Sisters and Brothers,

Week 26… It is hard to believe, but we have been living with COVID for half a year now! And I don’t know about you, but it seems like forever since we worshiped together… forever since we were able to live without some level of daily anxiety or fear about the COVID19 virus and how it has affected (and continues to affect) our families, neighbours, our communities of faith and beyond!

And with the return to school many are carrying the extra burden of making vital decisions about home-schooling, virtual learning or sending their youth back into school buildings. There’s fear surrounding bussing, overcrowded classrooms, and how youth will be monitored and managed as far as masks, hand hygiene and social distancing. There’s added worries about the safety and well-being of ALL who work in our schools, attend our schools, transport the students to/from our schools… because there are so many unknowns, so much at stake, so many lives that are now dependent on EVERYONE following the rules, respecting the protocols, staying home if they are sick.

Overnight social bubbles have been expanded to include classmates… and by extension, their family members. With lockers unavailable, new thought will need to be given for the food that is sent to school, the clothes one will wear, and how all of this will be kept separate and within safety guidelines…

My head spins at all the decisions that are being made in “real time” by school administrators and teachers…as they try to remain positive, be adaptive and creative, remain calm, figure out the challenges of wearing multiple layers of PPE, while still covering the curriculum, and helping their students adjust to the “new normal” (which is constantly evolving and changing) while also quelling the fears of the students, encouraging their ongoing engagement in their coursework, and keeping tabs on student interactions to insure everyone is as safe as possible from the moment they step onto school property to the moment they leave each and every day.

This is a daunting task!
And it begs us, as people of faith to ask, “What can I do?” “How can I help?”

Pray. Pray for all in our school system; for safety… patience… resilience… kindness… adaptability… collegiality… support… and for their mental health and physical well-being. Be kind and empathetic to the parents/grandparents/guardians/teachers/administrators who are making tough decisions. Be supportive and encouraging. Listen deeply to cares and concerns expressed. Help with transportation, homework, as a reading buddy, whatever is needed to support local families. Perhaps you can cook a meal… sew a mask… provide some back to school supplies or connect with a teacher and find out how you can best support their efforts. In all you do, seek out creative and collaborative ways to build community, and be community by sharing of yourselves and your talents with another!

Our scripture for Sunday, from 1st Corinthians 12, tells us that we have all been given many gifts, yet there is one spirit; that we are a body, which thrives when all our systems support one another, function with unity, see each part’s uniqueness as a gift and seeks to use our giftedness to bless and build up. Our scripture passage reminds us how God, the Giver, has abundantly provided all that we need, so we can grow in Christ’s likeness and model his grace and love, especially at such times as we are facing.

How can each of us support and accompany our educators and students (and their families) at this anxious time?
How much does a smile cost? An encouraging word? A prayer?
What gifts do you have to offer? What talents can you share?
How can you be community for many in despair?
Share Jesus through your loving acts, to show how much you care!

Blessings,
Sue

Links

Links from The United Church of Canada

NEW! Rev. Dr. Sharon Ballantyne has written a powerful devotional on experiences of persons with disabilities. This resource offers 52 devotions and can be used as a personal devotional, be shared in small group meetings, or be integrated into use in worship similar to the way a Minute for Mission might be shared. Please find attached this 14 page booklet (The ABCs of Equity) for your prayerful consideration and engagement.

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 (HFRC)
https://hfrcucc.ca/
https://hfrcucc.ca/rcevents/news/

LATEST NEWSLETTER from HFRC

Worship Offerings & Opportunities

THIS SUNDAY we offer 2 options for worship! 😊

OPTION 1: PARKING LOT WORSHIP

Please join us for ‘Parking Lot Worship’ in the Carlisle UC parking lot at NOON!
You are also invited to bring a book bag, briefcase, backpack, knitting bag, tool pouch, etc. that we can bless and remind us of the ways we serve and our recommitment to serve. And as we recommit to our shared ministry, Sean McBryde will reaffirm the vows made by his parents at his baptism, and in doing so, become a full member of The United Church of Canada! How exciting!

***PLEASE NOTE: THE PARKING LOT worship bulletin and full liturgy is being provided to folks on a separate post! You are encouraged to print it or download it to a phone, tablet or laptop and bring your copies/devices on Sunday. VERY LIMITED printed copies will be available for folks who do not have internet, access to a printer or devices such as cellphones, tablets or laptops to download the bulletin/liturgy!

OPTION 2: HOME WORSHIP

For folks unable to be with us in person, we offer our regular weekly bulletin, full service (with music links), puzzles, sermon, etc. (attached and available through our websites). You are also invited to have a book bag, backpack, sewing/crafting bag, briefcase, etc. available for blessing! And even though you will not be with us in the parking lot, we know you will be with us in spirit as we gather to affirm Sean and the many gifts we all bring to our shared ministry!

The weekly link to on-line worship experiences from across Canada (431)!

This week’s prayer for the journey – is an adaptation of the prayer I offered to accompany the migrant workers as they finish their work and travel back to their families

O God of Creation, you have blessed us with the changing of the seasons.

As we welcome the autumn months, may the earlier setting of the sun
remind us to take time to rest.

May the brilliant colours of the leaves
remind us of the wonder of your creation.

May the steam of our breath in the cool air
remind us that it is you who gives us the breath of life.

May the harvest from the fields
remind us of the abundance we have been given and are to share with others.

May the dying of summer’s spirit
remind us of your great promise; that dying gives way to rising… and life eternal.

May the setting of the sun
remind us of our good day’s labour
and how we are connected by this same sun, though borders and oceans divide.

May the migration of the birds,
remind us of our call to return to our families… our communities of care,
with stories to share, and love always in our hearts.

In all we do… in all our days, may we be reminded that we are not alone,
as we know you, O God, are with us,
as we wrestle, worry, wonder…
in our peace, our prayers, our pondering…
as we serve, share, and shine your Light,
in each breath, each being, each blessing…

May we praise you for your grace and goodness forever and ever!
In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Amen

Leaving you with a stunning, inclusive version of ‘Amazing Grace’ to melt your heart and give you hope of what CAN be, when we work, serve, sing, pray, and praise together, in Love’s Name & Way! ENJOY!

Peace,
Sue

Sue Cowan
Supply Minister,
Carlisle-Kilbride United Churches