Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Week 18… and it has been a tough week for many in the Carlisle-Kilbride communities as we received news of the deaths of Jill Stanski and 1st Carlisle Scouter, Alex Brown. So many people are grieving in our midst, and their grief is compounded by the months of isolation, the worries of infection, the ever-changing restrictions, protocols, and laws that are intended to keep us safe and healthy, yet have also thrust us into a “new normal” we are still struggling to comprehend.

As your Logistics Team met on Monday, we continued to ponder what re-opening might look like; what new practices we’ll need to embrace, what precautions we’ll need to take, what assistance (in the form of volunteers…. YOU) we’ll need to recruit if we are to resume some form of in-person worship in the fall. How does sterilizing and sanitizing become worshipful, when we believe grace is all we need? How do we enjoy intimacy with God and one another when we must keep socially distanced and wear physical masks we can now hide behind? How do we live into the kingdom’s inclusivity and welcome, if we are not feeling too easy about welcoming the ones we already know… and love?

My dear Sistah, Rev. Debbie McMillan, who is currently serving in Cayuga, Ontario offers us some further reflections after reading an article in the Millstone News (link below) about “welcome” in the Town of Almonte, “The Friendly Town” which is located 46 kilometres southwest of downtown Ottawa. It could easily be an article from your local newspaper.

Debbie writes:

“We all inhabit communities.

A community can be a social club, a religious space, a sports space, an interest-based space or a virtual space. In the case of Almonte, Ontario it can be a geographic space.

If any of your community spaces have the words “friendly”, “warm”, or “welcoming” etc. in any of its mottos, vision statements, covenants, public or internal communication you and your community need to be doing the work of becoming anti-racist. Period.

Doing that work means there will be times when you are going to have to call out systems and the behaviours they protect. That is going to feel uncomfortable. It will affect you and your relationships.

There may be times when voices like those mentioned in this story scream out and harass; there may be times when the voices are quiet but still audible.

If your community claims it is “friendly” but your community is silent when its members behave this way, to whom is your community friendly?
To itself?
To your friend circle?
To those who enjoy your level of privilege?
To those who have had your exact life experiences and share your exact beliefs?
Let me be clear: community silence in the face of racism upholds it and perpetuates it.

Allies in the struggle against racism: if your community has one of those “friendly words” in use, please encourage your communities to begin the work of becoming anti-racist—if they haven’t started already. And please -be like the writer of this article and stand with those who are directly experiencing racism.”

Rev. Debbie McMillan (used with permission)

As we continue towards re-opening, may we be fully aware of the welcome we extend. May we be constantly mindful of the messages we send by our actions (and inaction), our words and our silence. In all we do, and all our decisions… may we proclaim the Risen One’s inclusive welcome and the Holy One’s Abiding Love. May our actions be Spirit-led; overflowing with grace and care for the other. May our protocols and practices create space so we can engage deeply in the mission and ministry at hand; in personal soul work and community activities to become anti-racist. And in all we do… all we are… may we delight in the One who calls us beloved, welcomes us like the Prodigal, shapes us in the Divine’s Way and sends us forth to serve and love; to tend to the grieving, the lost, the lonely… the unloveable… the long forgotten or long oppressed with the same compassion and care that has been shown to us.

May it be so.
Sue

You Raise Me Up – A Piano Rendition reaching beyond borders —- ENJOY!


Links

NEW: Racism in Almonte (short article) — could easily be one of many Ontario communities!

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:

NEW!!! United Church of Canada Essentials – note the Youth Project!!!

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 continue in week 2 of our 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 (holding at 425)!

Our prayer for the journey –

Holy God,
the ways of the world we have created tempt us greatly.
We desire to have more.
We desire to move up the ladder of worldly success.
We desire to be admired and looked upon.
Transform my desires to be Your desires,
to love one another and to seek the well-being of others.
Transform my heart to be like Yours,
to love all; especially the overlooked, the unseen,
the lost and forgotten, the grieving,
the ones gasping to breathe.
Work in me, O God…
shaping and reshaping my thoughts and understandings
so I know you more deeply, see you in the other,
find you when I am seeking,
and point to you through my living and loving;
as I serve in Your Way.
Amen

Quote of the week, shared with the Prayer Circle (Thanks Joan!)… so apropos for our communities of faith… “If you are weary this week of caring for yourself and others, here is an encouraging word, thanks to Muriel: “We are all a little broken but broken crayons still colour!” Keep on colouring!”

“Keep on colouring” my friends! Thanks be to God, may it be so!

Sue

Sue Cowan
Supply Minister,
Carlisle-Kilbride United Churches