World Day of Prayer – Friday, March 5, 2021

The invitation is out for everyone – men, women, and children of all ages – to join the 2021 World Day of Prayer as we celebrate the theme: Build on a Firm Foundation. Vanuatu, a chain of islands to the east of Australia, has prepared the service this year. We are encouraged to reflect on the challenges this republic has encountered during its steps to independence over the last forty years. The writing team has shared the injustice obstacles that the women of Vanuatu have met, and the hopes they have for the future. These experiences unite us all in prayer and solidarity.

World Day of Prayer is an international, inter-church event that began 99 years ago bridging social, geographic, and political barriers in over 170 countries. The weekend of prayer begins in Samoa and then travels in many languages throughout the world — through Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Australia, and the Americas. Together we pursue justice, peace, and reconciliation by standing together in prayer and action.

The preparation for the day is vast. An international committee is based in New York and there are national committees and organizations in each participating country. In Canada, the World Day of Prayer (WDP) is coordinated by the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada (WICC), one of the original founders of this prayer movement.

Offerings received through the World Day of Prayer transform our prayers into action in the form of project grants empowering women and children in our own country and throughout the world. All regions share in the grants, with consideration given to greatest need. Through WDP offerings, WICC has distributed over 2.5 million dollars in the past 35 years. The vision is to restore hope to women and children touched by injustice.

Service Information

The Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada (WICC) invites you, your friends and family to join a service in over 1,100 Canadian communities on or near Friday March 5, 2021.   Many of these will take place via Zoom. As well, individuals and families are welcome to watch a one-hour WDP service video prepared by WICC that features participants from across Canada. This video will be available on the WICC World Day of Prayer page.

A Kamloops World Day of Prayer service will be on Friday, March 5, 2021 at 1 PM( PST).  The local organizers include St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Holy Family Parish, Kamloops United, Hills of Peace Lutheran, St. Andrews Presbyterian, St. Peter’s Monty Creek, St. Alban’s Ashcroft.  Join us via Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81858550240?pwd=WGdOOWNEdUFQUE1JV3pPMUh3SUFGZz09

~ adapted from a media release by the Kamloops Organizing Committee

Information about Vanuatu

The website for the World Day of Prayer International Committee provides much information.  There is information about the artist Juliette Pita, whose painting was chosen to represent this year’s theme as well as explanation of the development of this year’s service by the Vanuatu Writing Committee.

The WICC World Day of Prayer page also included a two page backgrounder about Vanuatu.  A map giving the approximate location of Vanuatu was also available.

Cyclone Pam II: 13th of March, 2015 by Juliette Pita

 

Coldest Night of the Year 2021

Support for First United Church in Vancouver
Exceeded Their Original Goal by 300%

Coldest Night of the Year is a national fundraising walk to raise awareness and funds for charities that support people experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty.  First United Church in Vancouver participated this year.  According to their website, the support they received far exceeded their expectations.

25 teams rallied and recruited 149 walkers to trek 2 or 5 kilometers in the cold, all in support of one thing: our mission to provide advocacy, survival-supports, and sanctuary in the heart of the city. These outstanding leaders went above and beyond: collectively, they gathered support from 1,040 donors who contributed $79,767. They exceeded our original goal of $20,000 by 300%!

Rev. Dr. Carment Lansdowne, Executive Director of First United, writes

We are truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from individuals, businesses, and communities of faith who believe in our mission so fiercely. Their collective efforts resulted in raising $79,252 for our work—almost 300% more than our original goal. We’re so grateful to our sponsors Strathcona Business Improvement Association and BC Housing for their ongoing commitment to support our neighbours experiencing extreme poverty in the Downtown Eastside. Their leadership helps us provide survival-supports, advocacy, and sanctuary to those we serve.

For more information and to see a list of the teams, follow the link to First United Church’s post.

 

On-Line Devotionals for Lent from Lutherans Connect

Retelling the Stories

Ash Wednesday to Easter ~ Monday – Saturday

Lutherans Connect – Image source:
https://bit.ly/3afW2ij

In less than a week it will be Ash Wednesday, when we mark the beginning of our journey with Jesus in the wilderness. Lutherans Connect invites you to make space for that journey in Lent, by joining us from Monday to Saturday until Palm Sunday and every day in Holy Week. As usual, we will bring together scripture readings, poetry, music, reflection and images from a wide range of ecumenical traditions in a daily online devotion.

This year the Lenten project will focus on how we tell and retell the stories of our religious and cultural traditions. In this year when the ELCIC has been called to read the bible more intentionally, we will explore how the biblical people told and retold their own stories. How did Jesus and the disciples recast the words of the prophets? And what were the ancient texts that those prophets used to speak to their own context?

We will also look at how stories are retold in our own times. What happens when stories are not told, or retold untruthfully, or doubted and shamed? How can we be called to make space for the stories we need to hear even when we know they will challenge us? How do the ways we tell the stories of our faith marginalize or exclude others who are different from us, and what can we do to change that?

New this Lent: over the past year, the church has developed impressive Sunday resources for devotion, worship and reflection. Therefore, this year, we will not publish on Sundays. Instead, each Saturday, we will offer links to other rich resources on offer.

Join us, Monday to Saturday starting February 17th, as we journey with Jesus to the Cross and beyond. And may the peace of Christ be with you and bless you this Lent.

~ from Lutherans Connect Facebook page

You can access these devotionals from the Lutherans Connect Facebook page or their blog.

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 18th – 25th

Every year, Christians around the world are invited to celebrate a Week of Prayer for the unity of all Christians, to reflect on scripture together, to participate in jointly-organized ecumenical services, and to share fellowship.  In the northern hemisphere, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally held every year between January 18th (the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter) and January 25th (the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul). In the southern hemisphere, it is often celebrated during the Pentecost season.

The international resources for 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland, a group of religious sisters from different church traditions brought together by a common vocation of prayer, community life and hospitality, and by their commitment to Christian unity.

The 2021 theme – Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit (John 15:5-9) – calls us to pray and to work for reconciliation and unity in the church, with our human family, and with all of creation.  Drawing on the Gospel image of vine and branches, it invites us to nourish unity with God and with one another through contemplative silence, prayer, and common action.  Grafted into Christ the vine as many diverse branches, may we bear rich fruit and create new ways of living, with respect for and communion with all of creation.

A variety of resources have been developed for this week including Biblical Reflections and Prayers for the eight days.  Each day includes scripture readings, a brief meditation, questions for reflection, and a prayer.

For more information go to https://www.weekofprayer.ca/

 

 

Happy New Year!

A Reflection from Archbishop and Primate Linda Nicholls

~ posted on January 1, 2021 on Ministry Matters, a website of the Anglican Church of Canada

Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
Credit: Michael Hudson/Anglican Church of Canada

The beginning of a new year comes with a yearning for a fresh start. Traditional images shift from Father Time, as an elderly man bowed with age, to a new baby with potential and promise for life just beginning. Given the year we have just had, we certainly want a fresh start — a new year without a pandemic. We often approach this fresh start each year with the tradition of New Year resolutions. We say, “This year I will stop smoking; diet properly; exercise more; drink less; or, spend more time with the children.” We all have a list of fresh starts we want to begin or at least think we should begin.

However, the New Year is not a complete fresh start. We enter the year with history, burdens, habits, attitudes, practices and consequences of the past that come with us. We are not reborn on January 1st like a baby with no memory.

The pandemic is not over. We have months ahead of us of continued social distancing, mask-wearing and carefulness in group contacts. And 2020 has opened up deep wounds that we carry with us into this New Year.

In the early months of 2020, we saw the vulnerability of our seniors in long-term care, places where COVID-19 rampaged, killing many and was exacerbated due to the employment structures of part-time multi-employer staff. We realized that the people most essential to our life are called to put their lives at risk so that we can have food and healthcare and many are poorly paid for that sacrifice. We have seen Indigenous communities in the second wave facing a COVID-19 infection rate of 70%, due lack of adequate healthcare; crowded living conditions; lack of resources.

Names have become symbolic of wounds in our social fabric. George Floyd and Barbara Kentner revealed the depths of systemic racism in North America—including Canada, where we like to think we are not implicated—while statistics and Black, Indigenous and people of colour, tell us otherwise. Regis Korchinski-Paquet and Chantel Moore tell the story of how we fail those suffering with mental illness, even as we place police forces in circumstances for which they are not trained, leading to tragic consequences.

Every week I receive multiple heart-wrenching pleas for refugee sponsorship from people who are trapped in camps or in countries where they cannot work and are not welcome and they are desperate for help for the sake of their family.

Under the weight of so much pain and suffering, I know my heart has felt a new and deeper grief. Why? Because we have an inner compass that knows these should not happen. We know better ways to live. We know that the tenets of the Golden Rule — “Do unto others as you would them do unto you” — and know it is not being honoured. None of these situations will be changed by the passage from 2020 to 2021. We bring these wounds with us. The societal shifts needed are overwhelming and lead to a sense of powerlessness and grief.

Recently I attended a webinar on mental health for clergy. In this webinar, I was introduced to terms that have given me a new language for what I had termed as ‘grief’, because ‘grief’ was not sufficient for the depth and power of despair I felt. A language that describes this feeling is ‘moral injury’. That term has arisen in psychological literature concerning military personnel, similar (though not identical) to PTSD. A moral injury is ‘… the damage done to one’s conscience or moral compass when that person perpetrates, witnesses or fails to prevent acts that transgress one’s own moral beliefs, values or ethical codes of conduct.’

When I heard this definition, it resonated deeply with my experience of the events of the past year — and frankly, the layering of events we have seen over many years, including our complicity in Residential Schools and the work of decolonization still needed. There is a gap between this reality and what we profess in our baptismal covenant and see in scripture, in passages like Revelation 21:1–6, where we envision a time when God will dwell in our midst and wipe every tear away and there will be no more sorrow or crying or pain. We envision the ‘new Jerusalem — city of God’ as a place:

    • of justice, mercy, compassion for all people;
    • of dignity and care where loving neighbour as self is exercised for all;
    • of honouring our elders;
    • of caring for the most vulnerable; and,
    • of structuring our world so that we value those most essential to our health and well-being.

Although we know the reign of God has not yet come in full, the depth of the gap between our longing, our actions and the present reality is often invisible to us. COVID-19 ripped away any veils between us and its reality, and showed us the breadth and depth of the work we are called to.

A moral injury requires us to acknowledge that we share in the pain of the world. We share responsibility for the pain that we have inherited from past generations; the pain that we have caused; and the pain that we have ignored or not seen and we must share in all that can be done to bringing the first signs of healing and glimpses of the reign of God.

Coming face to face with the pain of the world, will we see it around us and take steps towards healing that injury? We cannot heal the whole world at once, but we can begin with one step every day — one act of mercy; one recognition of injustice we oppose; one letter of advocacy for change; one refusal to be complicit with a racist comment. We need to focus on the actions and words that are within our power — however small they may seem — and commit to doing them. The biggest changes begin with one step. We must also commit to seeing the pain, listening to those at its heart and be willing to enter the long haul of change that starts with one step and may take years to complete.

We also need to look for and hold up the many, many actions of others that are moments of grace and healing and hope. I am deeply grateful to live in Canada where financial relief was offered so quickly to so many in the pandemic; where our government has acted to ensure availability of the vaccine; where healthcare workers have worked tirelessly to protect and care for patients; where, when needed, our military can provide on-the-ground assistance to desperate communities; and, where Canadians are rightly advocating for equitable distribution of the vaccine, the rights of migrants workers and a living basic income.

I am deeply grateful for: the resilience of our church communities; for clergy who pivoted quickly to online forms of worship; for bishops and clergy who offer daily morning/evening prayer, compline or messages of hope; for musicians of have found new ways to offer music and hymns; for Wardens and parishioners who have stepped up to the challenges of new protocols and constantly changing limitations; for parishes whose outreach ministries quickly changed from in-house community dinners or food banks, to pre-packed and delivered meals; for wonderfully creative ways to cheer up spirits — drive-by birthday celebrations, drive-through living creches, Advent craft bags for families, and Gospel Jamborees on radio and online sharing the richness of Indigenous music-making to the glory of God.

We see the New Year as a fresh start — but we carry with us the burdens of the past years. Let us be the fresh start that is needed. Name the pain we feel and make a resolution to commit afresh to one step a day towards healing and hope. That resolution will need courage and perseverance. Thankfully we do not enter the year alone. We enter it with Christ and all who have gone before us in this journey.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who for the sake of the joy that was set before him
endured the cross, disregarding its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”
(Hebrews 12:1–2)

Moderator’s Christmas Message 2020

Merry Christmas, beloved friends. May Christ’s peace be with you, always.

How are you? I hope you are finding times of joy. Moments when the love of God shines through the clouds that have appeared this year. The story of Jesus’ birth is not completely a beautiful one. The birth of Jesus was not easy. But in the midst of all these difficulties, the beautiful, amazing, and immense love of God was made tangible in a tiny little baby. Remind yourself―and the world―of the message the angels proclaimed: Do not be afraid! Good news! Great joy!

Christ is with us now! Christ is born!

Merry Christmas, beloved friends. May Christ’s peace be with you, always.

~ a synopsis of the video as found on The United Church of Canada’s website

View the message here.

Lessons and Carols

A Coast to Coast Worship Service
from the Anglican Church of Canada

The service of Lessons and Carols is one of the most widely-anticipated and well-known events during Advent. And yet, many may not experience this event locally, due to a number of physical worship spaces being temporarily closed due to public health protocols related to the pandemic. Anticipating this potential reality, General Synod has worked with Anglican cathedrals across Canada to offer a special, national service of Lessons and Carols this Advent season, and to help us all prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

~ from the Anglican Church of Canada website

The service was originally broadcast on December 18th.  It is now available to be watched at any time.  The bulletin can be downloaded here.  It includes the words of the hymns.

Lutherans Connect On-Line Devotionals from Advent through Epiphany

Longing For Renewal

November 29th to January 6th

Image: “Homage to A.Y. Red Maple”, by Patrick Doheny. Found here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/14132971@N05/2093714119

How do we have hope in a time of frustration and fear?  How can we renew our sense of mystery and wonder, when mostly we feel exhausted and disappointed?  Inspired by Isaiah 43 and God’s promise of “doing a new thing”, we will explore the ways that God has manifest hope in the midst of immense challenge in Scripture, through acts of creativity and imagination that flow from God’s love for us.  From the Creation story to the birth of Jesus to the wonder of a natal star, for the first time ever, the Advent project will move through Christmas to Epiphany, offering daily reflections, music, images and art as a way of helping us all hope for a time of new creation.

As we go, we will consider the primary phrase of the annunciation to Mary, “be not afraid”, and will also reflect on the ways that figures in the biblical story have quoted Scripture to keep themselves going.  How can these words spoken centuries ago speak to us in our own time, challenging our uncertainties by deepening our discipleship?

Join us for thirty-nine days of prayer together.  And may the deep peace of Christ bless and be with you in the coming season!

~ from the Lutherans Connect blog

This on-line devotional can be accessed from the Lutherans Connect Facebook page or their blog.  It begins on Sunday, November 29th and concludes on Wednesday, January 6th.

The Lutherans Connect online devotional projects are supported by the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, through its Mission Committee partnerships.