One Year.

One year ago today I wrote the first “Strength and Peace Blog.” At that point I thought I was going to be blogging for a few weeks or a month to keep up the spirits of the faithful people of Graceview Presbyterian. I never for a second thought I’d still be at it a year later. None of us thought that at the beginning.

None of us could have imagined that a year later we’d still be keeping our distance and – in Toronto’s case, anyway – living in lockdown. So I just want to share a couple of things that I have found meaningful as I’ve reflected on this pandemic year.

First of all, Nadia Bolz-Weber has been writing prayers every Sunday and you can sign up here to receive them by email. Her turn of phrase is always fresh and meaningful. I often feel like she’s saying what I was feeling. This past Sunday’s prayer was especially meaningful to me:

Dear God who made us all,

A year ago we did not know that we were about to learn: 

what we could lose and somehow live anyway

where we would find comfort and where it would elude us

whose lives matter to whom

why we have kitchens in our homes.

In mid-March 2020 all I knew for sure is that 

hoarding toilet paper doesn’t make you safe – it just makes you selfish.

But God, it feels like the world is about to open back up.  

And I’m both thrilled and kind of scared about that. 

Because I’m not who I was a year ago. 

I want so badly

to hug my friends again

and laugh like hell again

and have amazing conversations again

and yet I am not sure how long I could do any of this before crying or just getting really quiet. My emotional protective gear has worn so thin, and grief just leaks out everywhere now.

I am so afraid that I will never be who I once was. And I am also afraid that I will be.

(Not to mention, I’m not entirely clear what size jeans I wear as the me I am now)

And yet, when I quiet my anxious thoughts, I start to suspect that I am now closer to the me you have always known and always loved. So help me trust that, Lord. 

As things change, help us be gentle with ourselves and with each other. We are all wearing newborn skin right now.  

Amen.

-Nadia Bolz-Weber, Sunday Prayers for March 14, 2021

And second, this old song from Rich Mullins which popped into my head today out of nowhere and seems quite apropos. This is “Hold Me, Jesus”:

Dear friends, until tomorrow – may He be your Prince of Peace.

Meme Monday!

But…seriously!:

Soooo true:

Every. Single. Time.:

This makes me think of my Mom’s doggos….Koski is gentle with her toys these days:

Totally cracked me up (and reminds me of the time I had Aly in her carrier in a mall while her Mom ran to do an errand, the lady in the shop I was in looked at Aly and said, “She’s adorable!” I replied, “Thanks, she’s not mine!” 😂🤣😂😳😳😳):

The curse of the grammatically correct:

Math humor (since Pi Day was yesterday):

And more math humor:

This lovely word of faith:

And finally, this blessing for your day:

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

Worship Resources!

Tomorrow marks the fourth Sunday of Lent. The service will focus on the fourth commandment in which God commands us to keep the Sabbath holy – to do so by resting. So I couldn’t resist the impulse to share Andrew Peterson’s, Rest Easy (which says we can rest easy that God loves us):

The folks at illustratedministry.com have put out colouring page prayers to mark the one year anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a Global Pandemic. I’ll be sharing those pages for the next few weeks in the Worship Resources. Why not print one out, colour it and mail it to a friend or family member?

Here is the file for the colouring page:

And the text of prayer says:

Wonder Worker,
In this year when everything changed,
when we felt worried and weary,
when we wailed and we wondered,
you gave us a promise…
Nothing can separate us from your love.
And nothing will be wasted.
With you at work,
light, life, love, and liberation
always win.
Amen.

A couple of thoughts on resting in God:

And finally, just because it’s one of my favourite hymns (and I love a reimagined hymn that ends a more contemporary feel), here is Chris Tomlin’s Come Thou Fount (I will Sing):

Until tomorrow, dear friends, may you rest in God!

Let’s Talk, again…

In January Canada observed Bell Let’s Talk Day – a day which seeks to raise funds and awareness for mental health issues. During the pandemic we all know that mental health has worsened. None of us were made to spend a year largely without friends, family, social gatherings, hair cuts, gyms…all those things that contribute to positive mental health and which lockdown has stolen from us.

The longer it goes, the harder it gets.

At Presbytery Zoom this week, a colleague shared this song during the devotional time, “Truth Be Told” by Matthew West:

And – you guessed it – I felt that in my soul. Too often this year I’ve said I’m ok when I’m not. And maybe you feel just the same.

So today I’m praying for anyone who has said “I’m ok” when they are not.

At that same Presbytery devotional time, Psalm 142 was read. It reassured me that the people of God have always gone through difficult times. And in the worst of it, God is our refuge.

Psalm 142

I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
    no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
    no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry,
    for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
    for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
    that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
    because of your goodness to me.

Dear friends, may you know that God is your refuge, may God be your strength and your portion in the land of the living.

Lenten fasting (with a twist)…

One of the things I’ve learned over the past decade-plus of life in full-time ministry, is how much we have to learn from other practices of Christianity. We may not do things the same way, we may have differences in the things that our practice of faith focusses on, we may not have the same songs or prayers that we use in worship, but I believe that there is much more that binds us together than that which separates us.

So I was delighted to find this post from Pope Francis about Lent:

Theres a lot to digest there, but even if you just choose to do one of these things, I believe it would be a fitting and beautiful way to mark the season of Lent. So I encourage you to do that – pick one or two and make an attempt at it! And see how God’s presence is felt in your life.

Until tomorrow, dear friends, may you choose the ways of Jesus (ie the second part of every line in the graphic above)!

Meme Monday!

Must admit, I’m feeling this way some days:

For my fellow SC fans:

For my animal lovers (I sometimes say I’m having a therapy session when Koski lays on top of me and we take a nap!):

One of my friends insists that puns are a Canadian thing. I just go with it:

I mean, he was a human toddler:

Totally. You could also show a mountain of dirty dishes, which is my bigger struggle these days:

My Mom has been complaining about trying to open produce bags at the grocery store for a while now:

This lovely piece of advice:

Snort!:

And finally, this blessing for your day:

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

Back to Basics – Honouring God

Welcome to Sunday Worship for the third Sunday of Lent. This week we begin a look at the Ten Commandments and we celebrate Communion (so make sure you gather your elements – all you need is something to drink and something to eat!). Here is the virtual worship service:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, may you know God’s presence in your life!