Emotions Abound Upon Hearing the News of the Shootings of Muslim Worshippers in New Zealand

On March 15th, news broke of shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.  We join with people world-wide in expressing our horror and grief.  Individually and collectively, we pray for all those that have been impacted by this event.

Credit: Zora Kokanovic/Unsplash

Denominational Responses

All three of our denominations have responded.

United Church of Canada

On March 15th, the United Church of Canada posted the following:

The United Church of Canada strongly condemns the horrific attacks by a suspected White nationalist on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019. At least 49 people were killed and another 48 injured in this act of terrorism while Muslim worshippers were at Friday prayers.

The people of the United Church are deeply saddened and many are weeping alongside the families and friends of the people who were killed and injured. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes: “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:15–16a). People in the United Church are joining with people around the world in mourning the lives of the innocent victims lost in this abhorrent attack.

The United Church recognizes Islam as a religion of peace, mercy, justice, and compassion and has affirmed that the church wants to journey towards reconciliation, understanding, and cooperation with our Muslim neighbours. The church is deeply committed to working with Muslims and others for peace and justice for all humanity and to seeking ways to build right relationships among us.

~ Continue reading here.

As well, Moderator Rev. Richard Bott shared the following prayer on his facebook page on March 15th:

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
In Christchurch.
At worship.
At prayer.

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
For one reason:
because they were Muslim.

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
Hundreds grieving the death of family and friends.
Thousands even more afraid
for their loved ones and for themselves.

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
Because of fear, turned into rhetoric,
turned into anger, turned into
white supremacist hatred.

It is time to pray.
It is time to act.

It is time to stand, together,
to counter acts of hatred,
large or small,
with acts of love;
to counter acts of hatred,
wherever we encounter them,
with all that we have and all that we are;
to counter terror
with God’s peace.

Grieve.
Pray.
Act.
Love.

And my prayer, this day?
God… help us to do so.

Anglican Church of Canada

Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, posted the following on March 15:

Our hearts are aching for Muslims across our country and around the world in the wake of the massacre of so many faithful Muslims in the midst of their Friday prayers in Christchurch, Aotearoa-New Zealand.

We hold in our prayers today, and in the coming days, those who were killed and their grieving loved ones.

We also remember and pray for all those who were seriously injured, those who tend them, and those who responded to this crisis on the ground.

We pray too for the Muslim community in Quebec City, knowing that this tragedy will revive the horrors of the attack at the Grand Mosque in January 2017, and the murder of six worshippers who had just concluded evening prayers.

~ Continue reading here.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

On its facebook page, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada posted this message on March 15th:

A prayer from our National Bishop as we receive with shock the news of the attacks that occurred at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

God of consolation,
We mourn the two mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch. We pray for the victims, the injured, their families, and all who are now afraid of further violence. Strengthen us to stand with our Muslim neighbours against all forms of Islamophobia and to work to end gun violence.
Amen.

On March 19th, National Bishop Susan Johnson wrote an open letter to Muslim friends in Canada and Muslim neighbours in New Zealand.  She concludes the letter with these words:

I am inviting every community in our Church to embrace our Muslim sisters and brothers; to stand with our Muslim neighbours against all forms of Islamophobia; and to consider how we might reach out to one another in our communities, in gestures of support and human solidarity.

In times of shock, horror, and difficulty, people of faith look to the God of mercy for comfort, strength and hope. It is God’s steadfast presence and love that leads toward healing and restoration of spirit that helps us to choose the ways of peace.

The nurturing of interfaith relationships and respect for persons of other faith communities is of the utmost importance as we seek to worship and follow the God who always remembers and cherishes each of God’s children.

~ Read the entire letter or access it on the ELCIC website.

The Pacific Mountain Regional Council of the United Church of Canada

The following letter written to our Muslim brothers and sisters by Rev. Blair Odney, President Elect of the Pacific Mountain Regional Council, was published on the Pacific Mountain Region’s website:

March 15, 2019

In the absence of our President, the Reverend Jay Olson, who is out of the country, I write to you, on behalf of Christ’s people in the Pacific Mountain Region of the United Church of Canada, with a broken heart. We share a common practice; to gather in community, on the Sabbath, to give to the God who animates all life, our devotion, our praise, our commitment, our lives. And in the doing, we each pray for healing in God’s world, that all may live in peace and justice. Today, we watched in horror as your brothers and sisters in faith, in Christchurch New Zealand, gathering for Sabbath worship were assaulted by violent gunfire, killing 49 faithful followers, injuring 20 more. With sighs too deep for words, our hearts ache with you.

When fear and anger visit the earth with such a rampage, the whole world suffers. Faithful people of all traditions will assert this is not God’s way. This is not God’s intention. This is not consistent with our common call – to love God, and to love and serve our neighbour. While you mourn, we mourn. While you pray for healing, we will pray for healing. While you seek justice and God’s grace, we will seek justice and God’s grace. May our loving action bring us closer to a lasting compassion and peace.

We offer our deepest condolences.
S. Blair Odney
President Elect,
Pacific Mountain Regional Council
United Church of Canada

 

Lutherans Connect 2019 Lenten Devotional

Journey for Justice

Begins March 6th

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/39943768@N00/32776510916

Many of us would love to spend more time in spiritual practice than we do, but often find it hard to make space for it in the day-to-day challenges of our lives. In Lent, we are especially encouraged to make sacrifices or ‘fasts’ to help draw us into the deeper meaning of the story of Jesus’ time in the wilderness.

In the spirit of our previous Lenten and Advent online devotional projects, Lutherans Connect invites you to make space in Lent for reflection every day. To assist you we will offer a daily meditation, bringing together scripture readings, poetry, music and reflections, from a range of ecumenical traditions. They will be posted each morning on Facebook and Twitter — and new this season, Instagram!

Our theme this Lent is ‘prophetic imagination’. How do the visionary experiences of the biblical prophets and the prophets of our own time help to call out injustice and inspire us to work for change? Framing our journey with the Saturday prayers on Twitter of ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson, we will visit parts of the world where a prophetic imagination is helping to transform the lives of a community. At the same time, we will ask ourselves how we too can imagine a different world. What are the small and large ways that we can transform lives?

Jesus divided his time between ministry, teaching and healing — and time spent in the mountains in prayer. While we are exploring the injustices of the world, we will also take time to retreat into the places where we too might take time away to reflect on our relationship to God. Using the Google Trekker application, we will journey to places where (at least in a virtual way), we can wander into spacious wilderness spaces of God’s creation.

A final theme will be one of justice pilgrimages. Taking a spin on the idea of the solitary distance walker, we will imagine the contemporary justice march as a form of ‘pilgrimage’. What are some of the ways that communities coming together have shown solidarity in their push for justice? Where in the world has a small or large walk or march brought awareness to the conditions of those who are marginalized or disadvantaged? How can we show our support for them? And perhaps even organize one?

Let’s find out together. Join us March 6th for forty days until Palm Sunday April 14, exploring journeying for justice. And may God’s nourishing love bless you this day and always.

~ from the Lutherans Connect facebook page

The devotional can be accessed either on the Lutherans Connect facebook page or through the blog.

United Church Moderator’s 2019 Lenten Message

How Is It With Your Soul?

 

The Right Rev. Dr. Richard Bott, 43rd Moderator of The United Church of Canada
Credit:
The United Church of Canada

In his Lenten message, Moderator Richard Bott reminds us that this season is a time to think, deeply, about our relationship with God.  He asks us each to consider meeting with another disciple of Jesus, and exploring the question, “How is it with your soul?”

This video message is found on the United Church’s website.

Or if you would rather, read the transcript.

 

 

2019 World Day of Prayer

Join people all over the world on Friday, March 1st for the 2019 worship service and celebration written by the Slovenia World Day of Prayer Committee and adapted for use in Canada by The Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada.

In Clearwater, the service is being hosted by the Clearwater Christian Church and the Clearwater World Day of Prayer Organizing Committee at the Star Lake Ministry Centre at 1:30 pm.  In Barriere, the service will be held at the Church of St Paul at 2:00 pm.  Light refreshments will be served following both services.

Come – Everything Is Ready!

This program was written by women in Slovenia, one of the smallest countries in Europe and a pretty young committee in the WDP movement.

Artist Rezka Arnuš, born in 1953, depicts two topics: the country of Slovenia and the main Biblical story of the worship service.

At the core of the theme, an invitation – Come; and to enable the response – Everything is ready. Come to praise, thank, and proclaim the kingdom of love.

The invitation is grounded in the parable that Jesus told about a great dinner which was attended by the ones called off the streets, as the ones invited excused themselves. The community formed around the table is not enough to fill the house – there is still room. Who are missing from the table in your community? How would you invite and prepare the feast?

Throughout the worship service, we hear the stories of those who are coming to the table of bread, wine, water, and salt. Their stories reflect the political and economic situation from the time Slovenia was a socialist-communist state to today. Their stories are the voices of the refugee and migrant workers, the mothers, the grandmothers, the wives, and the Roma people. While listening to their stories, we ask for forgiveness for being silent in the face of injustice, and we pray that God open our hearts to compassion and understanding. And we leave with a blessing prayer to mutually support one another on the path of freedom, justice, and peace.

May the welcoming God enable us to set the table and fill the communities with hope, love, and joy!

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

New Web Hosting

Today we switched from the hosting service provided by Kamloops Presbytery to one provided by Kamloops United Church. We thank KUC for their generous hospitality in sharing this service with us.

Epiphany Devotions from Lutherans Connect

Living Our Faith

~ from a post on the Lutherans Connect Facebook Page dated January 3, 2019

Many of us would love to spend more time in spiritual practice than we do, but often find it hard to make space for it in the day-to-day challenges of our lives. As the hectic holiday season subsides, a new year can offer us a chance to make changes and deepen our commitment to what matters most.

In the spirit of our seasonal devotional projects, Lutherans Connect invites you to journey with us through January and the first weeks of the season of Epiphany. As always, we will combine scripture with prayer, images, reflection and music.

This Epiphany our theme is Living Our Faith. In collaboration with Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, we will explore ways to renew our spiritual practice while deepening our experience of what it means to be disciples of Jesus.

In our Sunday readings between Epiphany and Lent we hear the stories of the life and ministry of Jesus, the events that flow from his baptism to his transfiguration. How can we be like the first century followers of Jesus responding to these events in our own twenty-first century world? How can the waters of Jesus’ baptism flow through our own lives in building the realm of God?

Working with a single chapter of Scripture over twelve days and accompanied by excerpts from Praying the Catechism by Donald W. Johnson, LC† Living Our Faith will help us find ways to live our faith anew as disciples in a modern world.

Join us every other day from January 6 to January 28 as we Pray, Read, Worship and Love. And may the light of Epiphany guide us in living our faith now and always!

These devotions can be found on the Lutherans Connect Facebook Page or on the Lutherans Connect’s blog.

Daily Advent Devotions From Lutherans Connect

Faith in the Night

December 2nd to 25th

Image by Rafael Edwards

~ from the Lutherans Connect Facebook page

Many of us would love to spend more time in spiritual practice than we do, but often find it hard 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 “Faith in the Night”. Inspired by the annunciation to Mary, we will explore what it means to encounter God in the midst of darkness. Reflecting on the stories of biblical figures, including Jesus, who experience significant moments of their journeys with God at night, we will explore how God works with us in the darker passages of our lives to deepen our faith. In addition, we will hear contemporary stories of those who wait in faith to see hope and change in the midst of turmoil. How can we prepare the manger of our hearts to be renewed in faith by this birth? How are we then more prepared to help make change in the lives of others?

Join us daily from December 2nd to December 25th 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 devotions can be accessed from the Lutherans Connect facebook page or their blog.