Watchers and Holy Ones

Daily Advent Devotions from Lutherans Connect

Angels in Adoration (detail) by Benozzo Gozzoli (Source: Wikimedia Commons http://bit.ly/2AfxaGE)

The following is how Lutherans Connect has described this year’s on-line Advent daily devotions:

Many of us wish we could spend more time in spiritual practice than we do, but often find it challenging to make space for it in the day-to-day challenges of our lives. During the weeks leading up to Christmas it can be especially difficult to imagine a peacefulness in which we can experience God’s presence.

In the spirit of our ongoing seasonal devotional projects, Lutherans Connect invites you to make space for reflection and prayer this Advent by joining us in daily online devotions. As we have done in the past, these daily meditations will bring together scripture readings, poetry, songs and reflections, from a wide range of ecumenical traditions.

Our theme this Advent is ‘watchers and holy ones’. Inspired by the encounter of Mary and Gabriel in Luke 1, we will follow the path of the divine beings who profoundly impact and alter the lives of key figures in Scripture. Known more popularly as ‘angels’, these heavenly messengers bring news, instruction or just accompaniment as an expression of being ‘watchful’, ’awake’ and very present to the dilemmas of the biblical figures they encounter. Is there a path from the wilderness experience of Hagar to that of the adult Jesus? How do divine beings help to shape the biblical story?

In addition, we will also explore the ‘watches of the night’ in Scripture. These watches, or units of time from dusk to dawn, derive from the military exercise of keeping guard in times of battle. In Mark 13 Jesus also uses them as a metaphor for how we can learn to wait for His coming again. In the story of the nativity, the image is transformed to foreshadow Jesus the Shepherd, as shepherds themselves keep watch by night. What does it mean to each of us to be awake and prepared for new life?

Join us daily from December 3rd to December 24th as we reflect together and anticipate a dawn of hope. And may you experience the peace of the coming Saviour this Advent and always!

The devotionals can be found on the Lutherans Connect blog post or their facebook page.  You can also ask to have the devotionals e-mailed to you by writing lutheransconnect@gmail.com.

United Church Moderator’s 2017 Advent Message

Jordan Cantwell Reminds Us That God Is Always With Us

Using a discovery found during the renovations at the United Church office, Moderator Jordan Cantwell offers insight for the Advent Season.  In her Advent Message, she explains how “sometimes we need to break away from the old to tear down the walls so that we can allow God’s light to shine through.”

Augsburg Peace Prize Awarded

Rev. Dr. Martin Junge Receives 2017 Augsburg Peace Prize on October 20th

From left: Bishop Michael Grabow, Rev. Dr Martin Junge, Dr. Kurt Gribl. Photo: Ruth Plössel. ~ from the Lutheran World Federation Website

~ from The World Lutheran Federation Website, posted October 20, 2017

“Dialogue pays off, conflicts can be overcome”

Rev. Dr. Martin Junge, General Secretary of The Lutheran World Foundation (LWF), was today awarded the Augsburg Peace Prize for 2017 in Augsburg, Germany. Speaking at the ceremony in the ceremonial room of the Town Hall, General Secretary Junge underlined the peaceful character of religions and opposed any instrumentalization of faith.

In his tribute, César Carcía, General Secretary of the Mennonite World Conference, praised Junge as someone who “does not keep his distance but actively calls for reconciliation.” He deserved this acknowledgement, Garcia stated, in view of his untiring work for reconciliation among the denominations and on behalf of justice and peace. Dr. Kurt Gribl, lord mayor of Augsburg, presented Martin Junge with the award, a sculpture entitled “Paxible”.

In his response, Junge said: “Religious communities, including Christian ones, must remain alert and recognize when their potential for conflict is being mobilized instead of their fundamental peace-building orientation. I regard it as one of the prime tasks for us religious leaders to take responsibility for ensuring that the negative potential of religions can neither develop nor be instrumentalized politically.”

Signs of peace in a polarized world

The LWF General Secretary pointed out that, with the 1555 treaty known as the Peace of Augsburg, the City of Augsburg stands for the efforts to make peace between Catholics and Lutherans. At the same time, he added, the date reminds us of the wars of religion and Christianity’s potential for violence. The joint Catholic-Lutheran commemoration on 31 October 2016 in Lund had sent a clear signal “that dialogue pays off, that conflict can be overcome.”  Churches should also oppose current social developments with this message, he underlined. “A mindset of withdrawal can be observed that endangers communities, including communities of states, and even threatens them with division”.

“Worship and world service belong together”

The Chilean theologian issued an appeal not to regard the church as an end in itself: “Worship and service to the world belong together,” Junge stated. The Lutheran World Federation is also one of the biggest Protestant organizations for emergency relief and development assistance. With respect to the worldwide refugee movements, he recalled that caring for the suffering neighbor is an inalienable part of Christian identity. “Those who claim that Europe must close its borders to preserve its Christian identity do not understand the meaning of Christian faith at all.”

Mennonite gives laudatory address                  

César García remarked on extraordinary fact that he, a Mennonite, could now make this speech of tribute: “Centuries ago it would have been inconceivable for an Anabaptist-Mennonite leader to speak in honor of a Lutheran leader in this city. The years of religious violence, of martyrdom and persecution are over – through the miracle of reconciliation in which Martin Junge played a major role.” He was referring to an event at the Eleventh LWF Assembly in 2010 in Stuttgart, Germany. In a historic plea for reconciliation, the LWF asked the Mennonites for forgiveness in view of the persecutions their forbears had suffered for their beliefs. Soon afterwards, the LWF, the Mennonites and the Catholic Church began a still ongoing trilateral dialogue on the understanding of baptism.

Augsburg Peace Festival

The Augsburg Peace Festival has been celebrated every year since 1650 on 8 August. And every three years since 1985 the Augsburg Peace Prize “for special achievements promoting areas of interconfessional agreement” has been jointly awarded by the City of Augsburg and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria. The jury is chaired by Regional Bishop Michael Grabow. Former prize-winners include Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria and Richard von Weizsäcker. The prize is endowed with €12,500. Before the award ceremony, the LWF General Secretary participated in an ecumenical service in Augsburg’s St. Anne’s Church. There he joined the head of the Ecumenical Department of the Bavarian Church, OKR Michael Martin, in a dialogue sermon.

Voices United Community Choir Have Begun Practices!

It’s Not Too Late To Join!

The Voices United Community Choir started warming up their voices October 4th as they begin the preparation for this year’s Cantata performances.  A new cantata has been chosen:  Pepper Choplin’s Go Sing It on the Mountain.  

Practices occur on Wednesdays starting at 4:30 pm and run for an hour.  They are held at St. James’ Catholic Church.  All who enjoy singing in harmony are welcome to be members.  There is a $10 membership fee that is used to help purchase the music. Part dominant CDs are available to help individuals learn the songs.  As well, there are section practices.

This Choir is sponsored by Trinity Shared Ministry.  It is ably directed by Louise Weaver.  The Cantata will be performed in mid-December.

Reformation Study

Together In Christ

This five week study covers the five hundred year arc of history from the 16th Century Reformation until now.  It was prepared by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

In Barriere, the study will be held at the Church of St Paul on Tuesdays at 2 pm beginning on October 3rd .

In Clearwater, the study will be held at St. James Catholic Church on Wednesdays at 2 pm beginning on October 4th.

Emergencies at Home and around the Globe

The United Church of Canada Offers Ways to Respond

Schoolchildren wade past a waterlogged railway street in the rain in Mumbai, India
Credit:
Associated Press/Rajanish Kakade as posted by United Church of Canada

The United Church of Canada is monitoring several situations around the world where people are facing the effects of extreme weather events. Please join us in praying for those impacted by these events, our partners in the regions, and those who remain in harm’s way from approaching storms. Find out more about the United Church response to these situations and how you can help.

  • The United Church of Canada is accepting donations for relief efforts related to Hurricane Irma. The United Church of Canada works with several churches and agencies throughout the Caribbean region, including ACT Alliance, the Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas, the Cuban Council of Churches, and the Karl Lévêque Cultural Institute. This provides multiple ways that the church can assist people affected by Hurricane Irma to assist with evacuations and emergency shelter where necessary, and to plan for post-storm responses.
  • In the United States, our full communion partner, the United Church of Christ, is initiating responses to the ongoing wind and flood disaster on the Gulf Coast. The United Church of Christ is accepting donations for these efforts.
  • Floods in parts of southeast Asia are causing significant hardship and loss of life as well as property. The United Church of Canada has responded to emergency relief efforts in India through Mission & Service partner ACT Alliance. We have also contributed to an ecumenical emergency response in India through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. We continue to monitor the situation and discern how best we can offer support and prayer. And we ask people to pray for all those affected.
  • Close to home, First Nations communities in northern Manitoba are experiencing devastation from forest fires requiring evacuation. We are tracking this situation closely and are working with our Indigenous colleagues to determine an appropriate response from the people of The United Church of Canada. Please join the Aboriginal Ministries Circle in prayer.

Faith communities and individuals can use the prayer, “Gather Us, Great Creator” to pray for all those who are being affected by extreme weather events.

Churches Call for Dialogue and Nonviolent Resolution with North Korea

World Council of Churches Reports on the Work of Member Churches

In an August 17th post on the World Council of Churches’ website, concern for the situation developing between North Korea and the United States is voiced.

 

As the recent developments of nuclear weapons and increased tensions between United States and North Korea leaders can bring the world to the brink of war, churches around the world are calling for bilateral dialogue, expressing their commitment to peace and nonviolent resolution.

. . .

At this time of heightened tension around the Korean peninsula, United Church of Canada stands with its global partners in their calls for dialogue to reduce tensions and renew international efforts to promote peace and reconciliation.

“The United Church of Canada has a long history of mission relationships in Korea spanning well over 100 years”, says Patti Talbot, who is responsible for United Church Partnerships in Northeast Asia. “When peace is threatened, Christians and other people of faith need to be present and active.” The United Church affirms the courageous witness of its global partner, The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), which continues to urge the South Korean and other governments to engage in dialogue, de-escalation, and disarmament, rather than taking steps toward military action.

Read the entire article here to get a sense of how other churches and church organizations are responding to this crisis.

Annual Parish Worship Service and Picnic

June 25th, starting at 11:00 am
at the Church of St Paul

Providing the weather cooperates, the congregations of Trinity Shared Ministry and the Church of St Paul will hold the annual Parish Worship Service on the lawn beside the Church of St Paul.  Following worship, the traditional picnic of hotdogs, salads, and desserts will be held with folks choosing to sit inside or out.

 

This year, the Church of St Paul congregation is hosting which means they are responsible for the hotdogs and all the trimmings; Trinity Shared Ministry, the salads.  Desserts are welcome from either congregation.  Bring a lawn chair!

Online Devotional for Pentecost

Voices of the Spirit

 

Lutherans Connect has provided online devotionals for the major seasons of the Christian year.  Each devotion includes art, music, readings, and reflections.  The series for Pentecost will begin on Sunday, June 4th.

 

Here is the post describing “Voices of the Spirit”.

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 ongoing seasonal devotional projects, Lutherans Connect invites you to make space for reflection during the first five 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.

Our project for Pentecost brings together aspects of both the Advent 2016 and Lenten 2017 projects. Taking inspiration from the Acts 2 description of how the presence of the Holy Spirit in the upper room opened the ears of those gathered, our theme this summer reflects on the capacity of language to open our hearts and minds to other peoples, communities and traditions.

For eighteen days, starting on June 4th and going every other day until July 8th, LC† Voices of the Spirit will imagine a world in which we hear and understand the languages of those we live among. Some of the languages present at the time of Pentecost will be explored. Most other times we will hear about the languages of our own land, including those which have been lost and are being reclaimed and recovered by Indigenous communities. And we will also reflect on the languages brought to this land by recent immigrants, some of whom have ancestral ties to the upper room. What are the stories of faith and spirituality that we carry with us in our languages? How do these unite us more than we may think?

Join us on Sunday, June 4th and experience the wonder of the disciples as we discern together “what does it mean” to be able to really hear each other’s voices? And blessings on your Pentecost!

You can access the devotions through the Lutherans Connect blog or their facebook page.  For the latter, you would need to log into facebook.  If you like the page, the posts will appear in your timeline.