Congregation Update July 31

Good morning Trinity folk!  Here’s a few bits of news and updates for you. (sent by email, posted here and on FB)

  1. Worship leader schedule: Aug 2, Lorraine; Aug 9, 16, 23 Rev Paula; Aug 30 Anjanee
  2. The safety plan is underway, and we are using applicable bits from the safety plans which other congregations have put in place. With many of these plans, it can take a while to figure out what works and what doesn’t, so the hope is that by using safety plans already tested in other congregations that we may be up and running sooner than if we were starting from scratch.  The information we are using to build the safety plan can be found on the congregation’s website, here:  http://crestonunitedchurch.ca/2020/07/covid-and-safety-plan/   Once complete, the plan will go to council for approval, and then will be posted publicly, shared electronically and implemented by council.
  3. Have you been staying in touch? There are lots of interesting links, reflections and stories on the congregation’s facebook and website pages.  Please ‘like’ or ‘follow’ to keep yourselves up to date, and share the information with those whom you know are not online.  Each week reflections and worship resources are shared by email, but there is lots more online for you too.
  4. Here’s a few highlights from our website:
    1. Lessons from the Garden: Grow with the flow https://revsponderings.wordpress.com/2020/07/27/lessons-from-the-garden-grow-with-the-flow/
    2. Lessons from the Garden: perspective  http://crestonunitedchurch.ca/2020/07/lessons-from-the-garden-perspective/
    3. A repost of Extra Grace Required http://crestonunitedchurch.ca/2020/07/extra-grace-required-repost/
    4. The refugee committee is asking for donations to support a new family expected soon, their letter is here: http://crestonunitedchurch.ca/2020/07/creston-refugee-committee-donations-needed/
    5. I’ve had a couple of people ask me about what we need to do to grow the congregation, and my response is always the same: focus on ministry and the money and people will follow. Here’s a  story from 2015 of an aging downtown Winnipeg congregation which is completely revitalized:  https://revsponderings.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/congregational-transformation/
  5. Wouldn’t it be lovely to get together in person again? Once our safety plan is complete, I’m aiming for weekly in person and live streamed worship services.  We will be limited in how many people can attend and I would like to focus on those who do not have internet access and those who may have difficulty even coming to the church (we could offer COVID compliant rides perhaps?)  If you would like to be a driver; if you have ideas or suggestions for worship either in person or online; or if you have any other comments or feedback, please let me know.  Plans are well underway for an in person communion service the first Sunday in September …. Mark your calendars!
  6. Check out the region’s list of online worship resources: https://pacificmountain.ca/creative-ways-to-worship-at-a-distance/
  7. If you know of other online worship services you are enjoying, send me the links and I can put them on the congregation’s website. The reflections from the lay leaders and myself are regularly posted on the website, and others can be included as well when I receive the text of the reflections or online links.
  8. Thrift Store Update “The thrift store is hopping.  We have a maximum of 14 shoppers at a time and it is not unusual to see a lineup outside the store.  I am so happy to report that by the end of the day today (July 31) we will have obliterated our record for our highest sales ever in a month.  Prior to this month our best month of sales was $4308.  We will exceed $10,000 in sales for July.  That is not a typo.  Hopefully this will become our new normal.” – Karen

 

Online Streaming Across the Pacific Mountain Regional Council

We are also happy to share other sources of online worship from across the Pacific Mountain Regional Council. Below are links to churches and ministries that have self-submitted their online streaming presence for you to check out. If any of the links do not work, please contact the Community of Faith directly (not the PMRC Office or staff).

•  10:00 am   Nelson United Church, Nelson BC   live stream Sunday Home Worship

ABBEY CHURCH, Church Plant, Victoria BC

ALBERNI VALLEY UNITED CHURCH, Port Alberni

CANADIAN MEMORIAL UNITED CHURCH, Vancouver BC

CENTRAL VANCOUVER ISLAND, Mid-Island Cluster BC

COMO LAKE UNITED CHURCH, Coquitlam BC

CRANBROOK UNITED CHURCH, Cranbrook BC

CROSSROADS UNITED CHURCH, Delta BC

FIRSTMETROPOLITAN UNITED CHURCH, Victoria BC

GOLDEN EARS UNITED CHURCH, Maple Ridge BC

INLET UNITED CHURCH, Coquitlam BC

JUBILEE UNITED CHURCH, Burnaby BC

KAMLOOPS UNITED CHURCH, Kamloops BC

KNOX UNITED CHURCH, Vancouver BC

NARAMATA CENTRE, Naramata, BC

OAK BAY UNITED CHURCH, Victoria BC

  1. GEORGE’S UNITED CHURCH, Courtenay

SYLVAN UNITED CHURCH, Mill Bay BC

TRINITY UNITED CHURCH, Prince George BC

TRINITY UNITED CHURCH, Vernon BC

UNITED CHURCHES OF LANGLEY, Langley BC

WEST VANCOUVER UNITED CHURCH, West Vancouver BC

Online Creative Ways of Connection, Across the Pacific Mountain Regional Council

Worship with Moderator, Rev Richard Bott

 

COVID and Safety Plan

These links were previously posted, but seem to have disappeared during the migration of this site from one host to another, so here they are again.

All employers in the province of BC are required to have a safety plan in place before staff or volunteers can enter or work in the building.  Anjanee, Joan and I (and possibly Denis) are working together to create the congregations reopening safety plan.  This is a very important first step towards allowing staff and volunteers back into the church for all sorts of gatherings.  Together, we form a team representing both worship and executive to complete the safety plan.  Worksafe BC provides a handy template to use, and the regional and national church offices have provided a wealth of other information which goes above and beyond the Worksafe BC requirements.

Given that the people in many United Church congregations are among the most vulnerable to COVID infections, these requirements help us all to honour our duty of care to one another, and to ensure that above all else, we do no unintentional harm.

When the plan is complete, it will go to Council for approval and will be posted publicly at the church as well as on the congregations facebook and website pages.  (If you have not already done so, please LIKE or FOLLOW the facebook page and website for more updates and inspirational messages. ) Copies of the completed safety plan will be distributed by email and available in paper form at the church as well.

The Centre for Disease Control has provided these guidelines for faith communitiesGuidance_Faith_Based_JULY_17 (1)
An American faith based group has also put together a document of guidelines which is compatible with BC Health Authority directives, Resuming Care-filled Worship and Sacramental Life (1)

Extra Grace Required – repost

https://wp.me/p3tHbn-g2

As the pandemic and resulting social isolation takes hold, there can be behavioural and emotional impacts as well.  To help us be kind to one another, this post from 2016 is being republished.

I often think of faith communities as tapestries: every thread, and every colour representing a person or significant event in the life of the community.  Tug gently on any one thread, and the ripple effect is felt throughout the entire tapestry.

Humans come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and personalities. Within the crucible of community, each of us bring our wounds and insecurities, as well as our strengths and our God given gifts.  Within the context of a faith community, we are particularly vulnerable to people who (knowingly or unknowingly) come seeking to use the fabric of our tapestry as a place to play out their personal agendas.  We can be so focused on “being nice” that all sorts of problematic behaviours remain unchallenged.  Fortunately, faith communities also attract many compassionate and spiritually aware souls who come seeking to make the world a kinder, and gentler place to live.

Seen as a tapestry, the threads representing difficult people and destructive behaviours are worn and thin … vulnerable to breakage.  The threads representing the compassionate souls seeking greater good form the strength of the fabric.  As a spiritual leader of a faith community, I think of the difficult souls as wounded people needing extra grace and compassion so that one day, they too will form the threads which hold us together rather than tearing us apart.  The challenge is to offer grace and compassion without either getting tangled in their personal dramas, or enabling their difficult behaviours.  Here’s my top six list of strategies which I use to help me walk that path.

  1. Listen Deeply

Listen deeply, and without judgement.  It is not necessary to agree with what you are hearing, nor is it necessary to even like the person you are listening to.  Respectful listening helps a person feel heard and cared for.  Be careful not to get hooked into their issues, or to engage in conversations which largely feature discussion about other people who are not present for the conversation.   If you feel yourself becoming hooked, it is time to walk away.  If you notice the conversation has drifted to a place where there is naming and blaming of another person, pause and ask that the person reframe their conversation to use “I language” instead of “he/she language”.

  1. It’s Not About You

Wayne Dyer once said, “When you judge another, you do not define them … you define yourself.  When faced with an “extra grace required” person, be aware that they are playing out their own woundedness in their behaviours and their conversations.  If they are attacking you personally, it’s not really about you, it’s about something in their own heart which is causing them to behave or speak the way they do.  Wounded people wound people, and in so doing, often cause great tears in the community tapestry.  Let the person know you are willing to listen, to send them love and light, and be clear about your personal boundaries.  Let the person know you are not willing to be part of conversations that are harmful to themselves, or others.

  1. Be Aware Of Language

Extra grace required people use words that are intended to inflame or provoke an emotional response.  The words “always” and “never” appear regularly in their sentences.  Don’t let inflammatory language go unchallenged.  Ask for specific, factual and current examples of what the extra grace required person is talking about.  When you hear words like “bullying” or “attack”, ask for specific behaviours.  Inflammatory language is often intended to control or manipulate your response, and creates an environment where drama thrives.  Be aware of how language is being used to perpetuate the speaker’s personal agenda, and shift the conversation to a more gracious and compassionate tone.  Redirect the conversation away from polarizing statements, or conversation that focusses on someone being right, and others being wrong.

  1. Future Orientation

Extra grace required people spend a lot of time talking about past events.  Looking backwards makes it next to impossible to move forwards.  “Historical rhetoric” is damaging to the spiritual and emotional well being of the speaker, as well as the listener.  Taking a future orientation means saying, “I understand you are feeling (name the emotion) right now.  What sorts of strategies do you use to take care of yourself?”  It is quite likely that the person will be unable to name any, which provides an opportunity to encourage the person to be gentle with themselves, and to suggest life giving alternatives to their current behaviour. Be prepared for resistance at this stage.  Extra grace required people rarely want to move out of the past.

  1. Problem Solving

Extra grace required people tend to focus on “what’s wrong”, and are ready to name a long list of real or perceived grievances. This type of communication is often intended to dominate and control, rather than to sincerely take care of issues.  If they are complaining about another person’s behaviour, talk about ways the complainant can engage in relationship that is more helpful for themselves and the person they are complaining about.  For example, when you hear statements like “Suzy is always snapping at me, and she never says thank you when I do something nice for her.”  respond with “have you let Suzy know how you feel?”  Chances are, they haven’t.  Scripture provides us with how to proceed with love and care for all involved, and here are a few of my favourites:

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath,    but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone

Matthew 18: 15-17 “‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

  1. An opportunity for Mutual Growth

All of our relationships mirror our inner worlds back to ourselves, and provide an opportunity for us to see the places in ourselves which need extra grace and healing. The qualities in another that upset you are often those aspects of yourself that you are trying not to see, or are unaware of.  Ask yourself the question “What am I meant to learn about myself in this situation?”  As Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

Here’s a link to a resource that I find helpful in naming and identifying specific behaviours

Lessons from the Garden – Perspective

re posted from:

Lessons from the Garden – Perspective

Have you ever been picking fruit or veggies in the garden, and you’re certain you’ve found all the ripe berries, or all the mature pea pods, only to find out you’ve missed tons of them?  This happens to me quite often.

I’ve learned to pause and change my physical position.  If I’m standing up and picking raspberries, I get down on my knees and look up instead of down and find buckets more.  If I’ve been picking from one side of a row of peas, I move around to the other side of the row and see enough mature pea pods to fill my basket again.

Perspective is everything, isn’t it?

When I have someone in my office, sharing an experience which I’m struggling to relate to, I simply change my position and pause.  I know I need to look again to hear differently.

90% of communication involves listening, not speaking.  Real listening, hearing between the words, hearing pain, sorrow, and a wealth of other powerful emotions.  Real listening is NOT about staying silent while you craft your response inside your head.  Sometimes, to really hear the person I am speaking with, I need to shift my position, my perspective.

Our personal truths reflect our personal experiences.  In hearing a persons story, I need to share their perspective.  What influences have shaped them?  Are they marginalized, experiencing racial discrimination? Are they in an abusive relationship, feeling robbed of power, of personal joy.  Are they wealthy and powerful?  What physical or emotional challenges do they face in their daily lives?  I often ask a person, after they have shared their story, to reflect on what that experience reminds them of.  Not only does this shine a light on repeated patterns, but it helps me understand what has shaped their world view, their perspective.

I remember a young girl in a congregation I served some years ago now. She was the subject of disapproving frowns from many of the ladies of the church, you know, the ones who bake really great cookies and bring them all to church to eat after the worship service.  This young girl was 6 years old, and even at that young age had lived in four different foster homes before being adopted by a congregation member.  She had learned to take what she wanted or needed in life as that had been her experience.  Her life experiences had taught her that she was the low kid on the family totem pole, the one with no voice, the one to whom only leftovers were given.  Left over love, left over clothes, left over food.  Every Sunday, this young girl would cram as many cookies as she could into her pockets and into her mouth, much to the embarrassment of her new mom, and to much disapproval from the church ladies.

From one perspective she appeared to be ill mannered, greedy, perhaps even selfish.  I simply paused one day, shifted my personal and physical perspective and grabbed a plate of cookies, winked at her, and invited her to help me eat them outside.  Her eyes popped open, startled.  Was this a trick?  Was this offer for real?

Sitting outside on the church steps, I sit so that we are both at eye level.  I offer her a cookie, and she cautiously takes one. Just one.  I ask her if she wants more, she can help herself, which she does.  Then I ask her to tell me what she will do with all those cookies.  Her response helped me understand her perspective.  That new experience also helped her to begin to dare to trust, that takes strength and courage and resilience.  Not a shred of selfish, greedy or ill mannered behaviour.  Simply learning to let go of old survival tactics and learn a new way to relate to grownups.

Perspective is everything.

Being Family

Trinity United Church

July 26, 2020

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Reflection

Anjanee Gyan-Dyck, LLWL 

Liturgy:
Genesis 29: 15-28
Psalm 105: 1-11, 45b
Romans 8: 26-39
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Opening Prayer

Loving Spirit, help me to remember that in the midst of the greatest storm is the centre of calmness and in the midst of my heart You are there. Lord, cleanse my heart and mind from all resentments and make me whole. It is only in your wholeness that your love can blossom. Illumine me with your light and love so I can serve you from the pureness of truth. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Amen

Being Family

This morning I picked the first six very ripe red plum tomatoes from the plant on my deck. I washed them and took them to my small sanctuary and thanked God for this simple miracle from seed to fruit. I needed to share this so I added it to some soup for my grandson. In this sharing with my family, I thought of how Rev. Paula must have also felt in sharing her garden produce with me. It is indeed a blessing to feel loved by family and friends who become family over time.

In today’s Genesis reading, we see the building up of Jacob’s family and the hand of God at work. I lost count of how many wives Jacob had and how many children he fathered with them. What is important is that throughout the years that Jacob served Laban to get what he wanted, God was always there. Eventually, we see the birth of Joseph who was instrumental in helping the children of Israel in their freedom from slavery and departure from Egypt. Without God in the midst of Jacob’s life, there would be no meaning and no fulfillment in his activities and no purpose for the will of God to take place.

As a Trinity United Church family, many of us have been together for a long time. We have been blessed with the bond of friendship and love. We know this to be true in the honest, loving way we respect and treat each other in front of their faces and behind their backs. These challenging days are most difficult to share ourselves with family and friends. But love is the creative force and cohesive element even when we are far away from each other.

The COVID-19 virus continues to change our lives in ways we are still trying to reflect on and untangle. Day-by-day we witness thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of disease cases. A horrifying consequence of contracting this virus is the damage to various parts of the internal body even after a person gets better.

It is unimaginable suffering.  Our world-wide dependency on science and technology do not seem to have any type of vaccine even in the near future. In addition, riots, uprisings, and bloodshed are the daily hour-by- hour news. We see areas in cities being looted, ravaged, burned, and destroyed. Not even any kind of science and technology can solve or prevent this human evil that seems to be everywhere. Yet, through these unprecedented times, we witness the hand of God working through it all for human good.

All over the world there is a common call to stay at home to avoid contracting this airborne disease. This precious time is given to us. It is not a time to idle away in material madness or waste it in outward worldly things. God calls us now to return to Him in a collective spirit: “Come closer to me my children. I am the only One whom you truly have. I am eternally seated in your heart. Only you can focus your mind on me, the Living Christ.” We know this to be true because once we connect to Him, we are able to feel His presence. This is evident in Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

Paul describes the power of God’s Holy Spirit in us and the new life in union with Christ when we connect to God within. In verse 23, Paul explains that the Spirit is the first of God’s gifts to us. This is the Spirit of real Love. Today, we have no excuse for finding God. We do not have to go on pilgrimages. We do not have to advertise or shout to show how much we love God. This is not a time for lectures or words or to prove how religious we are.

This is a time for only you and God; a time for your inner Christ journey of meditation. This is a time for your own Gethsemane. This is a time for family to walk alone at home with Christ. “Only in the degree that you live consciously in the realization of God and let this realization of God dwell in you does it become true that you do not live alone—that the very place you stand is holy ground, for God is with you and He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

To bring divine awareness into our human consciousness, we must outgrow any kind of limited conventional conceptions. Meeting the divine joy of the Infinite Christ in the altar of our heart is the only way to touch his hem now and always. Christ, the Universal Intelligence of all creation is the joy of meditation.

Paul reminds the early church family that nothing can separate us from God because we have in our heart Christ Jesus. As the family of God, we must seek out His Kingdom of Heaven within for it is there that Love flourishes. It is only in this inner journey that each one of us can help make this a reality on earth. We may have the mustard seeds in hand, but if we do not plant one seed, how can it grow into a tree for the birds to nest. Similarly, we may have the yeast on hand but if we do not mix with the sugar and flour, how can there be bread to eat?

“Our current world-dilemma is but a very real magnification of humanity’s inner state.” The Christ within cannot be fooled. He knows our good and bad thoughts and actions. Paul states that “when the time of reaping comes, God’s people will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom.”  God has blessed us in this pandemic to turn to Him.

We at Trinity are a family of God. As a collective spirit with Him, we provide a strong, positive vibrational energy that can help ease the intensity of the COVID-19 virus, hasten the discovery of a vaccine and change the blights of unnecessary bloodshed to healing and restoration of our world. The time for truly connecting with God is now. His Love is the only answer.  AMEN

THIS TOO WILL PASS AWAY:

If I can endure for this minute
Whatever is happening to me,
No matter how heavy my heart is
Or how “dark” the moment may be—
If I can remain calm and quiet
With all my world crashing about me,
Secure in the knowledge God loves me
When everyone else seems to doubt me—
If I can but keep on believing
What I know in my heart to be true,
That “darkness will fade in the morning”
And that this will pass away, too—
Then nothing in life can defeat me
For as long as this knowledge remains
I can suffer whatever is happening
For I know God will break “all the chains”
That are binding me tight in “the Darkness”
And trying to fill me with fear—
For there is no night without dawning
and I know that “my morning” is near.
                  Helen Steiner Rice. (1968). Heart Gifts. Fleming H. Revell Company.
Moira Timms. (1980) Coming Changes. Orenda/Unity Press.