Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Week 19… As we ponder what Phase 3 will look like and how we can live into the ever-changing “new normal” of our COVID world, we do so while holding a great tension within and amongst us. We LOVE our churches. We LOVE our communities of faith. We LOVE our places of worship, our sacred spaces, the music, the fellowship, the gatherings weekly to be with God and one another!

And though we know (on many levels) God is not ultimately associated with a physical place, rather in relationship and promise, we also know we experience God in the places we cherish, in spaces that evoke memories… in places we mourn when they are destroyed or disbanded… are run-down or have outlived their usefulness… when insurmountable repair bills and retro-fits to accommodate accessibility or aging attendees… render a church building too costly to save or fix… Or worse, when the community around the church no longer sees value in the building, no longer seeks the treasure it offers… no longer looks for the Holy in places of bricks and mortar… in rituals and practices that are not familiar or formative… in spaces that are no longer functional and are far too formal.

I believe in this season of COVID, all of us have been invited to experience God in more places than church buildings, no matter how beautiful or inspiring they are! Perhaps since March you have found a place in nature, or a quiet spot in your home? Or maybe you’ve unexpectedly stumbled upon sacred ground in the most unexpected places, like a waiting room, the local market, a driveway visit or the doctor’s office during a diagnosis. In good news or bad… in joy and sorrow, we want to hold fast to the words of our UCC Creed… “We are not alone” … to the knowledge God is with us always, just as God promises, no matter where we go… where we are… what we are facing… what is yet to come that is beyond our knowing… our imagining!

What will “church” look like in the coming days? How will we gather in sacred and life-giving ways when we cannot sing or touch… share responsive readings or prayers… when offering is not collected, presented and blessed… when sacraments like baptism and communion are reframed and reconstructed in light of COVID restrictions? How will it feel? What memories will it evoke if we have pews taped off… the smell of cleaning products permeates the air… everyone is wearing masks… and we are seated 6 feet apart in family clusters? How will we live out the love of God, neighbour, self and other in meaningful ways, when community suppers are forbidden, and any/all gatherings come with a long list of expectations and checklists; including contact tracing sign-in sheets, safety practices, cleaning procedures, a plethora of “dos and don’ts” to meet/exceed COVID guidelines as set out by the country, province, local health unit, insurance companies… and now, even our communities of faith.

THIS is what you are being asked to consider… to contemplate… to prayerfully discern… and then to provide your feedback to the Re-Opening document that was sent to you this week through the survey that was included. What risks are you willing to take? What role will you play in this new way of being church? How will you help to keep everyone safe and healthy? And collectively, in all that we do, how will we create sacred space for everyone to meet and praise God… to learn and grow in faith… to encourage one another on our journeys… to be the hands and feet of Christ to each other and the world beyond our church walls?

May we see and seek the kin(g)dom of God and the Spirit’s leading, as we discern the way forward… holding the tension between yearning to come back to the familiar, with the reality that nothing will be the same… and knowing God will be in it all; with us and amongst us…

We are NOT alone, indeed! Thanks be to God!

Peace,
Sue

As we ponder the Kingdom of God this week, here’s a new version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” for your enjoyment. Sabatino (Sam) Vacca, the Musical Director at East Plains UC in Burlington wrote the orchestral and vocal arrangements for the group known as ViVA Trio!
ENJOY!!!


Links

NEW!!!!
The Secret Life of Canada – CBC podcasts telling the history we never learned in school!
Learn about Canadians such as Bernelda Wheeler, Dr James Barry, C.D. Hoy, Tom Longboat or Irene Uchida and the contribution they made to our country and the world! Find out the roots of Chinatown, Japantown, the complicated history of the iconic Hudson Bay blankets and more!
What’s the deal of blackface? What happened to Indigenous peoples when Canada-US borders were drawn? What is the history of Kanesatake that led to the Oka crisis? Get a crash course on “Uncle Tom” or The Indian Act… and more!

NEW!!! —- ATTENTION YOUTH!!!
Living Rock Ministries, with support from the City of Hamilton, is hosting the 18th Annual Arts of August Youth Art Showcase. In the context of COVID-19 and social isolation, this is an opportunity for youth, 13-25 years of age, from all over Hamilton to find hope and meaning through artistic expressions around the themes of Peace, Love, Equality and Culture.

Mediums include visual arts, photography, sculpture, literary (poems, articles 1,000 words and less), performance (music, spoken word, dance, drama up to 5 minutes), video and group projects. The art showcase will be held virtually on Thursday, August 27th, 2020 at 7:00 – 8:00 PM. The show will be broadcasted through Instagram Live, Hometown Hub and Cable 14. For more information visit https://www.livingrock.ca/arts-of-august.

Links from The United Church of Canada:

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

Anti-Racism Page – 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 continue to Week 3 of our Sunday service series where the Parables of Jesus (as found in Matthew 13) teach (and hopefully) transform us! 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 426)!

This week’s prayer for the journey –

Holy One,
You teach me by your Word,
through your parables,
through the lives and living of your followers from the beginning of time.
Grant all who follow your Way,
faith to sustain us,
friends to support us,
challenge to stir us,
song to empower us,
peace to refresh us,
tears to release us,
love to hold and uphold us,
now and always.
AMEN

One final reminder…
Please complete your survey regarding re-opening!
Your voice matters! Your concerns, comments, and constructive feedback will help shape the “new normal” for Carlisle-Kilbride pastoral charge! Your Re-Opening Committee is listening… is open for conversation… and is seeking to serve you and create a safe and sacred space for all!

Stay cool! Stay safe! Stay healthy!
Have a Blessed Week!

And a HEARTFELT THANK YOU to folks who sent greetings, cards, e-cards, texts, emails, FB greetings and especially to ALL of the people of Carlisle-Kilbride for the beautiful flowers that helped me celebrate my Birthday this week! Feeling blessed, humbled and thankful that 62 started with sooooo much love! THANK YOU!!!

Peace,
Sue

Sue Cowan
Supply Minister,
Carlisle-Kilbride United Churches