Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30, 2010

Sunday was the first day of Advent. Our lovely standing Advent Candle Wreath has been placed front and centre of the church. Moira Glerum chairs the Worship Committee, and her family lit the Advent Candle of Hope. Her daughter Thea read lines about having fun in the snow: don’t you think God wants us to enjoy this life? Beyond our trials and travails, there is God’s hope for us that we find pleasure. And we hope that for one another, too.

With that in mind, we began a spiritual practice for the season. It is a blessing on our homes, and a prayer for one another. You will find it in the bulletin insert. Please take the time to read it. 

I trust that you know you are indeed an essential part of St. Paul’s. I pray for you, and the prayer you will find on the insert is a prayer for your home. It centers on your doorway. You in turn can picture someone from the congregation and pray for them.

In the next three weeks of Advent, we’ll offer prayers picturing our living rooms, kitchens, and dining tables. These give us a visual image to offer blessings in our everyday lives. I trust this practice will remind you of God’s presence, and bring you a sense of being connected here in your church.

Holy Hope of this season of anticipation to you,

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Friday, November 26, 2010

November 26, 2010

Recently I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days in Lamont County. Have you driven the roads there? In November you see russet fields and grey hardwoods. Off the road there are churches: Lamont County has 47 – more churches per capita than anywhere else in North America.
 There are Ukrainian Catholic, Roman Catholic, United, Ukrainian Orthodox, Orthodox Church of America, and Russo-Greek Orthodox, as well as a Lutheran building, a Moravian, an Alliance and a Full Gospel.

We drove along for about an hour, and enjoyed the profile of each church against the clear sky and the grey trees. When we reached our destination, the sun began to set and we watched the dusk progress out of the trees and up across the sky. Have you noticed how the dark seems to seep out of the earth in the evening?

In the quiet of the morning, as the darkness was absorbed back into the earth, I saw a dusting of snow on the fields. The words of Psalm 19 came to mind:

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

I know that people in every one of those 47 churches see the wonders of God’s world all around them. And we all share awe. Despite the troubles of the world, natural beauty still moves us – and unites us.

Deep peace to you,
The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 17, 2010

It’s a grey day. There’s a fall of snow in the lane outside my study window; Betty Dunn’s potato patch is getting covered.

Sunday was grey, too. Standing at the front of the church, I could see sky and trees through the clear windows in the balcony. It was as if the grey branches held the sky, and as though the sky was still: no motion of earth or cloud.

Yet the colours in the stained-glass windows simply shone, the warmth of the wood on ceiling and floor glowed, and the flowers beside the pulpit took on a luminous quality. Do you ever feel things more strongly by contrast?

Sometimes when I have a moment to ponder contrast, I am aware of the interplay between the needs of the world and the hope we hold. It’s like this: into the grey of despair and sadness comes the brilliance of hope and renewal. It seems impossible, yet it is true.

I hope that as you ponder these grey days, you feel the colour of faith. I hope that as you feel the cold of late November, you remember the warmth of Easter. I hope that in the quiet of your heart, prayer sings. 
Peace to you,

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10, 2010

Sunday we acknowledged a baptism. We held a wee babe and prayed for his family.

Did you know that churches recognize each other’s baptisms? If, say, your grandchildren are christened in a Catholic church and come here, or perhaps here and then go to a Presbyterian church, we all respect it.

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of being part of the baptism of McKinley Baker Sharek at Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church in the west end. His parents, Toscha Turner and Jonathan Sharek, were married here a few years ago and Rt Rev Bill Hupalo from that church took part in the wedding. So it seemed fair to
move there for this sacrament.

The Ukrainian Catholic ritual is gorgeous, and deeply symbolic. The icons are gold, and a cantor leads responses. McKinley was immersed in warm water in the baptismal font. We blessed him with the oil of gladness on his forehead, breast, back, ears, palms and feet. Isn’t that marvelous? The whole of his being, blessed with gladness.

I trust you know that the whole of your being is warmed, loved and blessed. I hope you cherish all your parts. Look at your palms for instance: aren’t they wonderful? Think of the wear and tear they sustain to keep you going, and to share what you have: wonderful.

Enjoy this week, and take time to acknowledge that you are blessed.

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 3, 2010

Monday was All Saints’ Day. That means that Sunday was Hallowe’en, and that means costumes!

At Sunday morning worship we had two princesses, the Queen, her driver, Gypsy Rose, Harry Potter’s teacher and, yes, a little red devil. We also had a windmill and a tailings’ pond. Humour and politics both showed up! The choir had witches’ hats that they doffed in the middle of my sermon – on cue.

A little levity is a good thing – actually, a lot of levity is a good thing! I believe deeply that God intends us to enjoy the pleasures of life. Laughter, costumes, pretending to be someone else: these are pleasures we can enjoy in the sanctuary of our spiritual home, and in good company.

We honoured our ancestors in faith through prayer, prayed for the saints who love us now, and blessed the generations who will follow us.

We are good company. This is a blessing we inhabit, a calling we live. Good company: your community. And we bless you.  

Please know that I hold you in prayer. Enjoy the levity you find in these lovely November days.

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean