HomeBlog 1 2 3 23 24

Power In the Spirit

Daily On-line Devotionals from Lutherans Connect

for the First Two Weeks of Pentecost

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit” by Ninian Comper,
Image by Lawrence OP

Many of us desire to spend more time in spiritual practice than we do, but often find it challenging to make space for it in our lives. In the summer months, many faith communities transition into a time of less programming and it can become easy to fall out of spiritual practice.

In the spirit of our online seasonal devotional projects, Lutherans Connect invites you to make space for reflection during the first two weeks of the Pentecost season of the church. To assist you, we will offer a meditation every other day, bringing together scripture readings, poetry, songs and reflections, from a range of ecumenical traditions.

This Pentecost we explore the biblical theme of ‘power’ when associated with the Holy Spirit. In our contemporary world, we often think of power as that which exerts authority over something or someone, or that which dominates or oppresses. By contrast, the biblical ‘power’ invoked with the Spirit in Scripture is often a translation of ‘at the hand of’. It is used as well to translate words for ‘great strength’, a strength that is deeper or greater than human beings can commonly understand. This Pentecost we will explore how the Holy Spirit works in us to transform us when we are able to listen and dwell in its mystery and presence, when we are able to rest in God’s hands.

Starting on Pentecost Sunday, May 20th and going for fourteen days until Saturday, June 2nd, we will explore specific biblical moments when the ‘power of the Holy Spirit’ has served a role in transformation. At the same time, we will also investigate stories of our own world where having authority and controlling influence has caused damage and destruction, as well as observing the efforts being made by individuals and communities to transform their reality and restore right relationships. Together we will prayerfully reflect on how the Spirit works in our own lives, to effect transformations small or large.

The first link to the devotional will appear this Sunday and on the Lutherans Connect Facebook page every day following until June 2nd. Join us! And may the power of the Holy Spirit rest in you this Pentecost and always.

~ from the Lutherans Connect facebook page

You may also access the blog here.

Celebrate Pentecost at the Church of St. Paul!

Bring Red Geraniums to Church this Sunday

The Church of St Paul is carrying on its tradition of asking members of the congregation to bring red geraniums to church on Pentecost Sunday – May 20th.  They will be used in planters and the garden.

For those wondering “why red?”.  That’s because red is the liturgical colour for Pentecost.

Responses to Situation in Syria by International Church Organizations

Statement by the LWF President and General Secretary
on the escalation of military conflict in Syria

In a statement issued in Geneva on April 14th, LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa and General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge, on behalf of the global communion of churches, call for “an immediate halt of the spiral of military retaliatory action that is leading the world closer to global military conflict.”

The Lutheran World Federation expresses its grave concern over the dangerous escalation of the conflict in Syria and new levels of direct foreign military intervention. This development is pushing humankind closer to a global armed conflict, the like of which has not been seen since World War II.

The Lutheran World Federation unequivocally deplores any breach of international law pertinent to the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons in either international or non- international armed conflict.

Alleged breaches need to be independently investigated, and addressed thoroughly and swiftly. Perpetrators need to be held accountable, as per the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Out of the traumatic experiences of World War I and II, the community of states developed treaties banning the use chemical weapons, such as the Geneva Gas Protocol and the Chemical Weapons Convention. The UN Security Council was established to safeguard compliance with these treaties. In doing so, the community of states, was driven by the resolve not to allow conflict and violence again to escalate and get out of control.

It is with dismay that the LWF has observed that the existing instruments to address allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria have been either ignored or have failed to deliver on their purpose.

Instead, retaliatory military strikes have been carried out. These strikes constitute a breach of International Law, because they have not been authorized by the UN Security Council.

The Lutheran World Federation urges for an immediate halt of the spiral of military retaliatory action that is leading the world closer to global military conflict.

The Lutheran World Federation calls upon the leaders of governments and the United Nations to:
• Make use of the available instruments, conventions and procedures to address any dispute and conflict among and within States, as well as any breach of international obligations;
• Not to dismiss or ignore these instruments, conventions and procedures, where they may have failed to deliver on their purpose. Instead, urgently reform and improve them so that they work for the sake of humankind;
• Remain accountable to customary International Law while addressing conflict and alleged breaches of internationally binding conventions.

The Lutheran World Federation calls upon its member churches to:
• Pray for justice and peace in the world, and particularly at this time in Syria and the Middle East.
• Publicly support and advocate for the de-escalation of this spiral of conflict and
• Publicly hold their governments accountable to International Law as the only way
to safeguard lasting peace and justice in the world

“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.” John 14: 27

LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa
LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge

~ accessed from the Lutheran World Federation website

World Council of Churches reiterates calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria

In a statement from Geneva on April 16th, the World Council of Churches (WCC) urged the international community to find a way to break the cycle of violence in Syria. The statement comes two days after the USA, France and the UK carried out missile strikes following a suspected Syrian government chemical weapons attack.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) and its fellowship of member churches and ecumenical partners, journeying together on a pilgrimage of justice and peace, are deeply saddened and dismayed that after almost seven years of bloody conflict, Syria and its people continue to be the victims of unremitting violence and brutality. The international community must find a way to break the vicious cycle of violence that has already led to the greatest humanitarian tragedy since the Second World War, resulting in the deaths of more than 400.000 people, rendering more than 13.5 million people in need of aid and assistance inside Syria, and causing more than 5 million people to flee the country as refugees and 6.1 million people to be displaced internally.

Throughout the course of this human-made catastrophe, the WCC has always spoken out against the war and raised its voice for a just peace. We reiterate our strongly-held views that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Syria A just and sustainable peace for all Syrians can only be brought about through a political solution.

The WCC deplores the fact that atrocities are still being perpetrated against civilians. The UN Security Council has repeatedly failed to adopt sufficiently strong and consistent measures to put an end to these atrocities, to implement a durable ceasefire, to ensure respect for international law and accountability for all those who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the use of chemical weapons.

Today, with regard to the tragic escalation of the situation in Syria, the WCC reiterates what it has called for many times: an immediate ceasefire, unconditional humanitarian access to all regions in Syria, the commitment of all parties to respecting international law and to seeking peace through dialogue and a political process rather than by armed force, the resumption of the UN-led Geneva peace process, and the prompt return in safety and dignity for all civilians who have been forcibly displaced from their homes and lands.

WCC member churches in Syria and the region will have an important role to play in healing wounded memories and in bringing all Syrians together in a common narrative, for the preservation of Syria’s rich diversity and the restoration of social cohesion. In this, the WCC assures the churches in Syria that the ecumenical family will accompany them together with the whole people of Syria on this path, in working for a just peace and for human dignity.

We hope and pray that an end to the suffering of the Syrian people will be delayed no longer.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General  Secretary
World Council of Churches

~ accessed from the World Council of Church’s website

Moderator’s Easter 2018 Message

Hallelujah, Christ is risen!

The Right Rev. Jordan Cantwell, United Church Moderator

This Easter, may our hallelujahs affirm that, despite whatever hopelessness threatens to overwhelm us, we trust in the power of God’s love to bring about resurrection within our lives.

View Moderator Jordan Cantwell’s Easter message here.

 

Transcript of video message:

Hallelujah, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, hallelujah!

That is our Easter refrain — full of joy and conviction. But that sure wasn’t the response of Jesus’ disciples on that first Easter morning. The various gospel accounts show the disciples responding with awe, fear, incomprehension, doubt, terror, and amazement.

Our response is born of hindsight. Knowing what we now know about how it all turned out, we think of Easter morning and we declare, “Hallelujah!”

But when one is in the midst of resurrection, when it is happening to you or around you right now, it’s a very different experience: full of uncertainty, anxiety, dread, and disbelief.

Resurrection is, by its very nature, unexpected and unimaginable. We cannot see it coming; we are never prepared for it. It is the revelation of new life where just moments ago there was nothing but the possibility of despair and loss.

The hallelujahs we announce at Easter are our affirmation that despite whatever hopelessness threatens to overwhelm us, we trust in the power of God’s love to bring about resurrection within our lives. We don’t know when, we don’t know how, we don’t know what it will look like, and we will certainly be confused and confounded by it if it should happen. But today, our hallelujahs declare that we believe resurrection is possible.

And so we do not lose hope, no matter how hopeless a situation appears.

This Easter season, as you sing, shout, whisper, and proclaim “Hallelujah!” may it strengthen your faith in the power and possibility of new life for you, your church, and our world.

May we truly be a resurrection people.

~ from the United Church of Canada website

Bishop Barbara’s Easter Message

We Are An Easter People, Alleluia!

As we move through the final days of Holy Week and move to the celebration of the day of Resurrection, we are once again reminded – we are an Easter People.

In the early days of Christianity, St. Augustine proclaimed: “We are Easter people and alleluia is our song!” Yes, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of our Christian faith. The only response that makes sense is the one we will sing for fifty days, from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday, “Alleluia! Praise to our God!”

Easter celebrates such wonderful good news that Christian people should never find one day long enough to celebrate its importance in their lives. The fifty days of the Easter season offer much food for our journey of faith. God’s holy word is rich, and if we listen closely to the Easter story, we too will be transformed, restored and renewed.

The good news of Easter is that Jesus Christ continues to be alive among us today. The events of Holy Week were real, but they were not the end. Throughout the Easter season in our readings from the Acts of the Apostles, we encounter the friends of Jesus who met the risen Lord and were obviously changed in a dramatic fashion. They were relentless in their pursuit of continuing the mission of Jesus Christ.

As Easter People we know that Mary Magdalene and the other women did find the tomb of Jesus open and empty that first Easter morning. Jesus did die, was buried and rose again so we might have life – a new life in Christ. It is the heart of our faith. The passage from death to life which was experienced by Jesus Christ must also be experienced by every Christian. It is what sends us into the world as Easter people to carry out Christ’s mission in the world.

Each Easter gives us the opportunity to once again be in touch with the new life in Christ we celebrate. We are reminded at the great Easter Vigil as we renew our baptismal vows together that it is through the water of baptism we move from death to new life. The chains of the old life have been broken and we rise into the new life in Christ as Easter people, – people of the resurrection.

The joy of the Easter message for those who follow Christ is that each Easter we once again celebrate the fact we are Easter people and alleluia is our song!

Happy Easter!

+Barbara

 

~ from the March 27, 2018 Territory Bulletin

A Holy Week Message from the Anglican Primate

“Standing Under In Order To Understand”

By Fred Hiltz, Archbishop and Primate on

Here is wisdom for devotions in the coming week. It is a gift from Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford. In his chapter “A Good Holy Week” in a book entitled A Good Year, he reminds us that day-by-day the liturgies take us ultimately to Calvary and to the foot of the Cross.  He writes:

“On that first Good Friday, only a few people could do it. Those who promised most were first to flee. But let us be those who stand there today, not understanding but standing under in order to understand. Standing with empty hands and hopeful hearts. For it is only under the cross that we will begin to comprehend its meaning, receive its complicated joys and then help bear it to the world, not carrying it under our arm but shouldering it with Christ for the sake of the world. All this is the uncomfortable and beautiful gift of a good Holy Week.”

I take Cottrell’s wisdom as invitation in considering how those who actually stood at the foot of the Cross were beginning to comprehend the mystery of such wondrous and sacrificial love—love so amazing, so divine. I think of those who may have pondered Jesus’ prayer from the Cross, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). I think of the penitent thief who turned his face so as to see Jesus and make his plea, “Lord, remember when you come into your kingdom”. (Luke 23:42) I think of the centurion who heard Jesus breathe his last, and then said in a whisper or a shout—we will never know—“Truly this was the Son of God.”  (Mark 15:39) Peter stood some distance from the Cross. Through his tears for having denied he even knew Jesus the night before, he was perhaps beginning to comprehend the true nature of his very own confession at Caesarea Phillipi that Jesus was the Christ, and all the truth that Jesus had spoken with respect to the suffering that would come upon him as The Anointed of God. After the Resurrection, Peter would indeed come to see the Cross as “in accord with the plan and foreknowledge of God”. (Acts 2:23)

Then there is Paul. Once an enemy of the Cross, he would in time speak of it in a deeply personal manner. “May I never boast of anything except the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world”. (Ephesians 6:14) He would preach the Cross as “the power of God in Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:18), “to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven” (Colossians 1:19). Paul would write to the Corinthians saying that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” and “entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

This reconciliation accomplished in Christ is the essence of the Eucharist. When we have celebrated it within the liturgy then we must embody it in our work in the world.

Sadly, our world is marred by deep divides, rendering it in so many ways to be so remote from the will and word and ways of God. It is afflicted with the evil of racism, the horrors of gender-based violence, and the crime of trafficking men and women and children for multiple forms of labour that exploit their dignity. Our world is angered by deception in the realms of social media. It is torn apart by the frightening rise of extreme nationalism and the tactic of bullying that drive it. Our world is shadowed by lusts for power that trample others, and unbridled greed that leaves so very few so very wealthy, and so very many so very poor. Our world is outraged by the blasphemy of religiously motivated persecution. It is stained with the blood of so many innocent victims of violence. Our world is characterized by a flagrant disregard on the part of so many for any reverence for the earth itself.

As I “stand under in order to understand” the Cross, I cannot help but think about these things, nor can I help but think of those whose life’s work is reconciliation. I think of those who work for the United Nations Security Council, and those who work for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples within many countries including our own. I think of those who labour for gender equality and opportunity. I think of those who labour for a global politic and an economic order that is good and just for all. I think of those who press world leaders to hold to their accords with respect to addressing climate change.

With gratitude I am carrying into this Holy Week Cottrell’s image of “standing under in order to understand” the Cross. The experience is drawing out of me every usual expression of a piety that is deeply personal, one that is indeed reflected in the hymns of Holy Week. It is also summoning out of me a piety that is much more worldly, one that is indeed mindful of the harsh realities of our time in history and in the prayers of Holy Week, not the least of which is the Solemn Intercession for Good Friday.

In praying for the Church through Holy Week, I am praying for renewal in its call as Cottrell says, “to shoulder the Cross of Christ, for the sake of the world”.

~ from the Anglican Church of Canada’s website

World Day of Prayer

Join people all over the world on Friday, March 2nd for the 2018 worship service and celebration written by the Suriname World Day of Prayer Committee and adapted for use in Canada by The Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada.

In Barriere, the service will be at the Pentecostal Christian Life Assembly at 11:00 am.
In Clearwater, the service is being hosted by Living Streams Christian Fellowship at the New Life Assembly Church at 1:30 pm.  Refreshments will be served following the service.

All God’s Creation Is Very Good!

Surinamese artist Alice Pomstra-Elmont depicts hands symbolically receiving the divine gift of Creation. She says, “Let us keep it as beautiful as we received it.”

As in the beginning, God created from chaos. But everything that was created found its place in creation. All were related to each other – the earth with the light, the waters with the sky, the tree seeds with the living creatures, and the humankind with God. None could exist without the other, and the source of all was God.

There was goodness in that integrated system of relationships. But essential to that was the commitment to care. And we know that we are failing!

Women from Suriname lift up their voices to remind us that we are caretakers of God’s creation! They are bringing to our attention the urgent need for caring at a time when more than 180 countries have signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. A commitment to keep the earth cooler depends on public policies implemented by governments, but also on our personal lifestyle.

As one of our Guiding Principles affirms “prayer is rooted in listening to God and to one another.” Through the worship service, we listen to the multicultural and multi-ethnic people of Suriname. They take us to their communities and through their concerns. History is before our eyes! The flora and fauna are remarkable! The everyday life is weaved into the prayers.
How good is God’s creation? That is the question to meditate and respond to with a personal commitment to care for creation. But it can also be an opportunity for the WDP motto “Informed prayer and prayerful action” to be affirmed in the community. What is it that we, as the WDP movement, can do to keep God’s creation good?

~ from the World Day of Prayer International Committee’s Website

 

Moderator Addresses Racism, Privilege after Stanley Verdict

A Letter in Response to the Colten Boushie Case

Friends in Christ:

On Friday, February 9, 2018, The United Church of Canada posted a response to the good news that Bill C-262, an act to harmonize Canadian law with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, had passed second reading. Optimistically, perhaps naively, we titled it “A Promise of What Canada Can Be.”

I say “naively” because later that day, the reality of what Canada is was made clear when a not-guilty verdict was returned in the second-degree murder trial of Gerald Stanley. Stanley had been charged in the death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old man from Red Pheasant First Nation in Treaty 6 (Saskatchewan), who with a group of friends turned up on Stanley’s farm late in the afternoon of August 9, 2016. After a series of events, three gunshots were fired from a pistol handled by Stanley. Colten Boushie, who never left the vehicle he arrived in, was killed by a bullet to the head. Stanley was acquitted on the grounds that the gun accidentally fired a third time after two warning shots.

There has been much discussion in the court, media, and social media of the First Nations young adults’ behaviour on the farm; of Gerald Stanley’s and his son’s response; and of the Stanleys’ conduct after Colten Boushie’s death.

What happened on that farm was preceded and followed by the racism and White privilege that are embedded in Canadian society. Those of us in the dominant culture are reluctant to name this. Similarly, those of us who are White are reluctant to acknowledge and confront our privilege.

Imagine the police conducting an armed search of your home as they tell you that your child has been shot and killed. I can’t.

Imagine that your child has been shot and killed, and that everybody on the jury looks like the shooter. No one looks like you or your child. I can’t.

The church is no stranger to racism and privilege; indeed, those beliefs drove the colonial policies to assimilate Indigenous Peoples that we, with the government, pursued in the running of Indian Residential Schools. Those beliefs persist in prejudices that non-Indigenous peoples may not even recognize they hold. And as the 2016 findings of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found, they remain in policies and structures that treat Indigenous peoples in Canada as lesser than others.

When the United Church committed to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), we committed to dismantling those beliefs, policies, and structures. We committed to building a new relationship. We did not pick and choose which Calls to Action we would support. Instead, like the Government of Canada, we pledged to support all of them. That includes 18 directed toward the justice system.

As we embrace the principles, norms, and standards of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we uphold our belief that Indigenous peoples have the right to be free from discrimination. This is entirely fitting with our belief that “racism is a sin and violates God’s desire for humanity” (That All May Be One, 1997).

I am therefore asking you to reflect on the legal system’s response to the violent death of a young Indigenous man in a Canada that says it is committed to reconciliation. I am asking you to reflect as members of a church that has also pledged its commitment to reconciliation and to confronting racism.

To the members of the United Church’s 64 Indigenous communities of faith and to Indigenous members of the church in urban areas and other communities of faith, I say that the United Church will continue to seek to build a new relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. We understand that this cannot be accomplished simply with words. It requires confronting our own racism and dismantling systems of privilege that deny you your rightful place in the life of your nations and this country.

To the those of you who are members of non-Indigenous communities of faith in the United Church, I ask you to think about what our Indigenous relations are experiencing and feeling in this moment. I ask you to think about how you can respond in a way that will be meaningful for them, and that will contribute to a new relationship between us.

What can we do? We can pray for those affected by this case, and for all those who have been or are being harmed by the systemic racism that underlies it. We can pray for the strength to face hard truths. We can join in public witness and support. We can learn more about what changes the TRC has recommended for the Canadian legal system with respect to Indigenous peoples (Calls to Action 25-42), and we can advocate with political leaders for the fulfillment of those reforms. Most importantly, we can acknowledge and confront our own racism and privilege.

In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963), in which he challenged the White church in the United States to truly stand up to the values, policies, and structures of racism, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote:

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

That is my hope as well. But I know that it is not enough to hope. We will never realize the promise of what Canada can be unless we all work to make it so.

All My Relations,

The Right Reverend Jordan Cantwell
Moderator
The United Church of Canada

Moderator Jordan Cantwell speaks at Wanakapew United Church, Peepeekisis First Nation, Treaty 4 (Saskatchewan), July 2017.
Credit:
Sara Stratton

~ from the United Church of Canada website