June 30, 2006

Events in June

This post will remain on top until the end of June. For regular posts please scroll down.

  • Sunday June 4 -- Pentecost Sunday, communion service, also Conference report to be presented
  • Monday June 5 -- UCW pot-luck at 5:30 pm out at Nym Lake
  • Tuesday June 6 -- Board meeting at 7pm in Boyle Lounge
  • June 12-18 -- Gord will be on a week of holidays
  • Sunday June 18 -- Father's Day BBQ

Starting Monday June 26 the church office will not be open at set hours until September. Heather will be in from time to time to do what tasks need to be done during the summer months. The answering machine and the e-mail will be checked regularly (at least every 2nd day, if not daily) and you can leave a message or call Gord at home.

June 26, 2006

Looking Forward to July 2, 2006 -- 4th After Pentecost

This week we begin using our Summer Bulletins. The same bulletin will be used throughout July and then a different one will be used through August and for Labour Day weekend.

The Scripture readings this week are:
  • From the Hebrew Scriptures: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
  • Psalm 130 (VU p.853)
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
  • From the Gospel: Mark 5:21-43

The Hymns this week are:

  • 333 Love Divine all Love's Excelling
  • 260 God Who Gives to Life Its Goodness
  • 518 As Those of Old Their First Fruits Brought
  • 427 To Show by Touch and Word

The Sermon will be based on the Corinthians reading and is titled What, You Want Me to Give More?

In his Rumours newsletter (To Subscribe: Send a blank e-mail to: rumors-subscribe@joinhands.com), Ralph Milton writes about this passage:

The congregation where I worship is probably typical. We can usually raise money for capital projects, but it's hard to keep up with the operating budget. And it's hardest to get people to give to a generic "world mission."
There have been a series of catastrophes around the world in the last couple of years and some pundits are calling our lack of response "compassion fatigue." It could also be plain, old-fashioned stinginess.
It's hard to say what was getting to the folks in Corinth, but Paul is reminding them that their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem are quite literally starving. They apparently raised some money, but now folks have started holding back. Paul is pleading with them to enter into the pain of the Jerusalem community and to share their abundance more liberally.

Early Thoughts: It seems that Ralph has described a lot of congregations. Certainly in the five years I have been here I have heard repeatedly the line "we need a project, we do really well when we have a project". And it is true. When we wanted to do the roof, or the insulation the money came in. But there is more to the church than having projects. There is that whole mission to be people and witnesses of faith thing.

The "solution" to the problems of compassion fatigue and stinginess may well be to remind people that we witness by our actions, we witness with our chequebooks. Our ongoing project is to live out God's vision for the world as best we can. We do have a project, it just is a harder one to get behind than the new roof or the new windows or the refurbished wall. AS Ralph says, it's hard to keep up with the operating budget. And it's hardest to get people to give to a generic "world mission."

Over and over again the church comes back like Oliver Twist saying Please, can I have some more. And we will keep doing it. But in the end our pleas will not be successful until we tie the request to a sense of what we are doing. We can't guilt people into giving, we aren't a service club that can set membership dues, in the end we have to rely on touching people's hearts and souls.

A wealthy man came to a church office. Chequebook in hand he jokingly said to the pastor, "well here I am to give you my widow's mite. "I don't think you are," the pastor replied. "The widow gave all she had to live on, you will give me some of your excess." Red-faced the man shoved the cheque into the pastor's hand and stormed away. Who knows what he thought about the exchange?

But the story tells a truth. Most of us give from our excess. While we may insist that we give all we can afford we really give all we choose to afford. Paul said to the church in Corinth, we need more. The charities in our lives continue to say, we need more. How will we choose to respond?

June 21, 2006

National Aboriginal Day

Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. It is also National Aboriginal Day, a day when Aboriginal communities across the country will have special events.

For the church it is a day to reflect on our relationships with Aboriginal peoples. This relationship is difficult to say the least. Our Methodist and Presbyterian forebears came with the best of intentions and did some, by modern standards, damaging things. They came with a belief that they had the truth and that all other spiritualities were invalid. They came to bring people to God and later worked to assimilate people into mainline culture. Looking back, we no recognize that these things, while also bringing education and skills to live in new ways as the traditional ways were disappearing (largely due to European attitudes and actions) were acts of violence against a people and their culture. (click below for more thoughts)

20 years ago, in 1986, at a General Council Meeting in Sudbury the Moderator offered words of apology to the First Nations people. Since then we have tried to live out that apology. Over the last 20 years we have tried to come to grips with the reality of residential schools and tried to seek a way of helping to repair the damage done by that system. We have established a Healing Fund, monies set aside not for paying lawsuits but for funding projects to bring healing of wounded souls and spirits.

The United Church as a whole has put much effort into restoring Right Relationships with First nations people. As individuals some of us have done a lot and some still have trouble understanding why we keep apologizing for things that happened before we were born. But part of being the church is talking about our community responsibility. As a community we, unintentionally, were part of injury being done. As a community we will help to repair the damage. Sometimes it is up to the children to pay for the sins of the parents.

Other resources around the United Church and First Nations can be found here.

General Council 39

General Council is the National court of the United Church of Canada. It meets every three years to discuss matters relating to the life and work of the church, to hear reports from General Council Staff, to elect a Moderator, and to set some priorities and goals for the future. 2006 is a meeting year for General Council, and it will be meeting at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay August 13-19. For this meeting there will be around 700 clergy and laypeople from across the country descending on Northwestern Ontario.

If you want to know more about General Council and what will be discussed this year you can find lots of stuff here. (also click below for some summarizing) There is a copy of the draft agenda and you can also download a copy of the workbook that is being sent to all the commissioners. One of the major reports in the workbook is on clergy compensation (salary and allowances) along with a proposal for some fairly major changes in how that happens. See pages 93-120 in the COMMISSIONS section of the workbook (beware that it is a big download). There is also a discussion around authorizing Laypeople to preside at baptism and communion when no member of the Order of Ministry is available (pages 121-136) along with many other issues big and small.

Decisions made at General Council effect how we operate as a congregation. I encourage everyone to check it out and keep informed as the commissioners have their discussions and make their decisions.

June 19, 2006

Looking Ahead to June 25 -- 3rd Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: 1 Samuel 17: 32-49
  • Psalm 9 (VU p.732)
  • From the Letters of the Church: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
  • From the Gospel: Mark 4:35-41

The Hymns this week are:

  • 374 Come and Find the Quiet Centre
  • 288 Great is Thy Faithfulness
  • 686 God of Grace and God of Glory
  • 424 May the God of Hope Go with Us

The Sermon Title is A Suffering Faith.

Actually there are two parts to this week's sermon. First is some introduction. This summer (and much of next fall) it is my intention to preach from the Epistle reading each week. During the summer these readings are from the letters of Paul. So this week we will have a brief introduction to Paul, arguably the most influential Christian writer of the Scriptural period.

Then we will turn to look at this passage. One of the markers of Paul's ministry is that it isn't easy. And from what we have it seems that the church in Corinth was a big headache for Paul. They just seem to be balking at every turn, trying to interpret what he has taught them in ways that are not what he intended.

AS we hear again Paul recounting some of the struggles he has had in ministry I am reminded that this being a follower of Christ thing isn't meant to be a walk in the park, at least not all the time. It takes work, it means putting yourself out there, standing against the "normal", it means subjecting yourself to the slings and arrows of those who would rather keep the same old, same old. Christianity is, or maybe could/should be, a suffering faith.

In the Western world we have forgotten these things. As we have developed a culture where Christianity enjoyed a privileged position we may have lost sight of the fact that the faith is separate from the world (in the world but not of the world as it is commonly stated) and is called to be a counter-cultural voice much of the time. But now the world has changed, irresistibly and irrevocably changed. Now we need to relearn how to be in the world but not of the world, partly because the world seems to have left us behind.

We may not face imprisonment and beatings and torture for the faith. But we are no longer at the center of society either. How do we be church in the world today? How are we called to suffer for our faith?

June 14, 2006

New Link

THe Conference Website has a new feature. Now each Pastoral Charge and/or congregation can have its own little space on the conference website. Riverview's has recently been filled out. Check it out here or click the link on the side bar.

June 07, 2006

BOard Meeting Highlights

At last night's Board Meeting we:
  • Passed a policy regarding funding for Riverview youth wanting to attend Presbytery and Conference youth events.
  • Discussed putting a handrail up on the Chancel steps.
  • Agreed to put signs at both driveways advising people that motorized recreational vehicles (eg. mopeds, dirt bikes, quads, scooters, snowmachines) are not allowed on Riverview property. This is due to safety concerns.
  • Discussed the budget increase passed at the Annual Meeting of the COnference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario.
  • Heard about plans for the Father's Day BBQ.
  • Reviewed the financial statement for the end of May. We are currently about $5 300 behind for the year. (statement is posted on the bulletin board)
  • Were told that the Township will be repairing the hole in the lower parking lot this year. (UPDATE: This was done on June 15)

The next Board Meeting will be on Tuesday September 19 at 7pm in Boyle Lounge. Minutes from last night's meeting will be posted when they are available.

June 05, 2006

Looking Ahead to June 11 -- Trinity Sunday, First after Pentecost

Every year on the first Sunday after Pentecost we mark Trinity Sunday. This is a day to honour and explore one of the central way Christian have to speak about God, that God is 3-yet-1 and also 1-yet-3.

The Scriptures Readings this week are:

  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Isaiah 6:1-8
  • Psalm 29 (VU p. 756)
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: Romans 8:12-17
  • From the Gospel: John 3:1-17

The Hymns we are singing are:

  • 315 Holy, Holy Holy
  • 316 Praise Our Maker
  • 606 In Christ There is no East or West
  • 312 Praise with Joy the World's Creator

The Sermon title is Ways to Know God.

Some things defy definition and description. God is one of those things. God is something that we can only attempt to define or describe. For Christians it gets more complicated as we try to work out how God made known as the Creator/Father/Parent and God made known as Christ/Redeemer/Son and God made known as Spirit/Sustainer/Comforter are still one God. In point of fact, the early church, as it developed the idea of a Trinitarian God, was accused of being polytheistic.

In our modern world we like to have everything defined and nailed down. It gives us certainty to be able to do that. It removes (we hope) doubt and confusion. Like all other ways of talking about God, the Trinity doesn't let us do that easily. God-talk is most useful when it is symbolic and metaphorical. God-talk needs to leave room for the mystery. God-talk needs to force us to remember that God breaks out of our attempts to define (and possibly to tame?) God.

Some have talked about the Trinity in functional terms. That is that the three persons represent different functions or roles God plays in our loves (eg. Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer). Some people talk about the Trinity as different faces or attributes of God. Some people talk about the Trinity as little as possible because they aren't exactly sure what to say about it.

As a dogmatic statement the Trinity really doesn't make sense. A dogmatic statement is one of those things that one must believe in just this way or else. But if we remember that the Trinity is metaphorical, not concrete, if we remember that it is not meant to be the final word about God it becomes easier. The Trinity is an attempt to show how Parent, Child and Spirit relate to each other. It is an attempt to prove the somewhat inane idea that God can be 1-in-3-in-1. In the end the Trinity, like most of Christianity, is about relationship.

This Sunday come and talk about how we know God. Come and talk about this God of relationship. And maybe we will come a little bit closer to understanding this whole 3-yet-1, 1-yet-3 thing. (maybe I will have to bring props: A shamrock. Some oil?)


FAthers Day BBQ

On Father's Day (June 18) Riverview is having a family BBQ. Tickets are $6 per person or $12 for a family. FOr more information or to purchase tickets contact the church office at 597-6004 or Marsha at 597-6585.

June 04, 2006

Devotional Book Available

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

On Sale now for $18.99

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Gord wrote some of the devotionals in this book. There are 3 spare copies available if you wish to purchase one. Talk to Gord for more details (cost is $23 a copy). Or of course you could follow the link above and order your own copy.