Thursday, 26 May 2016

Decision



Decision - What an interesting word for today considering all the big decisions I have made in my life in the last few months – biggest of all, to leave full time ministry in Cole Harbour Woodside after 26 years.

Life is a constant series of decisions – some small and seemingly inconsequential and others quite momentous and life altering.  The funny thing is that sometimes in the making of the decision we don’t realize how life altering it might be.  There was a tv show I sometimes enjoyed called “Twice in a Lifetime.” Each episode centers around one person whose life has been less than intended, filled with anger, sorrow or lost love. After death, they are given a second chance to go back in time and somehow persuade or coerce their younger self to go a different route; to make different decisions, and they only have three days to do it. Judge Othniel, whose story is told in the Book of Judges 3: 7-10, is the judge that decides on the main characters' fates.

Each return journey, or life sentence, begins with these words: You will have three days, and three days only, to change the course of your life. ... You are a free agent of the universe with the blessing of Almighty God and His court! I have been referring to my semi-retired self as a “free agent in the ecclesial universe” free to make different decisions that I could make working full time. 

Of course, “Twice in a Lifetime” is just a show and we can’t go back and change the decisions that we once made; we can make new decisions to try and alter the outcome of previous decisions but for the most part a decision will always have some effect and sometimes the effect of a decision is not revealed for quite some time.  

As we prepare for our June trip to France, I am so grateful for the decision I made back in the fall of 2008 to have dinner with Scott McWilliams so he could tell me all about Rostad Tours and the opportunity to be a Tour Host.  That decision and the subsequent decision to find a group of people to take to Europe on our first trip has paved the way to amazing travel adventures with fabulous groups of people, some who would never have traveled had we not made it possible.  

Life is all about decisions and all we can do is try and make the best decisions in every moment of our lives.  I have come to the conclusion that my life is much better when I decide to see the world with eyes of gratitude and I when I decide to follow the nudging of the Holy Spirit when she prods me to act in certain ways.

On Monday when we were at the cottage I heard from a couple of people that Barb Garnhum, a lovely woman from the congregation was in hospital and not doing well.  It was a holiday and we were coming back from Shelburne.  When we got home late in the afternoon, I had a decision to make, go to the hospital then, or wait till the morning.  I decided to go and I ended up have a beautiful conversation with Barb and her daughter.  Barbara died yesterday afternoon and I will be forever grateful that I made the decision to go and visit on Monday while she was still able to talk. 

On a lighter note Paul made a decision to plan tulips last fall and all this spring we have been reveling in their beauty.  



Today I am off to the Annual Meeting of Maritime Conference and who knows what decisions will be made there.  I do know that Lesley Hamilton, our former intern will be ordained and I am delighted to be part of that service.

As you go through your day, I invite you to think about all the decisions you will make and if you are unsure of a direction, take a minute, calm your soul and seek the guidance of the Spirit so that she might offer you wisdom.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Tenderness



Last night a wonderful group of women gathered at a local pub for our monthly “Women, Wine and Worship” event.  The conversation was focused on both our understanding of the Holy Spirit and sharing experiences of her movement in our own lives.  It was great conversation and the thing I appreciated most was the tenderness with which people listened and shared their stories.  

We live in a world which is often filled with sharp edges and fast paced deadlines.  There is a rush to get things done and an abruptness that can so often take over.  Last night for 90 minutes we sat over wine or tea and shared faithful stories of our lives.  There was laughter, tears, deep feelings and tenderness.  In a group of women with an age span of more than 40 years, it is quite the gift to spend time in each other's company and to recognize the presence of the Divine in each one. 

This is an interesting time for me as each week draws me closer to my last day in Cole Harbour Woodside.  It feels like both a poignant and tender time.  I am so grateful for the amazing experiences of ministry in the place and as I clear out my book shelves and go through files I am finding mementos of so many experiences and beautiful cards filled with expressions of thanks for ministry offered.  These fill my heart with tenderness. 

I will cease to be the minister at CHWUC at the end of June but the memories and the blessings of this time will be part of my life forever.  When I picked my word for today I immediately thought of the first verse of a hymn in More Voices #173 

“Put peace into each other’s hands and like a treasure hold it,
Protect it like a candle flame, with tenderness enfold it.” 


 The last verse says,

“Reach out in friendship, stay with faith in touch with those around you.
Put peace into each other’s hands; the peace that sought and found you."

How blessed are we when friendship and faith come together and peace and tenderness mark our encounters.  Such was my experience last night.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Transformation



This is a season of transformation in the earth around us, in my life and in the life of the congregation. I love watching the world transform in the spring as the previously lifeless looking trees burst into bloom and the tulips and daffodils show off their colors.  Yesterday I had to buy a new camera, since mine decided to have a serious mechanical malfunction on Saturday night.  In the space of 3 years technology has transformed so significantly that the features on my “old” camera are now available in a camera far more compact and light weight.  As I walked to work this morning I enjoyed taking a few pictures of nature transforming.


 The buds on the tree will soon transform to leaves

This Sunday is Pentecost and marks the beginning of a huge transformation in the early church brought upon by the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  With tongues of fire, the wind of the Spirit blew through the gathering of God’s people and all were energized to carry out the mission of the church.  Pentecost Sunday is sometimes referred to as the birthday of the church.  Those early followers were transformed by the presence of power of the Holy Spirit and went forth to transform the world.  Many of our congregations need to experience that transforming power of the Holy Spirit and more than they, they need to be open to where the Spirit is leading.  I have always felt so blessed by the willingness of Cole Harbour Woodside to be open to the leading of the Spirit, to allow God to direct our decisions and our movement…from amalgamation, to the building, to unreal ministry and Parish nursing – all directions given to us through discernment and all bringing transformation and new life to the congregation.  Transformation is a gift when led by the Spirit.

I am excited about the transformation happening in my life at the moment and it is huge.  Leaving 31 years of full time ministry, 26 here in Cole Harbour, is life changing but it feels good and right, and that for me is confirmation that the decision I made in January was indeed the right decision.  I also feel incredibly confident that the decision made by the search committee to have Michael Mugford be the minister through the next 12 months of transition is so right.  There is a lovely hymn in More Voices called “Embracing Change” and I know that for many people change is not easy but these words in the final verse are comforting
Spirit God: be our breath, be our song.
Blow through us, bringing strength to move on.
Through change, through challenge, we’ll greet the new dawn…
Spirit God be our song.

May it be so for all of us.

Milan

Our last day in Italy was spent in Milan visiting 4 very impressive sites. We started at the Cathedral which is the 4th largest in the wo...