osgoode at 7:30 a.m. (at the Peace Park by the post office) followed by a light breakfast at St. James. And, a few hours later Easter Sunday, April 21, we will have joyful, Alleluia filled Easter worship services, 9:30 a.m. at St. James and 11 a.m. at Trinity with the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Invite your family and friends to join you at any or all our Holy Week services. Everyone is welcome. Without exception. Without condition.
Blessings on your weekend and see you on Sunday,
P.S. Are you hungry? Thinking of breakfast? Did you just think - I am indeed looking for a delicious, leisurely Saturday morning breakfast? St. James is the place to be on Saturday morning for a hearty community breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Great food, exceptional people, abundant conversation and laughter. All are welcome. Free-will offering. And, an inside scoop just for you the reader. There seems to be an Easter theme at the breakfast tables especially if you took on eating chocolate for Lent. Let's just say you will be delighted!
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, April 7, 2019
Happy Friday to you wherever you may be and whenever you happen to read this note. What a beautiful sunny morning it is.
We gather at worship this Fifth Sunday in Lent at St. James, 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. This is the last Sunday in Lent as next Sunday, April 14 is the beginning of Holy Week. More about Holy Week below.
In our first reading from Isaiah, the writer is speaking to the exiled people of Judah living in Babylon. Apparently many are becoming quite "rooted" and even prosperous in this foreign land, perhaps forgetting that they belong to God. Isaiah promises that God is going to do a new thing: a new creation shall spring forth. Isaiah invites his listeners then, and us now, not to look back at what has happened in our past, but to look and see the ways that God is bringing new life within us and around us.
In our Gospel reading, Jesus is in Bethany, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and has gathered with friends over a meal. At some point, Mary (sister of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead), gets up from the meal and anoints Jesus' feet and wipes them with her hair. Mary understands that Jesus is walking towards his death. Judas (who will betray Jesus for a measly 30 pieces of silver) complains loudly and berates her for what she has done. Mary has done this beautiful act of love and compassion for the One walking towards his death. Would we do the same whatever the expense? Let us explore together God's Living Words for us this Sunday.
Holy Week begins next Sunday - April 14. Please see the attached poster outlining our Holy Week services beginning with Palm-Passion Sunday April 14. At worship this Sunday, a copy of the poster is inserted in each worship bulletin for you to take home for easy reference. How about inviting a friend or family member to join you at worship this Holy Week?
For St. James only - please note that an appeal is underway for the St. James Memorial Flower Fund. If you wish to dedicate flowers in memory of someone (flowers will be displayed Easter Sunday before being delivered to various households), please complete the form given out last Sunday which is also available at the doors to the church. Deadline to respond is April 14.
Blessings on your Friday and hope to see you on Sunday.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Happy Friday to you.
While Hallelujahs have been put away for the Season of Lent, how I wish to proclaim one now that we are at the end of March. We knew we would get here, but back in January, February, and even a few weeks ago it seemed we would never get to the end of winter and on to spring. Quietly, I will say to myself this coming Monday, Hallelujah, it is April and April showers will bring May flowers!
This Sunday is the Fourth Sunday in the Season of Lent. We are more than half-way on our journey to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. All are welcome to gather for worship at St. James, 9:30 a.m. and Trinity, 11 a.m.
Our Scripture readings are from the Book of Joshua, Chapter 5, verses 9 through 12 and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 15, verses 1 through 3 and 11b through 32.
In our reading from Joshua, we hear of the dawn of a new day, the past has been rolled away. The people who have wandered for over 40 years in the desert have begun a new chapter in their journey to wholeness. They no longer eat the food of the desert but instead the food of the new land. Through the growth and harvest of this meal, they are reminded of God's abundant love, blessings and peace and healing.
Our Gospel reading is the well-known story of the "Prodigal Son." You know this story: the son who wandered away, squandered his wealth and comes back home empty-handed and with his head hanging low to be greeted in love by his father with a great big feast. His father is happy his son has re-turned. His older brother who stayed home and toiled away helping support the family is angry that the return of his younger brother is being celebrated. Oh, family dynamics of yesterday, family dynamics of today.
As I reflect on this text, I wonder, would we welcome back the one who we think has squandered away their life? Would we welcome anyone who we think or judge to have made bad choices or to have taken the wrong path? Would you welcome with love and open arms a family member - a mom or dad, sister or brother, son or daughter, an in-law who hurt you or followed a path you thought so wrong? How about a friend who wronged you? And, as a community of faith - would we truly welcome and love someone, saying, welcome home, who may have made choices we don't agree with or who appear so different from us? Let's get together this Sunday to hear the still quiet voice of God this Fourth Sunday in Lent, saying to us "And God says Welcome Home."
And a teaser - there shall be a beautiful musical surprise on Sunday! Come, hear it and give thanks to God.
Do remember that tomorrow, March 30, Trinity Kars is hosting an e-waste electronics recycling event from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Computers, monitors, TVs, cell phones, game consoles, printers, cables, wires, microwaves, scrap metal, audio equipment, etc. are wanted. Please no air conditioners, fridges or liquids.
Happy weekend wherever you may be or go. See you Sunday.
Blessings, -- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Welcome to the third day of Spring! Snowbanks melting! Asphalt glistening! Birds singing! Can you feel it? Can you hear it? Are you loving it? I am, as are the few hardy folks I've seen walking about in shorts these past few days. A wee bit too early for that but they didn't ask me for my fashion advice!
We are invited to gather in community this Sunday as we continue our Lenten Journey to the cross of Good Friday. All are welcome to join in at worship: St. James, 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m.
Our Scripture readings are from the Prophet Isaiah, Chapter 55, verses 1 through 9 and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 9. Our first reading is an invitation to everyone - not just Israelites (the people Isaiah was originally addressing) - to change our ways and join the "banquet of redemption." Our Gospel reading is a bit stark this week. It is rife with themes of repentance, re-turning to God; and, cutting down that which does not bear fruit. Ouch. Makes one wonder just what was the crowd up to (being sinful?) that Jesus is addressing. I reflect and think: is Jesus speaking to me today? Is Jesus speaking to you today? Of course he is! As we continue our Lenten journey, let's gather together to explore what Jesus is teaching us this day. I am thinking it might be something about "Second Chances: Will it be Life or Death?" Doesn't everyone long for a second chance? Or a third? Or a fourth...
Also this Sunday, we receive our 3rd Lenten Challenge. Are you ready? You have until Sunday morning to complete the Week 2 Challenge. I do hope you're enjoying them and that they give you pause for holy thought, holy action and holy conversations.
I draw your attention in particular to the E-Waste initiative that Trinity Kars is hosting March 30. You've got a week to clean out your closets (and basements) of all unwanted and broken e-waste.
Blessings on your Friday and your weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, March 17, 2019
What a lovely Friday it is. I am hearing and seeing "drip, drip, drip" of melting snow and ice as winter ebbs away. And to see bare asphalt in places in the parking lot is a joy! After what seems like a very long winter, I take my joys where I can get them.
We are called to gather in community this Sunday as we continue our Lenten Journey to the cross of Good Friday. All are welcome to join us at worship: St. James, 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m.
Our Scripture readings this Sunday are from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 15, verses 1 through 12 and 17 through 18 and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 13, verses 31 through 35. Our first reading speaks of trust in God even as we may experience disappointments, challenges, fears and uncertainties each day of our lives as Abram and Sarai did. Our Gospel reading speaks of listening for and hearing the quiet voice of God and keeping true to one's faith and one's mission when others would distract you. What might be something that distracts you this Season of Lent?
Last Sunday we also kicked off our weekly Lenten Challenge (printed on the back of the worship bulletin). This Sunday a new challenge is coming your way. Are you ready?
Weekly announcements are attached. Have a great weekend wherever you may be and see you Sunday morning.
Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, March 10, 2019
Good afternoon to you. I hope you've had a fine week. I have a bit of a longer message this week.
This being International Woman's Day we celebrate women and girls in our communities of faith, in Canada and around the world, pointing to each and every one of us to join together to build a more just and inclusive world. We are indebted to the gifts and work that women and girls undertake locally and globally. My thanks and deep appreciation. Our collective thanks and deep appreciation.
The Season of Lent, of re-turning to God, is upon us. Lent began on Ash Wednesday this week and it was good to see a number of you at our reflective and intimate Joint Ash Wednesday services. This Sunday is the First Sunday in Lent. We have begun our journey with Jesus to the cross of Good Friday. On Sunday, we mark the beginning of our Lenten Journey in words, prayers, diminishing light, singing and by gathering around God's table for the Sacrament of Holy Communion. And, there will also be a Lenten Challenge asked of you (and you'll be asked each Sunday in Lent to undertake a Lenten Challenge as a spiritual practice). St. James worships at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. Please come and journey with your friends and with Jesus. All are welcome. I also share a link to the United of Church of Canada Moderator's (Right Rev. Richard Bott) Message for Lent. He asks a wonderful question of all of us at this time of year: "How Is It with Your Soul?" Click here for the link to the video message (and at the bottom of that page you'll find a transcript of his message).
Our Scripture readings are the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 26, verses 1 through 11 and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 4, verses 1 through 13. Our first reading emphasizes a remembering of God's guidance that leads to places of life. In our Gospel reading, we hear the story, familiar to some, of Jesus spending 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness being tempted by the "devil" three times. Each time, Jesus quotes scripture to refute the "devil." Forty days and forty nights. That is a long time to spend by oneself in the wilderness. How would you handle that? What might consume your thoughts and your dreams (or nightmares)? Let's gather this Sunday to talk about "Uncomfortable Places" as we spend our own time during Lent in the wilderness or we recall times of wilderness experiences - adrift and lonely.
Before I see you Sunday morning, might I see you at two fundraising events taking place at Trinity and St. James this weekend? Trinity hosts a Chili Supper tonight - Friday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Invite your friends, family and neighbours to meet up for dinner at Trinity with delicious home-made chili, salads, dinner rolls, refreshments and dessert. Adults $15, kids under 12, free. All are welcome and take out available. There will be veggie options as well. And, having had chili for dinner, why not keep at the theme of not cooking by stopping in for breakfast Saturday morning at St. James. St. James hosts their monthly Community Breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. All welcome. Great food, laughter and being together. Free-will offering.
And, last but not least, clocks Spring Forward at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. Might I suggest you turn your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed Saturday night. We'd truly be sorry (okay, maybe laughing) if you were to show up for church as church was letting out.
See you tonight, tomorrow and/or Sunday morning.
Have a great weekend wherever you may be.
P.S. For those lucky enough to be escaping for "March Break" this coming week may you have wonderful and relaxing moments with those you love and may you return to us safely.
Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, March 3, 2019
And a happy Friday to you. It is March 1. A brand new month. And, only 19 more days til the first day of Spring (March 20).
Oh, how I long for Spring especially after reading an email message from a blog I follow - from a much warmer and southerly place. The email said in part "the birds are on the move, returning to northern climates." In the meantime, I do note that skunks in our neighbourhood seem to be emerging from their winter dens (silly skunks don't truly hibernate) foraging for food among all the ice and snow. Good luck with that I say. And how do I know they are emerging? The telltale sign on Thursday morning was the smell. The stink. It would seem at least one skunk felt the need to leave its calling card aimed at our front porch.
This Sunday we gather at St. James for joint worship at 9:30 a.m. As we worship, sing and pray we shall conduct the business of St. James for it is St. James Annual Meeting. Please attend to ensure we have quorum and do bring your copy of the Annual Report (previously distributed by email and in paper to those without email). Our time in community with one another and with God will be followed by a time of fellowship, refreshments and goodies in the church hall. Please join with us to share your wisdom and dreams for the St. James faith community. All are welcome.
Our Scripture reading this Sunday is from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 9, verses 28 thru 36. In this text, Jesus takes James, John and Peter up the mountain to pray and to carve out a space and time to invite an encounter with God. Today we tend to see the presence of God, the presence of the Holy in all people and all places. But I wonder, how can we today create places for deep, intimate and sacred encounters with the Holy? Is church one place? Are there others?
Lent begins this Wednesday, March 6. You are invited to our Ash Wednesday joint services at St. James. One will be at 3 p.m. and the other at 6:30 p.m. Both services include reflective Taizé music, responsive readings, prayer, scripture, the imposition of ashes and the Sacrament of Holy Communion as we begin our journey to the cross. These are services that are holy, sacred and so unlike Sunday worship. Come prepared to engage with God in a new yet old way. Everyone is welcome. Bring a friend.
I also draw to your attention that Trinity United is issuing a "shout out" to its members for volunteers and food contributions for next Friday's Chili Supper. Will Pearl shares that there is a need for rolls, salads, desserts and helpers. You can call Will @ 613-327-9785 or email him at William@willpearl.ca to sign up and share how you might help. All gifts of labour and hands are appreciated.
Blessings on your Friday and weekend. I look forward to seeing you at Joint Service at St. James, 9:30 a.m. Sunday and at our Ash Wednesday services, March 6.
P.S. A Reminder: World Day of Prayer service - 1 p.m. this afternoon - Friday at St. James
Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, February 24, 2019
And a happy Friday to you. Counting down the days to Spring I am. It seems that every time I wash the salt, sand and dirt of winter off my car the last few weeks, it snows. For example, I washed the car again on Tuesday, and look - it snowed on Wednesday night. I do suppose I could stop washing my car but salt = rust. That's bad. If there is a connection between washing my car and it then snowing, please don't blame me.
This Sunday, February 24, we gather at Trinity for Joint Worship at 11 a.m. As we worship, sing, pray and give our thanks to God, we also listen for God's call to us as we undertake the annual meeting of Trinity United immediately following an abbreviated worship service. Let us come together this Sunday to give our thanks. Trinity is your community of faith and we must have quorum for the meeting to take place. So, please be there to offer your wisdom, guidance and support to all who serve your community of faith. For people on email, you received the Annual report about 10 days or so ago. Please bring a copy of the report with you - on paper or on your mobile devices, so that we may undertake the business of the church. A few hard copies of the report were distributed at church last Sunday.
Our Scripture reading this Sunday is from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 6, verses 27-38. In this reading, we hear Jesus call us to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, give to everyone who begs from us and the well known verse "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." I have a few words to offer in a short reflection titled "Love in Action." Let's gather together to hear God's Living Words for us this Sunday.
In case you will not be at Trinity this Sunday, do note that next Sunday, March 3, we gather at St. James for Joint Worship at 9:30. We shall worship and conduct the business of the church during the St. James Annual Meeting. A time of fellowship will follow.
A few notes:
I hope to see you this Sunday as well as next Sunday. It is important that we gather to give God our thanksgiving for our ministry in the world and to discern where God is leading us in our tomorrows. Blessings on your Friday and weekend.
Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Happy Friday to you. What a beautiful day it is. The temperature is above freezing and there was rain this morning! Not freezing rain. Just good old rain. This is good. Or, this is how desperate I am to take comfort in what feels like a warm day. But, this beautiful day will pass and we'll be back to proper winter weather. Enjoy it while you can is my motto for the next few hours at least.
This Sunday we gather to worship and be in community with one another: St. James at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. Do note there is no Sunday school at Trinity as it is a long weekend for some lucky folks. Younger folks are encouraged to be present at worship itself.
Our scripture readings are from Jeremiah, Chapter 17, verses 5 through 10 and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 6, verses 17 through 26. I am not yet sure what to make of our Scripture readings. In our first reading, the Prophet Jeremiah, speaking and acting on behalf of God, announces a series of curses and blessings on God's beloved people. We hear a similar theme in our Gospel reading which offers Luke's version of the Beatitudes. Unlike the Beatitudes offered in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5, Luke's account of Jesus' Beatitudes also contain woes. Calling the poor, the hungry, those who mourn and the reviled, blessed, Luke records Jesus proclaiming woe to the rich, to the full, to those who laugh, and those who are popular. Ouch. Really? Let's get together to explore God's Living Words for us this Sunday.
Do note that next Sunday, February 24, worship is Joint at Trinity, 11 a.m. Trinity annual congregational meeting will immediately follow an abbreviated worship service. Please plan to attend.
May you be blessed with a great day and weekend wherever you may be. -- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, February 10, 2019
And a happy Friday to you. May it be a good day.
This Sunday we are invited to gather to worship, sing, pray, be in relationship with one another and God, learn and hear God's Living Words for us at St. James at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. I hope to see you on Sunday. Everyone is welcome for we gather at God's house.
Our Scripture readings are from the book of the Prophet Isaiah , Chapter 6, verses 1 through 8 and from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 5, verses 1 through 11. We again hear call stories. Stories in which God's people respond to God's call to follow and to serve.
In our reading from Isaiah, verse 8, Isaiah writes, "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I; send me!" The same theme is picked up on in our Gospel reading, Jesus' call to Simon (later called by the name Peter), and to James and John, to put down their nets and follow Jesus in ministry in the world. Just ordinary people, hearing the call of God and responding to that call by following Jesus. We've heard these call stories many times over the years. We can probably identify times in our lives when we have felt "called" to leave things behind and move in new directions. Just ordinary people hearing God call to us to move in new ways.
As I reflect on our readings for this Sunday, I think back to last Sunday and God's call to us. I offered the following "The Good News this day is that God does not just bless and love us who come to worship. God blesses and loves all people. All people! Those that are whole. Those that are broken. Here and everywhere. We are called by God to do the same as hard as it might be." As we ponder that "call," this Sunday I am reflecting upon how we might make that our reality. How might our church be "A Place of Mercy; A Place of Healing" for all people. That everyone might experience, for at least one hour in their week: acceptance, compassion, mercy, healing love, peace and grace. Wouldn't that be a wonderful place to spend one hour? Let's gather together this Sunday to hear God's Living Words for us.
I note that St. James Community breakfast takes place tomorrow - Saturday - from 8 to 10 a.m. Wonderful conversation, great coffee and tea, laughter and a hearty breakfast. Bring your family, friends and neighbours for a time of community-making. Free-will offering.
Blessings on your day and weekend.
P.S. If you subscribe (or don't) to the United Church Observer magazine, do know they also have an on-line presence. Great stories. Great reading. All available here: https://www.ucobserver.org/
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Good afternoon this beautiful first day of February. I trust you have had a fine week. Before I launch into the weekly email, a special note for Trinity folks - we have water and functioning bathroom facilities! Thank you Trevor for working hard to resolve the problems. Regular Trinity worship will take place this Sunday.
We are invited to gather at worship this Sunday at St. James at 9:30 and Trinity at 11 a.m. We shall sing, pray, hear God's living words, be in relationship with one another and with God and Celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Please join us.
Our Scripture readings this Sunday come from one of my favourite books (okay I do have many) of the Bible - Jeremiah, Chapter 1, verses 4 through 10 and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 4, verses 20 through 30. I have commented in the past that Jeremiah was some strange dude - known to walk around naked, breaking clay pots, yelling at the people that doom is coming their way. Our reading from Jeremiah is a call story - God's call to Jeremiah to go out into the world to serve God and work to get God's people to re-turn to God. In our Gospel reading we get the second part of a two-part story that began last Sunday (the first part can be found here: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=109#gospel_reading). To say that Jesus preaches a barn-burner sermon doesn't do his words justice. He does that and so much more. And, surprise - the people he preached to were greatly ______? You fill in the blank. Let's gather together this Sunday to hear God's living words and to explore what they mean for us today.
Blessings on your Friday and weekend. Wherever you may be or may be traveling to, may you journey with God.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, January 27, 2019
What a beautiful morning it was when I began writing this note. The sun actually felt warm today. After a storm-filled week, this morning was an absolute delight. Last Sunday we did have worship at St. James - 10 hearty folks came out and we sang, read, prayed and engaged with the Gospel reading sharing our thoughts on it. It was worship that was intimate, wonderful and sacred. Trinity worship was cancelled due to the storm as it only got worse. And with the winter storms, board meetings ended up being cancelled as well. But back into our routines we have moved.
St. James worships this Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and Trinity at 11 a.m. Hope to see you there.
This Sunday our Scripture readings are from the Book of Nehemiah, Chapter 8, verses 1-3, 5-6, 8-10 and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 4, verses 14-21. It is not often we hear from the Book of Nehemiah. This passage records the day when, after the completion of the restoration of Jerusalem's walls, the people gather to hear the words of the Law read for the first time since their return. The physical restoration of Jerusalem stands as a symbol of and prelude to the spiritual restoration of its people, which will arise from a renewed relationship with God.
Our Gospel reading is a two-part story. We hear the first part this Sunday and the second part on February 3. In the first part, Jesus is launching his public ministry. After teaching in several synagogues around Galilee, he arrives in Nazareth, "where he had been brought up." As Luke tells the story, this is the first place we hear Jesus' teaching - and so the scene functions as a kind of manifesto at the outset of his ministry. Indeed, apart from what he says to his parents as a twelve-year-old earlier in the story, these are the very first words we hear from Jesus in Luke's Gospel. And powerful words they are including: "...he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor....Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
May we join together this Sunday to explore God's Living Words for us and to sing, pray and be in community.
Blessings on your day and weekend wherever you may be and go.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil
Sunday, January 20, 2019
I am back and it's good to be back. A few weeks off to enjoy Sabbath rest, to swim, soak in the sun and simply be in awe of creation is sometimes just what the body and soul need after a wonderful but busy Season of Advent and Christmas. I've missed you all and look forward to seeing your friendly faces on Sunday morning. To all who led worship in my absence and attended to the pastoral needs of OKPC, my gratitude.
This Sunday our Scripture readings are from Isaiah, Chapter 65, verses 1 thru 5 and the Gospel of John, Chapter 2, verses 1 through 11. Our Isaiah reading reminds the listener that even when the facts on the ground are terrible, God can surprise God's people with a new beginning. In our Gospel reading we hear how Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding banquet. It is the first of the seven public signs around which John organizes his account of Jesus' ministry. The "miracle" at the Wedding at Cana is an opening answer to the question, What is Jesus' mission all about? Grace upon Grace: An Abundance of Grace!
I end this short note with congratulations to Kathryn and Ken Holman on the birth of their first granddaughter, Julie, born January 8! A brand new sister for Malcolm. God bless you all.
P.S. Have a wonderful weekend.
-- Rev. Grant McNeil