Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 1, 2016


It was the 60th anniversary of the sanctuary in November. Joan took the cover picture for the bulletin from the church balcony. Warren Mack played a Bach piece on the organ, the choir sang “Family of Faith”, we welcomed fifteen new members, and when Jill sang the first line of the duet, Jennifer responded with the second line from up high in the balcony, from the perspective you have in Joan’s picture.

I want to remind you that you are a valuable part of this congregation. This is your spiritual home and we cherish you.

Christmas music is all around us now. The carols tell the Christmas stories. The magi observed a star at its rising, and it shone so brightly they were able to follow it. That has inspired us: You will notice a white tree on the bulletin cover. During Advent people will put stars on that tree as we sing carols. The silver stars will shine.

The heritage of faith shines in our lives:
God has always loved us. God will love us, always.

I hope the brilliance of Christmas decorations and music remind you of the star that guided the wise ones so long ago, and reassure you that the warmth of God’s light shines on your path too.

Many blessings to you,


The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Thursday, October 20, 2016

October 5, 2016

The Flower Committee has a large pot of yellow and golden chrysanthemums at the front of your church. They seem to glow. When the sun shines over the choir loft and down on the flowers,
they are radiant.

You are rather like that, I think: you are made in the image of God, so you shine with God’s presence. When you are touched by
joy, you are radiant.

Here is a prayer for you:

Light within all light
Soul within all souls
Joy within all joys
Peace surrounding all peace:

At the breaking of dawn we watch for you
At the breaking of bread we pray with you
At the breaking of our hearts we call on you
At the return of joy we say thanks.

Bless our homes and our loves ones in this Thanksgiving time.
Bless our world where craven at this needy time.
Bless the harvest and the eating.
Bless the Love at table seating. Amen.

Sunday, the yellow and golden mums will be surrounded with pumpkins and maple leaves. I will include you in my silent Thanksgiving prayers.

In the name of Jesus, Love incarnate, many blessings to you.

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April 12, 2016

This Sunday the bulletin featured the St. Paul stained glass window, which is right at the front of our sanctuary, and I thought you might like a copy. You will see inside, on the order of service, that we sang “Open My Eyes that I May See”, one of our beloved heritage hymns.

Paul was blinded by the Light at his conversion. When one of the disciples, Ananias, laid hands on him, his sight was restored. Then he saw the world God loves in a different way, and he began to follow the Way of Jesus. He became the biggest missionary the world has ever known.

Paul went into many places where Christ’s love, peace and relationship-building were new. Our St. Paul’s United Church was built in a new neighbourhood, and continues to discern how the Word and the Way of Christ can bring love, peace and relationship-building in new ways.

You are part of this is hopeful and inspiring holy community of faith. Thank you for the ways you have shared God’s love over the years. I trust that love sustains you now.

This is your church and we think of you with warmth and love.

Many blessings to you,

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February 18, 2016

Valentine's Day was Sunday. With this letter you will find a bookmark we created for the occasion. The Sunday morning Welcomers gave one to every person, young old and in-between, so they that every time they opened the book they're reading, they will remember that God loves them and their church loves them.

I want you to know that you are loved, too. You are an important part of our congregation, and you are deeply valued.

When I was growing up in the church I learned that God is love. You may remember the sticker from the 1970s that teenagers like me stuck on clipboards, bookcovers, and purses. It was a psychedelic image in purple and blue and pink, with the words live and love entwined. Our lives are woven with love, through the good times, the rough times, and the ordinary times.

Live love: that is the ethic by which we live.

God is love: that is the assurance by which we live and die and live again - surrounded by, encountering, sharing, and carried by love.

Many blessings of love to your holy life,

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Friday, January 15, 2016

January 15, 2016

Perhaps you are as aware as I am these days of the play of light and dark. On cloudy days when the sun is covered as well as distant, I turn on a lamp in my study. Daily, there is increasing light on my late afternoon drives. My amaryllis seems to glow orange at suppertime against the dusk in the dining room window.

The cover picture on the bulletin I am enclosing is the pulpit banner for worship in these brightening weeks. The play of silver and navy blue is lovely, and the velvet texture is warm. This is the image in your church every Sunday morning in January.

Perhaps like me, you find darkness and light not so much opposites as complementary. Some say that darkness represents bad things. Often in our scripture, though, darkness is the time of love and hope: out of the darkness covering the earth God says “let there be light”; the shepherds kept watch over their flocks by night and were sent to the Christ Child; by sunup on Easter morning the resurrection had occurred: as they say on the east coast, “there he was, gone”. Loving, hopeful, creative, transformative things happen under cover of darkness.

We went to Yellowknife after Christmas. Our children were born there. In the north the beauty of the night sky is transformed very slowly by the rising sun, pink and orange herself. Later the daylight is absorbed by twilight and northern lights playing against the deepening darkness.

My hope for you is that in the play of light and dark this winter you are finding rest, beauty, and joy. My hope is that in the mix of our daily lives - meals, conversations, anxieties, realizations, love – that the good life God has given you feels to be part of a long fulfillment of God’s promises. May you find peace in the betwixt-and-between nature of our holy lives.

Blessings to you.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 16, 2015

Easter has come – and stayed. We celebrate the Easter season till mid June at church, and every Sunday as an Easter people. Did you know every Sunday is a little Easter? Christianity is a faith of resurrection, hope and love.

This upcoming season is one of study for me. I have been awarded a grant to examine many of the ways we in the United Church of Canada speak of God. I am also part of a writing team for an upcoming textbook: my chapter is about how God has been understood in different periods of United Church history. I will be reading, writing, and interviewing colleagues, historians and theologians.

The way we speak of God reflects not only what we think about God, but also what we expect God thinks of us. It is the crucible for our understandings of human relationships, our place in the world, and our treatment of the earth. It is the basis of our faithful response to life.

That may sound heavy! Or it may sound intriguing. In any case, I wanted you to know why I am away from St. Paul’s for a while. I will be back August 25, looking forward to the next season of life and faith together with you.

Meantime, may you find blessing in the warmth of summer.
May you feel blessing in the family and friends who love you.
May you know blessing in the prayers that hold you in church, and the Spirit of God in your everyday life.

Blessings to you,


The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Friday, January 9, 2015

January 9, 2015


Bright sunny days are part of the pleasure of living in Edmonton. Days are short, but they are breathtakingly clear.

Every day I cross the Groat Bridge. The sky is bright above, the river is icy white below, and between them lies the dark silence of the riverbank.

Life is like that. On the surface is the bright and shining face in which I see your character. Underneath is the flow of stories you may choose to tell or to keep to yourself. In between is your daily life: breathing in and out, walking to the mailbox, talking with a friend by phone, preparing toast and tea.

In Christ God became human like you and me. He knew the surface appearances of people, the deep human need, and the daily path.

May you find blessing in the clarity of the sunlight.
May you feel blessing in the innermost currents of your personal life.
May you know blessing in the everyday tasks of our ordinary living.

Knowing that God is with us in these winter days,
Blessings to you.

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean