Meme Monday!

One of the crazy things about this year is how much has changed already. We are finding new ways of being, new ways of living. In the Before, memes were something I enjoyed, but now they are something that I hunt. I stalk them, looking for content for this post. It’s a small thing (so many of the changes are more impactful than how I see memes), but to me it’s just one more example of how different things are now. So there’s my deep thought for the day. Enough! Let’s get on with the meme party!

Lets start with one that cracked me up…after a few moments when I finally got it (if you don’t get it, you seriously need to examine your knowledge of song lyrics):

Another sign of the changing times (and also I caught myself saying this the other day and it made me think of this meme and giggle):

This is so wrong. But I love it:

Let the 2020 jokes continue:

A trio of deep, and meaningful truths (and the one about friendship – I am soooo grateful for my friends who pour some coffee (coughWINEcough) and pull up a chair!):

It’s funny cause it’s true (and Ive never been good with numbers, so this was absolutely true of me!):

I pretty much say this to myself on the daily:

A little super-hero mistaken-identity humour for you:

And finally, a blessing for your day:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, keep on laughing and thinking and drawing closer to God!

Remembering God in the wilderness…

This week, we are turning to the Book of Job. It’s not an easy one. Not one we turn to all that often. It tends to be a part of Scripture of which we know only the Sunday-School-version. You know: The Devil came to God and said he could corrupt anyone, God said go ahead and try, the Devil took everything from Job – house, family, health – and told him to curse God, Job refused because he was a righteous man, eventually the Devil gave up and God restored everything Job had lost. And that’s not a horrible bare-bones telling of what happens in this dramatic poem. But it loses a lot of the nuance and ignores the beauty of the poetry found here.

Job changes – he begins the book as a self-righteous man. After he loses everything, three of his friends come to him and suggest it’s his own fault that all these terrible things are happening to him. He must have committed a terrible sin. But Job answers each saying that he has done nothing wrong.

Finally, a fourth friend, Elihu comes and reminds Job of God’s sovereignty and beauty (through looking at creation). Job remains silent. And some commentators agree that this is a sign of Job’s move towards humility and a sign that Job agrees with Elihu.

Then God speaks from a whirlwind. His speeches neither explain Job’s suffering, nor defend divine justice, nor enter into the courtroom confrontation that Job has demanded, nor respond to his oath of innocence. (His speeches neither explain Job’s suffering, nor defend divine justice, nor enter into the courtroom confrontation that Job has demanded, nor respond to his oath of innocence. ( Walton 2008, p. 339). In the end, Job acknowledges God’s sovereignty, his own inability to see the whole picture, and Job repents. Then God restores all that Job has lost.

And that’s the simplified version! But I believe that Elihu’s speech has something to say to us in these wilderness days. So let’s begin.

We start with Eric’s prelude, an arrangement of one of my favourite contemporary hymns, “In Christ Alone,” by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, arranged by Larry Shackley:

A prayer:

from the re:Worship blog

Our first hymn is #332 O Lord my God/How Great Thou Art:

Here is the sermon, “Remembering God in the wilderness,” including a reading of Job 36:24-37:24:

And here is the photo I shared as part of the sermon:

And our final hymn is #500 Glorify thy name:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, keep remembering who God is, look to nature to see His glory, and trust that He is with you in the midst of the wilderness.

Worship Resources!

Happy Saturday, dear friends! It’s time to round up some resources to get you ready for worship tomorrow. Let’s begin with this lovely prayer:

My friend Shelagh has been singing again, here is a lovely version of Hymn #211, Take up your cross:

This fun, acoustic throwback to a song that was cutting edge when I was in my 30’s (well, now I feel old!):

Not to argue with myself (although that’s totally something I do), but when this showed up in my memories on Facebook, I felt it was both true, and maybe a bit misleading? Hear me out, I believe that praising, thanking, and trusting God in the midst of the difficult times is absolutely vital to a life of faith. I guess I just balk at anything definitively being called the “deepest level of worship.” Because it could be different things at different times to different people. And because I worry that one of the pieces that is too easily over-looked when it comes to worship is the idea of service and community (so part of me is uncomfortable with the possibility of reading this as “it’s just me and God, nothing else needed” in this.). There. I feel better for getting that off my chest. 🙂

And while this one doesn’t mention God, and isn’t focussed directly on worship, I think it’s a good companion piece to the above. Doing these things – making the choice to be kind and to see the good and to smile and to lift others up – is also integral to worship. Love God by loving others!:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, keep on striving to worship God in new and impactful ways!

Letting go…

So, when the lockdown began, many people spent some of their time going through things to donate. I clearly remember one conversation with my Mom – we talk every day, and in lockdown there wasn’t all that much to talk about. She said to me on the phone one night: “Your Dad went through his ties and has 12 to donate, when we’re able to donate stuff again.”

It was kind of random and out of the blue, and I burst out laughing over the fact that this was what the pandemic had reduced us to…talking about how many ties my Dad had to donate from his wardrobe.

I didn’t get on that bandwagon. My clothes and other assorted belongings did not get purged or reduced or donated during lockdown.

But now I am working on it. Maybe I’m just a bit behind the curve (or a lot behind the curve)?Suddenly I’m a bit obsessed with getting rid of the stuff I don’t need. There’s a lot of it. It’s kind of overwhelming. It’s a bit shocking how much one can accumulate when living a busy life.

I don’t want to go all Marie Kondo on you, but I do think there is something to be said for letting go of the stuff that no longer serves you. It could be physical stuff, it could be past relationships, it could be old attitudes, it could be traumas that continue to haunt you long after they are over. We all have stuff we need to let go.

Not because we’re giving up, but because we’re moving forward, making room for what we might not have room for, if we were to continue to cling to that old stuff.

Until tomorrow, dear friends, lets work at throwing off everything that hinders, and run with perseverance the race set before us.

Comparison or compassion…

I remember reading John Ortberg’s The Me I Want to Be, several years ago. He wrote about comparison being the thief of joy, and a kind of spiritual self-destruction. (I’m paraphrasing, of course!) I remember my jaw dropping, as it often does when reading Ortberg. I had simply never thought of it that way before, but his words rung true.

And when a friend sent this my way today, I immediately thought of Ortberg and the lessons of that book:

The reality is, it’s easy to look at someone else’s life with envy. It’s easy to look at what they present to the world and think they’ve got it all together. It’s easy to take a part of the picture and think it is actually the whole picture. But the longer I’m an adult (and some days I question if I am one!), the more convinced I am that everyone struggles. Everyone has a mess you can’t see. Everyone is just trying to keep it together.

And therefore, meeting people with compassion is not just a good way to be – it’s the ONLY way to be. Jesus was serious about this. He met people with compassion, especially the people who were hurting.

The only people he didn’t have a tonne of patience and compassion for were those who made the hard lives even harder. Those who used their power and influence to inflict further injury on those who were already struggling. Those who felt they had the right to judge others, while escaping judgement themselves.

Jesus’ mission was on of compassion and self-sacrifice. As his followers, it is our job to do likewise. So let’s let comparison go, and in it’s place practice compassion. We might just help clean up some of the messes we can’t see, if we use this approach.

Until tomorrow, dear friends, meet everyone with compassion. Trust that they are struggling, and that in showing kindness, you will be honouring Jesus.

Wordless Wednesday!

(This has been replaying itself in my head since I saw it a number of days ago. And has been running through my head as I’ve spent time today preparing a sermon on Job (not an easy book!), which will have a lot to do with how to respond to suffering. We so often just want a solution, without recognizing that God may be doing some work on us as individuals before we are ready for the solution He has planned.)

Until tomorrow, dear friends, trust that God is at work, ask yourself what change might be needed within you, and keep putting one foot in front of the other!

Seasons…

So, this arrived in my email this morning:

And I’m not even a little bit ashamed to say that I rushed right out to Starbucks to get my Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew this morning. It just so happens I was having a physically distanced, outdoor coffee with a colleague, so I had a good excuse to go get my favourite Starbucks item ever.

Now, there are those who love Pumpkin Spice, and those who hate Pumpkin Spice. I’ll give you three guesses as to which one I am.

But what I love most about the time of year when all-the-pumpkin-spiced things begin to show up in grocery stores and coffee shops is that it signals the change of a season. It means Summer (which I love) is starting to melt into Autumn (which I also love). And there is just something magic about this time in-between, when we’re not quite in Summer and not quite in Autumn.

Even in 2020, when so many things are uncertain, when anxiety hangs in the air like fog, when we struggle to know what to do or how to be, there is just something magical about seeing one season slowly change into another. It’s a kind of transformation that always tugs at my heart strings. It reminds me that nothing last forever (in both good and bad ways). It reminds me that seasons change, but God is constant. It reminds me that I don’t have as much control as I like, and though that makes me uncomfortable, it’s actually a good thing. Because God who is beyond me, IS in control. And I know I can trust Him to make all things work together for good.

So until tomorrow, dear friends, I invite you to trust God, to cast your cares on Him, to know even the seasons are in the palm of His hand.

Meme Monday!

One of the things that is super-fun about having a regular round-up of memes on my blog is that some of my friends have started sending me stuff to include. It’s great when your friends support you in so many ways. I’m blessed. So, let’s see what my friends and I have found this week!

I mean, is there a better description of 2020 out there? For me, this is it:

I wondered where that door had gone!:

This one made me laugh, but also made my heart hurt for students, teachers and parents as they look toward September:

These two just seem to go together, so I paired them up. I appreciate these wise words as we continue to make our way through unprecedented times:

No words…but sometimes you wonder…:

This just totally cracked me up:

I’m still thinking about this one:

I mean, I just don’t know:

And finally, a blessing for your day:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, keep laughing and thinking and drawing closer to God!

Transformation in the wilderness…

Before I left for my time away this summer, my dear friend and colleague, The Janet (Rev. Janet Ryu-Chan of Morningside High Park Presbyterian Church) asked if we could do a Zoom-conversational-sermon together for August 23rd. She knew that we would both be hip-deep in planning for the Fall, while also figuring out what measures and protocols to put in place if our Sessions decided we were ready to try to return to in-person worship, and doing a conversational sermon would lighten the load a bit for both of us.

We decided to discuss Romans 12:1-8, and the idea of finding transformation in the midst of the wilderness-time in which we find ourselves. So that is the focus of this worship blog post.

Let’s begin with Eric’s prelude, which is “Mazurka, Op. 7, No. 3” by Chopin:

A prayer to begin us today:

Our first hymn is #508 Your Word, O God, awoke the uncreated:

Our Scripture this Sunday is Romans 12:1-8:

Here is our conversational sermon:

And our final hymn is Hymn #491: God bless your church with strength:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, rest in the knowledge that God is busy loving you into being the person He made you to be. It may not always be easy to be transformed, but God is with each of us, every step of the way.

Worship Resources!

Time to get our hearts in the right posture for worship tomorrow. I hope these offerings help you in your spiritual journey.

Let’s begin with a song that will be referenced in tomorrow’s sermon. It also happens to be the latest video put out by one of my favourite bands ever, NEEDTOBREATHE. This song hit me like a freight train the first time I heard it. It’s message is simply that God loves us better than any of us could ever deserve:

And since I’m in a serious NEEDTOBREATHE mood now, I wanted to share this duet between Chris Tomlin and NTB’s lead singer, Bear Rinehardt:

Here is a prayer of intercession that is written by the owner of the re:Worship blog, and based in part upon tomorrow’s scripture passage. I hope it is a blessing to you:

And a couple of quotes about worship from a couple of great Christian thinkers:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, live like that – like you are touched by the presence of God Himself!