UPDATE FROM THE CHAIR
Wow, September already. Let's hope that the fine weather that we have been experiencing continues well into the fall. It sure makes life easier when we can still see friends outdoors.
Council is in the process of preparing our re-opening plan to be submitted to the Grey-Bruce Health Unit. Following the UCC template for re-opening, we have implemented some new measures to ensure the safety of our employees and others who need to have access to the church.
Firstly, we have put up signage to restrict activity to the sanctuary, hall, kitchen and basement. As well, in the entrance there is a sign-in book for contact tracing. We ask that everyone respect the signage as it is for the protection of all.
Secondly, the lock on the entrance door has been re-keyed and keys have been distributed to individuals who have need to access the church outside of regular business hours. Keys will be distributed to other groups/individuals when circumstances change.
I recognize that the church belongs to everyone, but, your Council is mandated to make extraordinary decisions. The decisions we are making are difficult and certainly not easy ones to make. No one said this would be easy!
The worship committee will be meeting soon to prepare for our opening service on Thanksgiving Sunday. I will provide the congregation with further updates after that meeting.
Thank you for your understanding and know we are taking these measure to keep all safe and well.
MESSAGE FROM YOUR MINISTER: SEPTEMBER 24, 2020
I know that these last six months have not been easy for any of us. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone at St. Paul’s for your continued support of the church during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have been truly moved by your energy and devotion and thank you for standing by and walking with….
When my spirits lag, I find that reading scripture as a spiritual discipline helps to keep hope alive. Also the abundant autumn harvest, so visible in the commute on country roads, provides a sense of hope and appreciation for all the farmers in this area.
The anticipation of resuming worship together is also a source of hope. Of course, we’re aware of many restrictions that must be followed when worship resumes. However, instead of focusing on all the things we can’t do, we can change our focus and put our energy into doing something new, while at the same time respecting all the guidelines that are in place.
This week’s Epistle reading is a case in point, reminding us that each time we make a leap of faith, we will find words of blessing to uplift us: “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete; be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2: 1, 2).
Blessings on the journey,
FROM YOUR MINISTER: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020
In this week’s Gospel reading, we read a parable about workers, which challenges us to re-evaluate our concept of fairness. The details of the parable highlight how those who arrived early to work at the vineyard were paid the same daily wage as those who arrived later. As the story goes, those who worked the longest hours were not pleased when they received the same wage as those who worked only one hour. Their complaint sounds legitimate, as they grumbled to the landowner: “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat” (Matthew 20: 12).
Sometimes it seems easier to complain, rather than doing what it takes to make systemic changes. At times, the process of transition seems so laborious that we can’t help idealizing “the good old days” and grumbling about all the changes we don’t want to make. What perhaps we don’t see when we’re enmeshed in our own struggles is that God blesses the journey.
The fact that God’s ways are not our ways is crystal clear in the parable of the workers at the vineyard. It highlights a different kind of generosity, which goes beyond our ideas of what is fair. Parables often make us stop in our tracks and think carefully about new possibilities, perhaps even allowing us a glimpse of remarkable reversals. The parable of the generous landowner is a case in point, challenging us to widen our concept of fairness and envision God’s “preferential option for the poor”.
As long as we’re stuck in a rigid framework, perhaps we’ll respond to this parable, echoing the voices of the workers who laboured all day: “It’s not fair!” However, if we step outside of “business as usual”, maybe we’ll see that this parable exudes the Gospel message of grace. The gift of grace transcends our limited understanding of fairness, for grace is freely given, no holds barred.
Of course, concepts like fair play do matter, but sometimes we need a fresh perspective that allows us to see a new angle of vision, one that puts grace back into the equation. Seeing this parable through a lens of compassion suggests that the latecomers to the vineyard are just as poor as the other workers and they also need a basic wage in order to survive. As the parable ends, Jesus proclaimed to his attentive listeners that “the last will be first and the first will be last” (Matthew 20: 16), words that invite his followers to embrace “newness of life.”
Blessings on the journey,
FROM YOUR MINISTER: SEPTEMBER 10, 2020
Earlier this week, I was sitting outside at 6 a.m., feeling a misty rain falling lightly around me and hoping it would enliven me enough to write my weekly message. The current pandemic has taken a toll on many of us, as we endeavour to stay safe and struggle with the day-to-day complications that ensue. At the same time, our faith challenges us to keep hope alive. This week’s Gospel reading is all about forgiveness. In Eugene Peterson’s translation, we hear how Peter got up the nerve to ask Jesus, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus’ reply shocks us to the core, “Seven! Hardly! Try seventy times seven” (Matthew 18: 21, 22, The Message). In other translations of this Gospel passage, the magic number for forgiveness is 77, but in the translation which I just quoted, it’s a lot more: 70x7=490. Either way, in whatever version of the Bible you read, that’s a lot of forgiveness. Of note is the fact that Matthew was a former tax collector, so unsurprisingly his Gospel highlights many stories about numbers.
Forgiveness sounds like the way to go. But there are certain actions that are hard to forgive. So, why forgive? Well, if we can’t think of any other reason, let’s do it for ourselves, so we’re not dragging around resentment for the rest of our lives. Recent medical research shows that holding onto resentment has a negative effect on our emotional and physical health. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or denying our wounds. It means releasing the resentment and bitterness we might carry around when someone has hurt us. As the hymn goes: “O cleanse the depths within our souls and bid resentment cease; then bound to all in bonds of love, our lives will spread your peace” (Voices United, #364, verse 4). Forgiving allows us to put an end to resentment and acknowledge that we have what it takes to act as instruments of peace and reconciliation. And what a relief it is to let go and let God!
It should come as no surprise that in Restorative Justice circles, Jesus is known as the Great Restorer. As students of Restorative Justice soon discover, healing practices focus on “forgive, but don’t forget.” We all need to remember the past, both joyful and traumatic events, so that healing can occur and we can move on with our lives. As George Santayana wrote in 1905, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
The bottom line is that forgiveness is not always easy, but it is the way forward. Every time we say The Lord’s Prayer, we’re reminded that just as we pray for forgiveness, we are also being called to “forgive those who trespass against us.” It’s a two-way street: if we want to be forgiven, we have to be ready and willing to forgive.
Blessings on the journey,
MESSAGE FROM YOUR MINISTER: 3 September 2020
In this week’s reading from Romans, we’re urged to “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13: 14). Think of the healing that would occur if we clothed ourselves every day with Christ’s love, in the same kind of automatic movement that we use to get dressed every morning! But it’s not always clear how we actually find a way to clothe ourselves with love.
As Paul reminds us, Jesus presented a new commandment, one which fulfilled the LAW. It sounded so simple, just 3 words in fact: Love one another. But maybe some of us are wondering how we’re supposed to practice love in a broken, fractured world. To some extent, we have the luxury of choosing how we respond to any situation that confronts us. Are we going to focus on the gift of God’s grace or on the shape of our pain? At times, during this pandemic, perhaps all we can manage is to acknowledge the challenges in life and pray for strategies of survival to persevere through tough times.
Paul encourages us to dress ourselves in Christ, a vivid image that perhaps was grounded in his own life-changing experience on the Road to Damascus, when he was still known as Saul. As the story goes, a bright light flashed before him and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me and my followers?” For three days, Saul was blind, and when he could see again, he had experienced transformation and was renamed the Apostle Paul, chosen to preach the Good News.
The bottom line is that we never know when God will flash into our lives, directing us to spiritual turning points and transforming how we respond to daily problems and challenges. Here’s a mundane example: we all know how frustrating it is to wait for an advanced green light. When it finally changes, the person at the front of the line seems unaware and by the time they get through the intersection, we have to wait for the next advanced green before we can turn left. It’s tempting to get into road rage mode, but that won’t change anything. Here’s the spiritual change of pace part: just sit there and notice what’s happening. Be an impartial observer. Throw some love into the situation. Who knows, maybe the person who’s delaying everyone has a medical issue that’s slowing them down. Maybe they need our love and understanding, instead of impatient honking. One thing I can guarantee is that putting love back into the equation will change everything. Love really is the answer!
Blessings on the journey,
MESSAGE FROM YOUR MINISTER: AUGUST 27, 2020
This week’s Gospel reading inspires us to think about our own lives and the nature of our spiritual commitments: “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world, but forfeit their life?” Matthew 16: 25, 26. Jesus seems to point his faithful disciples on a pilgrimage, which may not be an easy one to follow. In this mysterious world, we catch a glimpse of a path that, if followed, will show us what really counts. As we grapple with this message, perhaps we realize that it’s in letting go of the material sphere that we find the opportunity to connect with a deeper spiritual base.
Sometimes, I find it helpful to look at corresponding passages in the synoptic gospels (which include Matthew, Mark and Luke), for often they comprise different versions of the same stories. Likewise, when a text present us with challenges, at times it’s helpful to read different translations. For example, in The Message, Eugene Peterson’s translation of a corresponding passage really speaks volumes to me: “Self-sacrifice is the way, may way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” Mark 8: 36, 37
One aspect of the current COVID-19 pandemic is that some of us have had a great deal of time for reflection on our priorities, like where we are and where we want to be. Perhaps there are times when we need to pare down the schedules in our lives, so that we can see clearly where we’re supposed to go and what we’re called to do. I remember my mother, quoting words from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” Easy to say, hard to do!
It’s true that COVID-19 is still here, creating anxiety and urging us to proceed with caution. In the midst of this pandemic, perhaps we’ve found moments of quiet reflection, when we hear that still, small voice: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new right spirit within me… Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.” Psalm 51: 10 May it be so!
Blessings on the journey,
FROM YOUR MINISTER: AUGUST 20, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unforeseen issues, with which many of us are struggling. Even some simple tasks have become complicated and time-consuming. At times, anxiety and isolation eat away at our faith. In times like these, turning to scripture can provide both comfort and encouragement.
This week’s reading from Paul’s Letter to the Romans is a case in point. The following inspirational words still speak volumes to us today: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
When the way forward seems obscured by stumbling blocks, it is a relief to read such words of hope. Yes, this world is confusing and problematic at times, but when we fix our attention on God, we’re reminded that there’s no point trying to be something we’re not. We’re reassured that we all have different gifts, like faith, generosity, diligence, or compassion, and together we can find a way forward.
My mother’s faith never faltered, but one of her favourite sayings was, “No-one said it would be easy.” And it’s not! Life presents us with many tough decisions and often it is a challenge to discern the correct path to follow. At times, we stumble and fall, but then we get back up and keep on walking. In a nutshell, that’s what our faith calls us to do. As a wise person once advised, “Traveller, there is no path; the path is made by walking.”
It seems that we’re constantly reminded that life is a journey. Faith is a journey. We don’t always find the right path at the right time. But that’s when, more than ever, we need to hear messages of encouragement and love. When life seems tainted with sorrow and our path obscured by obstacles, maybe it’s time to listen to Paul’s impassioned and influential Letter to the Romans once again.
Blessings on the journey,
Rev. Cathy I read this week's Gospel message from Matthew 15:21-28, I noted how the Canaanite woman challenged Jesus to listen to her, as she advocated on behalf of her ailing daughter. She reminds us that there are times in life when we need to refuse to take "NO" for an answer. There are times when we need to stand up for others who have no voice. If we need role models, we need look no farther than this unnamed woman who refused to be silenced and would not give up her plea for Jesus to heal her daughter. She insisted on her daughter's right to be cured and Jesus was moved by her courage and faith.
A closer look at Sunday's Gospel reading highlights the mother's determination to find help for her daughter. As the story goes, her plea for mercy is at first ignored. When she persists, we hear how Jesus told her that first he had to take care of his own people, the people of Israel. The woman ignored a rather harsh rebuke and knelt before Jesus, insisting on her daughter's need for healing. Eventually, her faithful persistence moved Jesus to heal her daughter, who was "tortured by a demon", perhaps some form of mental illness, which was not understood in the time of Jesus. We learn from this exchange that it pays to be proactive. That's how we gain self-respect, earn the respect of others, and seek justice for those who have no voice.
As we persevere on our faith journeys, moved by the current of transformation in the Gospel message, we are emboldened to embark on new adventures in faith. Like the people featured in the stories of Jesus, we learn day by day how to weave healing into our lives.
Blessings on the journey,
You may think, without a full time Minister, that our We Care Team is not working - you couldn't be more mistaken! If you, or someone you know, would like to receive a call or a visit - simply contact the church office. The We Care Team is ALIVE AND WELL - and would love to see you.
Call or email - or join us for Worship at 10:30AM on Sunday
303 Jackson St, Walkerton, Ontario Canada N0G 2V0
Monday - Thursday - 9:00 AM - 12:00 noon
Friday - Office is closed
Sunday: Service at 10:30 AM
Click on a file to download.
Council Minutes November 2019 (docx)Download
Council Minutes 24Sep2019 (docx)Download
Council Minutes 25 June 2019 (docx)Download
Cong Mtg 2 June 2019 (docx)Download
Council Minutes 28 May 2019-redacted (docx)Download
Council Minutes 30 April 2019 (docx)Download
Council Minutes 26 March 2019 (docx)Download
Council Minutes 17 Feb 2019 (docx)Download
Council Minutes 3 Feb 2019 (docx)Download
Council Minutes 28Jan2020 (docx)Download
Minutes 3 March 2020 (docx)Download
Council Minutes 4 Aug 2020 (docx)Download
Keeping God at the centre, we will:
Sign up to receive our weekly Service Bulletin - then meet us here!