This past week on my last day at The Westmount I left my house and started driving. I was past Wilmot Center when I realized I was driving to New Dundee instead of Kitchener. I turned my van around and headed down Bleams Road towards Kitchener. I got to Queen Street and turned right. It wasn’t until I got to the golf course that I noted again I was headed to St. James. That’s when I realized that all roads really do lead to St. James in New Dundee. God is very much alive and present in this place.
I remember when I started at St. James in New Dundee, I was so impressed with the people of St. James. When I started as your interim pastor when Pastor Joanne was on sick leave, one of the first things I discovered is not only that you were not afraid of change, but you really were craving change. You asked for more lay participation in worship, more youth ministry, new music and other things. As a young new pastor, I was ready to offer leadership for those changes.
In the almost 15 years that I have served as pastor to St. James we have been very actively following God’s call together. The council said youth ministry and together we sent youth all across Canada from Vancouver to PEI and Whitehorse and many stops in between. We started a youth retreat at Camp Edgewood that is legendary. We were the only church I’m aware of that had hockey nets in front of our church. I said we need nets and the next Sunday they were there. Murray you were always a champion for the youth. Liza, Susan and Durward you always gave me a little extra to make sure the youth had enough. We had ball hockey tournaments and tried all sorts of crazy youth ideas. There were dances and dinners, games of spoons and hide and go seek in the church. There are way too many youth to name them all and some youth stories that are better just as memories. Our youth always said yes to flipping pancakes, making spaghetti, serving their neighbours, and helping others. We discovered our faith through fun, hard work, travel, camp, and experiences. So many people offered support in so many ways to the youth – your money, your time and support – you showed up for our youth!!
Ministry at St. James was very active in many ways because of all of you. Jan came to me with an idea about prayer blankets and lots of people in the church got activated. Kelly came to me after a service and said – “What do you need for Camp Edgewood” and together with her leadership we raised $10,000.00. Susan said “I can lead an adult ed class”. Jim said “Let’s do a games night”. Sandy said “Let’s try a play”. Anne said “I will lead the worship committee”. Jim said I can plow the snow. Jody, Rita, Sharon, Julianne, and Nancy said I can help by serving God as church secretary. Pat, Dorthy, Melanie, and Hannah said I can edit the proclamation. Steve said I can make a website. Elvira, Borge, and Vi said I will help the church by leaving them money to carry on ministry after I’m gone. Laurie said – let’s help our neighbor with coats, mitts and food. Kathy said – I will take care of this and that and the other thing too! Durward, Lori, Bob and Susan said I have financial talents, let me be the treasurer. Annette, Marg and Jerry said “Me too – I will be the financial secretary”. Brenda said “I will track the baptisms for you”. Marie and Marylin said “I will guide this new pastor and help show her the way”. Jackie and Frank and many others said “You need help with communion PB” Lily, Jacob, Nancy and Josh just say “What do you need PB” Jim, Mark, Peter and Susan said “I can preach”. Judy, Linda, Laura and so many others said “I can read the lessons”. Lukas, Nathanial, Thomas, Amedeo said “I can mow the lawn and help with the property.” Donna said “I can play music every week” and Bob and Anne said “I can clean every week”. Many, many of you said I can lead by sitting on council, some of you stepped up to be chairs of council. Monica recently offered to lead and she has led us through some pretty big changes. Anthony said “I can set up an AV system for you”. Dave said “I’ll stand on the pews and make that projector work”. Peter said “I can take that organ out for you”. Carl said “I will check the church, and run the heat, and any time you have a problem with the church, call me and I will be there.” Carl also said “We will get that lift working, even if I have to trap the repair man in it.” Ruth said “I will keep Carl on track”. Marshall and Erika said “I can play music for you”. Bonnie and Willis said “Let’s collect milk bags”. Ruth and Marge said “I’m quite good at baking, I can feed you”. Winston and Doreen said “I can sing”. Olivia said “I can teach and save the whales”. Robert said “Yes I can move that bench and No I won’t move it back”. Karina said my dogs will bring joy to worship”. Kathy said “I know about those Christmons and yes PB I will find that article again for you”. Jean, Elizabeth, Marie and others said “I can quilt for the seminary and CLWR”. David said “Let’s run this grocery cart down the ramp and ram it into the railing and then we will bounce over the railing – that would be fun”. Okay maybe everything we did in youth ministry was not smart but we never had to call the ambulance, even when Nick lost at the very dangerous game of mattress wars. Jim and Coral, Brad and Cindy, Janice and Tom and so many others said “I can make coffee and snacks and greet”. There is probably a few of you that I have not mentioned by name – I know you all stepped up to serve this church and to serve your God. Thanks for all you do.
YOU RUN THIS CHURCH – Sometimes I wonder what I actually did as your pastor since you all did so much. You all do so much to make St. James an amazing church living out God’s mission in the community of New Dundee.
St. James really is an amazing church family. We care for each other and love each other deeply in good times and in bad.
As I leave St. James, I know that I am leaving a healthy, strong, faith filled family that will continue to step up, and follow God’s call and vision for the future.
Continue to grow in your faith and be active in your support of each other, the community, and the world. May God’s blessings be upon this place, the ministry of St. James and may God continue to bless each and every one of you!!
With love and deep appreciation for our work together!
Have you succeeded from removing the word busy from your vocabulary during lent? Have you actually made an effort to slow down and refresh during this Holy season?
Last month ,I wrote about the busyness of life and I got more comments about that message than I did in the previous 100+ newsletter articles I’ve written. I guess I struck a chord. - We are simply too busy!
The popular Ecclesiastes verse says there is a time for every matter under heaven. We need to pause in our busyness of life and take time in intentional Christian Community to slow down, be together and refresh ourselves.
After Jesus died on the cross, the disciples huddled together in a room. They didn’t scatter.
They came together and worked together to figure things out. They shared their grief, they may have made plans, and for sure they ate together.
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to them together. Thee disciples weren’t too busy to welcome Jesus, they weren’t too scattered, far away from each other - they were together, in
community, grieving, loving, sharing until their God came and shared the gospel message of resurrection.
What are we doing if our whole lives are consumed with the busyness of work, electronics, and the pursuit of money? Such a formula does not make for fulfilled lives.
Take some time this Lenten/Easter season to remember the Awe and Wonder that is God. Find God in nature, and then come back to your community and share it. What if we filled our screen each week with visions of Awe and Wonder each Sunday that we discovered during the
week? The beauty of a cat basking in the warm sun, the new buds of spring, the face of a loved one, or a tree.
This Lenten/Easter, search out the Awe and Wonder of God in the world as a spiritual practice
and then email it to me and we will get it up on the screen each Sunday morning. We can share our experiences of an awesome God who is everywhere in our world.
Let’s have some fun re-discovering God in the world and then share it with our community. May God’s awesome peace and love be in you this Easter Season.
We hear this all the time. In fact, I would argue these words have become a badge of honor in today’s society as a response to that simple question “How are you?”
Ten years ago, when someone would ask – “How are you today?”, a typical response would be “Pretty good thanks, how about you”. Fast forward 10 years and the answer has mostly changed to “yeah – things are really busy” What else has changed?
One thing is certainly electronics. Many of our lives are dominated by technology. Ten years ago, I checked email at the office a few times a week – now I check it a few times every hour. It’s almost always now done by electronics. There is usually a twinge of “Ugh” when I have to actually “call” someone and not just text. Again, this is a change from 10 years ago when I would call my husband when I needed him. Now we simply text. Our social life has become integrated into our electronics, which usually reside no more than a few centimeters away from us at all times. Much of our “busyness” is caused by our exhaustion with always being connected.
Another change over time is that our striving for perfection or wholeness is less connected with our full acceptance at baptism and more connected to the size of our house or our portfolio. We are striving for the perfect family image rather than trusting that God has already made our family perfect.
We want our kids to have every future advantage by getting them to extra hockey, baseball, soccer practices, tutoring, music lessons, karate, and play dates to make them whole rather than trusting that they already are whole and they should follow where their gifts lead them. In our adult lives ,we also strive for wholeness which may mean balancing many things like yoga, guys’ night, book club or a trip to the gym.
All of these things can certainly improve our lives and they are all action items that add to our busy lives. It is as if we are working so hard for wholeness, that we are missing the forest for the trees. We are reaching for a goal of perfection that we have already obtained at birth and are reminded of this at our baptism. Keeping busy is our new way of life.
And now... here comes Lent, a time within the church to slow down and switch gears. Historically the tradition is to give up something for Lent as an exercise of spiritual renewal. In my experience this is a good practice. It does help us to stop, pay attention and spend some precious time reflecting on our relationship with God.
More modern traditions fit into the “busyness model” of a switch from giving up something for Lent to taking something on for Lent. For example, take on reading the bible every day or using a Lenten calendar to remind you to do something to help others and yourself.
So which is right? Should we slow down and give up for Lent ? Should we speed up and take on something new? Or is Lent simply not important enough to hit our radar anymore?
What if we gave up the word “busyness for Lent”? Perhaps we can simply respond differently when asked the question “How are you today?”. Or we can make a shift and actually follow God’s commandment to “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy”. In doing this, we slow down, think, and remember we are already perfect.
How busy are you?
How busy do you feel?
God commands you to keep the Sabbath!!
This Lenten Season, be kind to yourself, keep the Sabbath and reconnect to your family, your church family, and to God.
May your Lenten Journey include Sabbath (rest and honor to God)
Once, all villagers decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer, all the people gathered,
but only one boy came with an umbrella.
That's FAITH .
When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them.
Every night we go to bed
without any assurance of being alive the next morning,
but still, we set the alarms to wake up.
We plan big things for tomorrow
in spite of zero knowledge of the future.
We see the world suffering,
but still, we get married and have children
On an old man's shirt was written a sentence
'I am not 80 years old;
I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience.'
Have a happy day and live your life like the six stories.
When I was a child, I thought nap time was punishment. Now it's like a mini-vacation.
"GOOD FRIENDS ARE THE RARE JEWELS OF LIFE...
DIFFICULT TO FIND AND IMPOSSIBLE TO REPLACE!
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights like Heaven's stars reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away the tear
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring
For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me. I see the pain inside your heart,
But I am not so far away. We really aren't apart.
So, be happy for me, dear ones. You know I hold you dear,
And be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I send you each a special gift from my heavenly home above.
I send you each a memory of my undying love.
After all, love is the gift more precious than pure gold.
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.
Please love and keep each other as my Father said to do
For I can't count the blessings of love He has for each of you.
So, have a Merry Christmas, and wipe away that tear.
Remember, I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
- Submitted by Peter L. Dedicated to Jackie H.
Jackie was one of a group of my friends from university days (1970's) at U of Waterloo, who have kept in touch over the years. I have fond memories of many years of golf tournaments, ball hockey tournaments, baseball tournaments, cross-country ski loppets, etc. followed by meals and comradery with these former classmates. All except I, were in the Recreation Program of study at university, which is why there was always a focus on sport in our subsequent "get-togethers". I was an "adopted Mathie/Accountant" who loved sport and knew one of the Rec students from our high school days.
Jackie battled Diabetes for years, but about 6-7 years ago faced her first of 4-5 surgeries which amputated progressive portions of both her feet and legs. In 2015, I requested a Prayer Blanket for Jackie from Jan Cressman-Weiss and her knitting team. And on Sept 27 of that year, we blessed a blanket for Jackie...see picture below. We delivered the blanket to Jackie and she displayed it proudly on her couch in her living room.
Jackie dealt with wheel chairs and prosthetic legs (and the necessary training in their use), ramps and various modifications to her home in Paris, ON. She and her sister even acquired a van adapted for wheel chair transportation. Our group from university days, would make periodic visits (those living closer, more frequently), while emails and phone calls were more frequent. Jackie coped with all of this, demonstrating great courage and an unbelievably positive spirit.
By Christmas 2017 Jackie was travelling regularly to Hamilton for kidney dialysis. She was told she needed a new kidney, but would never get one, because of her prior health issues. In addition, she was informed that she would need further amputation surgery. It became quite clear to doctors and Jackie and her family, that the end was nigh. It was simply a matter of how long Jackie wanted to attempt to defer the inevitable. Exhausted, she requested that there be no more surgeries and that doctors simply try to minimize the pain which she endured constantly. And so, Jackie faced the end bravely and with the same courage she demonstrated battling the effects of Diabetes.
I am proud to have known Jackie and to be able to call her a friend. May she rest in peace!
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. Psalm 132:9
The church year is coming to a close, winter is approaching, and it’s All Saints Sunday. A reminder of death. A glimpse into new life. Each year we celebrate All Saints Sunday where we remember those who have passed away over the last year as well as any faithful people in our lives that we have lost.
This past Sunday during our conversation about the Apostles Creed we had a question or two about the phrase “The communion of saints”.
It seems that when we think of saints, we often think about the popular idea of saint from the Catholic Church. Recently in the news Pope Francis recognized seven people into sainthood. This kind of news seeps into our understanding and tends to make us forget that the Lutheran understanding of saint is every baptized person past, present, and future.
As we celebrate All Saints Sunday, we can focus on the ending – focus on the fact that we are almost at the end of another year, or we can live in the hope that with death, we are promised new life. The end of a church year means the start of another. The end of fall means we move to the death of winter, yes, but that spring will come again.
For the saints we lost, we give thanks, we are sad, we mourn their loss but we live in the hope of new life for them and for us.
The communion of saints means we are all in this together. All saints from all times past, present, and future are in communion together, we are together in our faith, and together in the new life we are promised through our trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ.