Sunday, 13 July 2014

Floods -- Five Loaves and Two Fish

This month,  Brandon has lived in a flood situation.  Three years ago  we had the 1 in 300 year flood.    That should have been good for 299 years.  Alas,   this year we are in another flood.    This one is bigger and higher than 2011.     So far the dikes around the city are holding up to the flood waters and two crests.   One more crest to come but  the length of time the dikes hold back the flood waters seem to be incredible.  A bit of clay and sand bags and super sandbags... all holding 1183ft of water out of our city.    But other communities have not had the dikes hold.   Some communities are wondering after the flood subsides if they will move the whole community.    The majority of our  farmers have lost this year's  crops.  Many of our First Nations communities are under water.     Some people have been evacuated.  Some people stay with their homes. 

So together we sit and wait for the next crest of flood waters to come.   There is not much to do other than wait.   As we sit and wait, it is interesting listening to the community's  voice of their impression of the floods. Many are ready to help out where needed.    Locally,  the Mayor and Emergency Services have been calling for volunteers to help out in various areas on selected days.   Very few of our Churches have said  they are praying for those who have been evacuated from other areas in Manitoba due to the flood nor said they are praying for farmers who have lost their crops and their income. Provincially Manitoba is in a state of emergency.  Yet we wait.    Nationally in Canada,  our flood situation hasn't  garnered media attention other than the Military was called to help out in Portage la Prairie (thank you to those in the Canadian Forces who were called from 26 Fd Regt RCA here in Brandon to help).   And Mr. Mulcair had a snit fit when he wasn't allowed to use the military helicopters to fly over Portage la Prairie.   Mr. Mulcair,  why not just rent a car and drive out to  south western Manitoba and see the flooding yourself?    The Prime Minister came and listened and looked. And we wait.    While Emergency Disaster groups have been present,  there was not been much of a national campaign to help provide funds for those who have been flooded.  The tally to date for recovery from this flood is already in the billions of dollars.  And we wait.   Quilters who usually respond to any disaster have not come forward wanting to donate quilts.     And we wait.

It is as if everyone is waiting to see what happens before they begin donating monies and services  for recovery.   When the crowds kept following Jesus,  they eventually ran out of food.  Jesus turns to Philip and asks how the disciples will feed everyone.  Philip has no idea.  But a young lad comes up to Andrew and says that he has five loaves and two fish.  Andrew brings the boy and the meal to Jesus.   Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish,  blesses the food and then tells the disciples to share what has been blessed with everyone.     

Today,   Manitobans are waiting  for the five loaves and the two fish.  Keep us in your prayers...and let us know that you are praying for us.  Be the first ones to donate funding for farmers to keep their livelihood.   Be the first ones to donate funding for First Nations communities to rebuild homes and water treatment plants.    Be the first ones to donate quilts for those who have lost everything.    Together we share what we have and know that God blesses us each and every day.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Sunday - prayer for General Assemby

This weekend our  National Church,  Presbyterian Church in Canada,  have been meeting in what is known as General Assembly.  General Assembly is the meeting of selected ministers and elders from Presbyterian Churches across Canada that meet together to prayfully and devotedly decide on the life and business of the Church. 

O LORD,  we ask You to govern the minds of all who are called at this time to make decisions at our General Assembly.  Guide them as they make choices that will affect all of Your Church.   Almighty God,  in Whose home are many mansions,  we pray to You to surround our National Church,  those at General Assembly,  our home Church and our home with the unseen wall of Your protection; that we may be devoted to Your service, and may serve one another in love; until we come at last to that home which You have prepared for us that love You; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  (portions from Frederick Macnutt.  "The Prayer Manual".  Mowbray,  1955.  Prayer #734)

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Satuday

 
This iris plant came from an Elder in Neepawa.   Sharing plants is rather like sharing the Good News... it comes unexpectedly and  is beautiful :)     We planted the iris last summer but had to wait until this Spring to know what colour of flower and type of iris we had planted. 
 
Great God,  we give You thanks today for our family and our Church family.   Guide us this day that we may share Your love and peace with those we meet.   Renew our souls this day when  we get bogged down in too much pain or too much negativity.  Remind us that You are our Light and our Peace.    Be with those who preach and teach tomorrow. Open our ears to Your Good News.  Open our hearts to Your beauty of this world.  Open our arms to do Your work now and forever.  Amen.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Friday - newness of time

Today at Brandon University are the Convocations for the 2014 Graduates of Bachelor of Music,  Science,  and Education.   As part of the Convocation,  Brandon University holds a PowWow the night before.  Then the day of  Convocation,  a minister of Word and Sacrament is asked to lead a Prayer of Invocation.   What must the students think to hear a prayer just for them as they begin their new lives and new careers?    Convocation is a time of newness and excitement.  Years of education have been achieved.  The new Grads  begin a time of seeking employment and careers.    The newness of time.      How amazing that Brandon University asks a Minister of Word and Sacrament to be part of this newness of time. 

            Read 1 Timothy 5: 1-8

Paul instructs Timothy how the Christian community must care of the widows, elderly, and slaves.   What one word comes to your mind when you read this passage?  Nurture?  Teachings?  Compassion?

How does this passage of scripture reflect upon the Christian community to the newness of time.   If Churches could have a "convocation",  what would our newness of time be?  Would we have compassion and care for the widows,  the elders, and those who are imprisoned by thought or deed? 
Great God,  on this day may we reflect upon it as a newness of time.  May Your peace which surpasses all understanding keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of You... and of Jesus Christ Your only Son... and Your Comforter the Holy Spirit.  May we rest and abide with You now and forever more.  Amen.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Wednesday - stand firm in the faith


Father, as I sit here, You and Your word are my desire. Clear my mind and heart of all distractions and speak to me through Your Word.    Amen.
            Read 1 Timothy 4: 6-16
Ah.  This portion of scripture should be written in every teenagers school binder.  Timothy was a very young teacher.  Paul is saying that people should not look down upon Timothy because he is young.  Stand firm in the faith.  Persevere in the faith.  Watch your life and what you believe closely.   All this knowing that we put our hope in the living God.
Recently  I was at a first meeting of a non-profit organization.  This people were enthusiastic about beginning this non-profit organization and wanted to expand their membership.  Every time  I mentioned a person's name the group would say, "oh they are too old"  or "that person is too young".  They want a Board who is just like them in age and thought.  This is the surest way to kill off a non-profit organization.     Each board and membership and Church needs a variety of ages not only for longetivity but also for support and enthusiasm!
Today,  how will you help someone stand firm in their faith...no matter what their age.
This day O Lord,  I pray for all the young people in the Church.  May I help them to stand firm in their faith.  May I help them to persevere in their faith.  May I help them know that our hope is in the living God.  Amen. 

Monday, 26 May 2014

Monday - pastoral care


Father, I continue to place before you not only those I associate closely with, but also the culture, events, and the distant people who surround me as I walk through life. May your purposes be extended into the culture I live.

            Read 1 Timothy 4: 1-5

And some people will abandon the faith.  This happens.  People make choices.  But we still need to keep these people in our prayers and in our love as after all,  everything God created is good and through God’s Word and our prayers everything is made holy.

One of the duties and responsibilities of an Elder is to provide pastoral care to people in the congregation.    Yet  over the years,  pastoral care has slowly disappeared from our congregations… and this is a crying shame.   If the Church can not care for the people in their own Church, then how can the Church care of the people of the world?   Time and time again we hear of  Elders calling up congregational members and saying, “I haven’t seen you in Church for six months”.   And the congregational member responds, “Oh,  I left your Church and am now at another Church where they care about me”.   Goodness.

In order to bring the Good News into our congregations and into our community and into our world,  we must provide pastoral care for all peoples.  Christ instructed the disciples  (and Elders and us) to go out into the world and share the Good news. ... to share the love of God... Pastoral care is the heart beat of the Good News.

Open my heart and mind to the things you desire me to pray as I think about the world. There are so many physical, political, and social needs, but most of all I pray for your Gospel to spread to every tribe, tongue and nation.   Amen   (from www.examen.me)

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Sunday - renewing ourselves through prayer

Flora Slosson Wuellner in her book, "Prayer, Stress, and our Inner Wounds"  says that often those who are called to minister to all people  -- whether we are  Ministers of Word and Sacrament or Elders or those who teach Bible Study or a Youth Group-- are frequently tired and drained and frustrated people.    This is called Leadership fatigue.  And leadership fatigue is created within ourselves when we believe that we must do everything... we believe that it is all up to us.  This, in turn,  creates  super-responsibility.   We come to believe that the Kingdom of God will only continue because of our righteous efficiency,  our ability to love and heal.

We all know that the Kingdom of God is not totally built upon our own selves,  we know that we share this love of God and this responsibility with others.  Yet.   Yet  while we realize that we can delegate,  and we do delegate yet more and more of our life seems to become looking after other's problems.   Then we begin to harbour our super-responsibilities inwardly.     This is the point where we must stop and sit down and pray.    This is the point where we have become generators rather than transmitters of the Divine.   Wuellner says that those who take on super-responsibility and inwardly never delegate and never take time to pray because we are so busy,  overlook Jesus' challenge to be the branches... instead we try to be the vine... John 15: 4- 5.       We become generators instead of transmitters of the love of God.

Three things will help with those who take on super-responsibility.    First is  a time of prayer.  When one is so overloaded with work and burdens and committees and  the work of the Church,  often making time for prayer is hard.    Prayer does take time.  But prayer is our lifeline to God.  Prayer is the evening breeze or the morning sun.  Prayer is what sustains and nurtures us.    The more we pray,  the less exhausting it will be and the more we find ourselves daily or hourly or every minute turning to God.

Second is letting others serve us and minister to us.   At the Last Supper,  Peter had a problem when Jesus wanted to wash his feet until Jesus said that Jesus must wash Peter's feet or Peter will have no part of the Kingdom of God.  Then Peter said for Jesus to wash every part of him.   (John 13).    While we serve and minister to others and are an example of the love of Christ,  we must also let others serve and minister to us!    Ask another person to pray for you and be specific of your needs!    Ask another person to go for a walk.   Book two hours into your date book and go sit in a park with your Bible and just read (especially the Psalms!).    Be  refreshed and renewed in God's love.

Third is  to ask for forgiveness and then tell God  three things that you were thankful for today.   Forgiveness is not only a cleansing of our souls but also a cleansing of our lives.  Too often in ministry we equate our work with who we are.  We look at how many people attend worship.. and then subtly compare our numbers to other Churches. We look at how many committees we are on compared to other people.  If our church attendance numbers go down,  we feel diminished.   When we end up with so many committee meetings,  we suddenly realize that we are overburdened but there is seemingly no way out of the burden.   Stop.  Sit.  Pray prayers of forgiveness and thanksgiving.

As we grow in God in prayer,  we shall become more like Christ.   As we grow in God through inner reflection,  we shall love and our burdens will be lifted.   As we grow in God through reading of God's Word,  we shall become compassionate.    As we grow in the love of God,  we are made whole.
Is it really as simple as this?  Yup.      Today and this week,   make time for prayers, especially those of forgiveness and thanksgiving... make time for reading God's Holy Word... make time for asking one person to pray for you...

 Prayer:   Great God,  we come before You today knowing that it is through Your love that our hearts are restored,  our energies make new,  and our lives are simple and good.    Divine Healer,  send down upon us today Your Holy Spirit so that Your healing power may flow through our whole body and we are made whole.   Almighty God,  may the power of this new life flow into our actions and our relationships with others this day.    God of all reconciliation,  we lay before You now those that we have hurt.....  those who have hurt us........  and those deeds we have forgotten to do.......  Through Your love we know that we are forgiven and made whole in Your love and peace.    Wash us O LORD in Your love so that we are made clean inwardly and outwardly.   Holy God,  we bring before You know  three things for which we are thankful.......... Thank You Lord Jesus Christ.      Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning,  is now and ever shall be,  world with out end.  Amen.