Dear Friends,

Week 17… 115 days of being in a State of Emergency and I hope you are finding ways to quiet yourselves, stay cool, keep hydrated and enjoy the blessings of the Maker in your midst!

It’s been a COLD and HOT week for my family! The rented water heater started leaking and was replaced (YEAH!) but with one that had a faulty igniter, so we went without hot water for 5 days; boiling water for dishes and enjoying brisk showers! Then Wednesday night the AC stopped working! Which meant more calls to technicians… more inconvenience… Praise God for local techs and businesses, who procured a new condenser and had our home down 10 degrees in short order… only to have this “fix” stop working Friday morning… so our lives are disrupted once again!

The blessing of hot water at our fingertips… the comfort we glean from our AC units are privileges many do not enjoy or can ever afford! The fact my family has been inconvenienced (much like with the pandemic) is annoying, yet our lives have never threatened… our health has never been compromised. Our ability to call for help, pay for replacements, and weather the storm provide yet more reasons why we know we are counted in the worlds “haves” rather than the “have nots”.

This Sunday we begin looking at some parables of Jesus found in Matthew 13. Jesus uses this method of teaching to disrupt his followers complacency… stir them into action… challenge their thinking and understanding… And by their interaction with the parable, the listeners are invited to witness everyday scenarios that demand a response… their response!

Our parable this week is the Sower and the seeds, which I found very interesting in light of a colleague posting a link to a speech by Valarie Kaur delivered at a National Watch Night (New Year’s Eve) service held in Washington DC on December 31, 2016. Valarie is a lawyer, film-maker, activist, Sikh community leader. She’s a Mom, a daughter, an author, educator and has both a law degree and divinity degree from Stanford University! Best of all, she’s a sower!

For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, listen!

Valarie’s words and understandings bridge differing religions and denominations, political stripes and social status. She speaks from first-hand experiences of loss, being an immigrant family, looking different, following a religion most are ignorant about, knowing racism… and yet her words ring of hope… her energy is contagious… her understandings well-reasoned and beautifully articulated… She is brave when she speaks of personal growth and enlightenment, and an awakening to a “revolutionary love”! And as a lover of words… the beauty of language and the pictures we can paint with them, when Valarie offers these words (which are directed at America, but could as easily be Canada or any other county in the world) I want to scream “YES!”

“What if this darkness, is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?! What if our America is not dead, but a country that is waiting to be born? What if the story of our country is one long labor? What if this is our nation’s great transition?! Breath! Push! We will breathe… in love, through love!”

Valarie Kaur is doing what our parable invites us to do… to hear God’s Word… to let the seeds of the Word fall upon our good soil… to tend to it… help it grow… and bear fruit by sharing the seeds with others; randomly… generously… trusting in the great harvest that is yet to come!

This week I watched an interview Valarie did with Rev Traci Blackmon (link below) and learned how she uses a simple spiritual practice to un-learn biases and ways we have all been taught to differentiate people; by colour, status, what they look like, what they are wearing, what they earn, what toys they have, etc. She walks around her neighbourhood and as each person passes by she thinks of a word that describes them as a person… “mother, aunt, brother, sister, father…” which humanizes them and helps her see them as her family… her neighbour… her community…her kin.

Valarie also shared a vision of unity… of oneness… and offered these words which have touched me deeply “You are a part of me, I do not yet know.” And in you, “I see no enemy. I see no stranger” Just imagine if each time we met someone new… we pondered what new understanding of ourselves they will reveal? Imagine if we were able to see past the “scripts” we’ve been taught— to fear… avoid… dismiss the poor, the homeless, the punk who wants to wash our car windows on the off-ramp, the one with tattoos and piercings over most of their body or who sports a strange (to us) haircut, the large person of colour with the heavy chains, the person with severe learning or physical challenges… and instead saw them fully as the beloved child of God they are? Hmmmm

I am now reading Valarie’s book “See No Stranger” which would be wonderful to unpack in a study group! As educator, author and spiritual guru Parker Palmer (A Hidden Wholeness) lauds, “This is a book that will change your life!” I can hardly wait! 😊

Seeds. More seeds.
Even in the oppressive heat and violent storms of the week, I wonder… what seeds is God planting in you? And what seeds are you sowing for others?

In Love’s Name & Service,
Sue


Links

Rev Traci Blackmon (United Church of Christ) interviews Valerie Kaur (activist):

Anti-Black Racism in the Canadian context webinar:

Anti-Racism Page – The United Church of Canada

COVID-19 links from The United Church of Canada:

From the National Church
https://www.united-church.ca/covid-19 or

From our Horseshoe Falls Regional Council
https://hfrcucc.ca/
https://hfrcucc.ca/rcevents/news/

Worship Offerings and Opportunities

This week we begin 3 consecutive Sunday services where the Parables of Jesus (as found in Matthew 13) take center stage! Please find attached the joint bulletin, full liturgy (with links, prayers, sermon, etc.), meditation, and of course, puzzles! 😊

The weekly link to on-line worship experiences from across Canada (426 and rising)!

This week’s prayer for the journey –

Mysterious One,
When I stand in the in-between places of life;
you stand there with me.

The moments of dusk and dawn,
the place between what I know and what I have yet to discover.

When I meet you in the threshold of life you hold my doubts, questions and disturbances in the safe embrace of your love.

May I meet you as I seek clarity and peace.

May I encounter your presence as I open myself to Your newness on my horizon.

May I experience you as I step through the threshold.

May it be so.
AMEN

Have a blessed week!
Stay safe. Be cool!

Sue

Sue Cowan
Supply Minister,
Carlisle-Kilbride United Churches