Archive for June 2010

Journal #16

June 16, 2010

March 21, 2010: For the first time in my eight years of preparing and leading worship services. I had the opportunity to write a first-person sermon and sing a song that I had desired to sing since 1986. These two amazing events were not enough; God granted me the opportunity to witness the birth of “butterflies”. In the afternoon, at our last confirmation class, the Spirit of God was definitely guiding our actions and words. On March 28th, Palm Sunday, these four young individuals will confess their belief in God and join the church, by their own decisions.

I was very nervous at first with all the preparations for this first-person sermon. Thanks to Gary, 250 kilometers away from me, was still present with me on this curve of the road of learning. He guided me along the way of the “production”. At the end of the day, it felt that this day was meant to be, before the world was created. Do you know that feeling? It felt so RIGHT! If however, we do not take the initiatives to obey God’s guidance, this would not have been achieved. We need to go back to Thursday the 18th of March, when the puzzle pieces began to fall into their perfect places. God’s grace made it possible that the music director and I met by coincidence and she asked me if I wanted to sing a song at a Sunday Service soon. I told her that this coming Sunday would be wonderful if only I could download this song, which is perfect for the sermon, and I wanted to sing it “forever”. I was hesitant at first, I think because I knew deep down inside my heart that it would happen if I just open up my mouth and share this with her. My feelings were right. My hesitance was her readiness to “jump” on her computer and find the song, titled, “Broken and Spilled Out” by Steve Green on MusicNotes.com. She found the song and played a few notes to get the correct “key” for my voice and printed it. Now what? I had to sing this on Sunday – There were no more excuses.

Now excitement and nerves were mixed and this desire to sing, to “play” the part of the woman in Bethany was becoming a reality. How is this possible?

I will not bore you with running from one church to the other to practice with both music directors on Thursday evening. All I can say however was that it was WORTH IT!

Sunday morning arrived, the “Scent of Grace”, the title of my reflection, was ready to spread. I prayed to God to get the heavenly anointing and for this “scent” to be a true transformation to my senses first and then to all who will be at the service. God gave me the courage; with nerves rattling but filled with inner peace, I felt that I am floating on a stormy sea in the eye of the storm.

The service went well. I did feel exhausted by the time I finished the second service, but it was rejuvenating at the same time. The very last words of the “Woman of Bethany” were: “Allow the scent of grace, which God has poured out on you to be the scent that moves the senses of people around you; filling their memories with the good and the eternal love of God. Allow your life to be transparent, so that Jesus shines through you and God’s sweet grace fills the air wherever you go, in whatever you do and whatever you say… Amen”. The special visit of the woman of Bethany was a visit from God to me and what others shared with me after service, all were blessed by the message – Thanks be to God.

After the worship service we gathered for our confirmation class, where two boys and two girls, the minister and I came together for our last class. The third leader could not join us, which I believe was God led. We were not sure how the meeting would go, but through a quick assessment and profound discernment the first half of the class we went around the table and talked about our experiences of being at this confirmation class and the second half we split up into two groups of boys and girls. This is where for the first time I saw a young individual struggle between what a heart wants to do and the mind is putting up barriers.

This ordinary class became a holy experience indeed… How do you feel when you see the birth of a butterfly?  I can still see the pains of breaking out of the cocoon and emerging into a beautiful butterfly ready to spread the colorful wings and fly.

I believe, this day, March 21, 2010, will always be a day where I learnt, new, beautiful beginnings are possible with God in our lives. No matter how BIG or small the communities, which we are serving. If we are ready to get into action, by changing our lives first by submitting to the work that is laid before us – Not be afraid of giving time. If the music director did not “jump” to get the music online and opened up the doors for me to go through – it would have never been the same picture that this day ended up being canvased as…

How often do doors open up and we do not want to go through, because we are afraid of the unknown, or not ready to get out of our comfort zones. Ordinary days cannot become Extraordinary if we keep on making excuses. We cannot compare the eternal difference we make when we do give our best to God. What alabaster jar needs to be broken in your life, so that God can allow the “Scent of Grace” spread to all who are around and most of all, allow Jesus to shine through.

Sometimes what we want to do and what we are ready to do are two separate polarities. Fear can keep these realities apart but God says, “Trust me, jump on the band wagon and I will fulfill your desires, nourish your spirit and always be with you on this journey, if you accept my presence”. Won’t you trust this Eternal God of Love?

Journal #15

June 16, 2010

February 16, 2010: Shrove Tuesday and Gary’s birthday, what a crazy day… Being apart from my husband, friend and confidant on his birthday, I somehow felt inadequate – Mixed feelings all around. Much of my day went by thinking how can I plan a Shrove Tuesday Supper with the youth group in Seeley’s Bay on this day? There was no way to escape it as it was a Tuesday and the next day was the ecumenical Ash Wednesday Service in Portland. Yes, I wish we could drop all our commitments at the drop of a dime whenever we want to, but life does not function like that, especially the life of a minister. I guess this is where sacrificial living walks in.

I know he was home in Montreal and I wish he was near, especially when I know he loves pancakes and maple syrup too. For some reason he could not get here, but we had celebrated his birthday the week before. I was also going back to Montreal in a few days. I cannot say that I totally ignored his special day. But being apart on a special day always makes you feel a bit “different”. A part of me wanted to go to Montreal to be with him, another part of me wanted to stay here and see “God at Work” through the Youth Activities and other events. Moreover, the Ecumenical Ash Wednesday service was something I had never experienced, let alone a Shrove Tuesday Supper.

I made it through the day and went to Seeley’s Bay for Shrove Tuesday Supper. The youth were serving, and they were so great at their job. The supper was only $5.00 per person. $4.00 went to Haiti’s relief fund (a total of $300) and $1.00 was given to the Youth to decide how to use that for a ministry of their choice.

After the supper was done, we had a short Ash Wednesday Service where the Spirit of God was definitely present, at work and everyone was aware, from the youngest youth member to the mature congregant. I am glad, I was part of it.

The minister who led the service took all of the little heart shaped papers which we were given in the beginning of the service and asked us to put it in a play dough and he made that play dough into a nest with branches. The symbolism was giving our hearts to God and embarking on a new journey in the beginning of Lent. This was something that we all needed to do, young and old, minister and congregant. Many tears were flowing as the hearts were being given to God and many were anointed with the ashes mixed with olive oil. This made us all aware what we need to take time to be “holy”.

There is power in symbols and rituals when we do them attentively and willingly. Being aware is very important. The trap of having rituals become something regular takes away the sacred experiences that we need to have to rejuvenate our hearts.

The next morning, The Ecumenical Ash Wednesday service was another heavenly experience. Being brought up in a family where my grandmother taught me that no other denomination is correct except ours (Protestantism), I find myself dumbfounded with other denominations’ rituals and ways of worship. In its own way, I find each denomination has its beauty and it reaches to those who choose their way of worship when it comes to a point in an individual’s life. Our neighbouring Anglican church and us gathered in the Portland church’s sanctuary and enjoyed a beautiful service where God’s presence was evident.

Why do these two days stand out for me to think back and write? Because I learnt through it all, even though we may not be happy with every single thing that we have to do on our schedules, however, if we make God our priority, and keep our word – carry through our commitments, we are blessed more than words can say.

Yes, I was away from Gary for his birthday, but God was with him and I. With the youth who experienced a sacred moment, they will not forget that day – it is engraved in their hearts. The Ecumenical Ash Wednesday Service was truly a moment where God’s banquet was at hand to all the people. Where the blessings of so many people have been if we had not gone ahead with our plans, just because I wanted to be with my husband? Yes, family is first when time and space permits, however being 250 kilometers away from home it was impossible to be at both places. Therefore, I chose God and Gary supported that decision 100%.

Sometimes choosing what we do not want to do is the price we pay for discipleship – It is so worth it. Knowing that we can float in the buoyancy of the presence of God makes it all worth to JUST TRUST. Amen.