Friday, October 29, 2010

October 29, 2010

Sunday we enjoyed the third Literary Evening. These events are an opportunity for authors in our congregation to read from their published works. Musicians play between presentations, and tea and sweets are served. Literary Evenings provide a way to get to know one another, and to learn something! It was a wonderful night.

Marion Brooker was the first reader. She is working on a new book, about her uncle James Henderson Fargey. She showed us the Bible in which his mother inscribed on July 23, 1915: "Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth". He took it with him into the trenches in World War One. From there Jim wrote to his mother, “I try to read a passage every night when possible.”

What a treasure.

I look forward to holding Marion’s new book, reading the words and looking at the pictures. Family stories are the crucible in which we live. I hope the letters, photographs and Bibles in your home tell you stories of faith and courage.

We live and move and have our being in God’s love. This is our faith; this is our courage. This is the hand that holds the crucible in which we live. This is the love that takes us through, and beyond, those family stories into the Presence which cherishes us no matter what.

Blessings to you,
The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 21, 2010

I hope this note finds you in good spirits.

This week I had the privilege of speaking at the Queen’s School of Religion Annual Theology Conference. It is a glorious season to be invited to Ontario: the maples were red and the oaks golden.

The alumni asked me to lecture about preaching. I talked about preaching what we believe, and in particular I addressed two traditional doctrines, sin and regeneration. Sin: truly, everything is not well in our world, our lives, our souls. There is a cure for sin: regeneration. (Isn’t that a marvelous word? Literally it means rebirth.) We are renewed through the Holy Spirit; sin is not the last word.

This may seem a little dry. It’s important, though, isn’t it, to be honest and recognize that all is not well. But it’s critical to acknowledge that God’s intention for us is peace, and that God restores us. We are not left to wallow in the distress of our lives or the unfairness of our world.

Sometimes the church gets a reputation for hammering on people about sin. It’s a terrible thing when people feel diminished, put down or pushed aside. I’d like to see us be able to acknowledge sin without that awful judgment that isolates us from one another and God. After all, we are one another’s keeper, not one another’s jailer!

The lecture was well received. It led to deep conversations about how we make our way in the world, leaving it a more grace-filled place, as individuals and as communities of faith.

You make this world is a better place. Thanks for being you.

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

October 12, 2010

It is a beautiful day. The sky seems to go on forever in blue, and the river is simply sparkling with autumn colors. I drove across the Groat Bridge this morning as I do every time I come to St. Paul's, and as always, I drew a breath looking at the trees along the riverbank.

Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, but the gratitude of our hearts continues. Even though our culture has moved past thanksgiving into Halloween or whatever the next thing seems to be, you and I can still lean into the spiritual practice of gratitude. Even through grief, we are grateful for the one we have lost. Even in wonder, we are reminded that we are but part of God's world. Even in a single chair in a solitary window, each of us is a significant part of God's love.

Enjoy this beautiful day. Draw a breath at the view you have; marvel at the changing light; bless the people going by. We have so much to hold in thanks and prayer.

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Prayer from Table or Window

Here, in this moment,
  there areyellow leaves still on the cottonwoods
  scarlet berries on the mountain ash
  green grasses along the roadways.

Soon, in another moment,
  there wll be blue-green waves on the river
  grey branches holding the sky
  cobalt skies gathering dark.

Once, in an earlier moment,
  there were seeds sprouting
  grains bursting
  fruit straining
     against summer heat.

Here, in this moment,
  we hold it all in our minds:
     season & time, then & now.
Here in this moment,
  we hold it all in our hearts:
      friends & family, departed & among, far & near.
Here in this moment,
  we hold it all in our bodies:
     courage & strength, forgiveness & compassion, tears & laughter,
           memory & hope.
Here in this moment,
  we hold it all together in our spirits:

We bring gratitude, Holy Spirit, for the pleasure of these sights.
We bring hope, Christ who is our Light, for the world.
We bring thanks, Creator and Provider, for all who tend the earth.

Here, in this moment, we pray with awe. Amen.

                                                                        Catherine Faith MacLean  14/10/10