Thursday, 11 December 2014

Advent 2 - Thursday


O Emmanuel,  prepare our way O LORD to You.  Forgive us when we stumble and set us back on Your path.  Guide us this day so that we continue to help those who need Your aid.  Come Lord Jesus Come.  Amen.

So often we hear of Advent being the time of waiting.    The waiting for the return of Christ.   This is true,  we do  indeed need a time set apart each day to worship God each Advent day and to wait.    But there is one crucial portion of Advent that we often overlook.   That crucial portion is  taking the time each day to set ourselves apart in prayer and scripture and TO LISTEN.    While waiting is difficult,  waiting and listening is something we don't do in our day to day lives.    Why do we need to listen?  And to whom are we waiting and listening?   We are waiting and listening for the Word of God.   

The website "pray as you go"   has a wonderful Advent Retreat for the four weeks of Advent.  It provides a time for us to do some listening.  
 http://pray-as-you-go.org/prayer-resources/advent-retreat-2014/

Presbyterian Record Senior Editor Andrew Faiz has asked us to read and re-read and live the Gospels this Christmas.   He asks us to binge on the Gospels.  Fill ourselves with the Good News.   There are some big issues and big decisions coming up at our National Office that require us to be open to the Word of God.  While reading and thirsting upon the Gospels,  we also must take time to pause and listen to God so that we can go forth and do what God asks of us. 

Before his death,  Metropolitan Anthony of Souzah wrote in his book "Living Prayer" about a devoted Grandmother.  This Grandmother came to Metropolitan Anthony and said, "Metropolitan,  over my lifetime  I have read the Bible,  I have worshipped,  I have prayed.... but I am missing something.  What am I missing?"  Metropolitan Anthony responded, "Do you make time each day to just listen for the Word of God?"    The Grandmother said no she didn't.... and then she asked Metropolitan Anthony how she was to listen.   He suggested sitting in her favourite chair and if she couldn't sit still in her favourite chair to sit and knit but to keep her mind open.     To sit and to listen to the voice of God.  To sit and listen to the Word of God given to us each day.   Oh if we just listen.   Then we can truly say that we have lived this Advent season in the presence of God.  We can truly say that we are ready to live each day in gratitude to God, as we have been given the knowledge of  how we can take the Word of God and share it with our family,  our friends,  our community,  our Church (both local and National).  

This Advent day.... wait.... and sit... and listen for the voice of God.... and then take action.

Stir up our souls O LORD so that we thirst after You each day.    Create in our lives a time to wait and listen for You.    O Come O Come Emmanuel.  Amen.  

Sunday, 7 December 2014

2nd Sunday in Advent

Advent is a time of waiting.   And like most people,  we are impatient.  We don't like to wait.  We want our lives to be like the microwave.... 1 minute and a cup of coffee is done....  our requests and prayers to God are immediately answered.      Yet,  Advent is that time of waiting where we must become like the crock pot....  it takes a long time to cook a meal but the time gives the veggies and meat time to become wonderful and delicious and savoury.   During this Advent we must slow ourselves down and reflect on the Biblical story... from the wonderful reading in Isaiah 9 where it is told that a prophet will prepare the way for the arrival of God's son.   By reflecting on this passage,  we ask ourselves,  how do we prepare our lives this week to live fully within the love of God?  How will we share the love of God with our family and neighbours this week as we await this Advent week for the fullness of time?        

The waiting of Advent will soon be over.   And the fullness of time will come soon. Time's fullness is coming soon.... the fullness of time is met in the birth of the Christ Child. 

O Come O Come Emmanuel.

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.