In this together…


I have always believed that since God is an ever-present, ever-loving community (that’s what the Trinity is really all about), and since we are made in God’s image, we are made for community. We are not made to do this – any of this, life in general – alone. We are meant to be in this together.

Now, having said that I am a single girl and an introvert to boot. I spend a fair amount of time alone (or at least with just me and my animals). And the introvert in me craves that solitude. I not only like a day where it’s just me, Koski and Fatcat. I need it.

My vocation requires me to be in social situations. And don’t get me wrong – I love the times I spend with my congregation (whether as a whole or in specific groups). I need those times, too. It is good to be with people who believe in what I believe in, who share in prayer and song and relationship in general. But one of the ways I know that I am an introvert, is that when one of those social situations comes to an end, I am exhausted. And what I want most is to sit quietly in my house.

Despite this, one of the biggest gifts God has given me in Ministry, is the opportunity to minister as part of a team. It may seem a contradiction, but I work better in a team. I think better. There is someone I can turn to when I am second-guessing my thoughts or plans. When one of us is tired, the other can pick up the slack. Some weeks I get to actually sit in worship on a Sunday morning and listen to good preaching, and some weeks Geoff gets to sit and listen. We are, each of us, blessed on those weeks. I am so very thankful that we are in this together.

The following passage from Ecclesiastes is under the heading “The value of a friend,” in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Often it is read at weddings, but in this instance I mean nothing romantic or sexual by it. It is simply true that in ministry, as in most other areas of life, it is better when you don’t have to go it alone.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NRSV


I have written more than once about how difficult the work of ministry can be. And it is true, there are times when this work is back-breaking, both physically and spiritually. But today is not one of those days (in fact, this whole week has not been one of those weeks). You see, the reverse is also true. There are times when ministry is all party, party, party. There are times when my JOB is to simply be present with people and celebrate, and today has been that kind of day.

After a morning in the office, my partner in ministry, the Rev. Geoff Ross and I headed to a local golf club. There was an unbelievable feast laid out for us and other members of the clergy in Brampton, sponsored by Ward Funeral Home. The Brampton Ministerial was having its Christmas luncheon. The food was delicious and overwhelming in its abundance.

Then this evening our WMS (Women’s Missionary Society) met for their Christmas Potluck, and the members of the clergy in our congregation were invited to be there. I admit – my belly is full and I have used some of my extra Weight Watchers points today. But you know what – my soul is full, too.

At both celebrations Christmas carols were sung with great gusto. It is good to celebrate with others who share our faith.

The prophet Isaiah wrote:

The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.

Isaiah 9:2 NLT

That’s what Jesus means. We were in the dark, but now the light has come. We have gone from worry and despair to rejoicing and celebration. We are meant to live as people who know what it is like to be in the dark, and more importantly, know what it is like to be delivered from the dark.

So may your days be full of celebration. Whether marked by abundance or observed more quietly, may you rejoice with those around you. May you truly know what it means to have found deliverance and salvation.

…and the livin’ is easy…

Today has been a truly great day. It started with a long (ridiculously hot but ultimately satisfying) walk with Koski. Then my Mom and I took off together to explore “the county” (Prince Edward County, south of Belleville). We visited my favorite store in Bloomfield where I bought earrings and a ring (a vacation tradition), we shared a great lunch, wandered through pretty shops and drove through gorgeous countryside. We got home right at dinner time and had another fabulous farmhouse meal with my Dad and brother (grilled eggplant and zucchini, fresh green salad with choose-your-own-toppings, grilled chicken breast and a nice rosé).

As if all that wasn’t reason enough to be giving thanks to the Giver of All Good Gifts, I received word this evening that all went well at the Presbytery of Brampton this evening as they processed the call to the Rev. Geoff Ross for Lead Minister at St. A’s. This has been a long (though ultimately Spirit-filled and therefore beautiful) process. And I have to admit I have felt like I had my mouth taped shut (or my fingers glued together) when it comes to discussing it on my blog. I have wanted to log about so many different aspects and moments of the process. But to respect confidentiality, I have said nothing. Now as we move into the real “home stretch” of the process (all that is left is for Geoff’s Presbytery to approve the call and St. A’s to induct him), I am finally feeling free to write about it.

I guess what I most want to express is my sense of excitement when I think about this next phase in the ministry to which God has called all of us at St. A’s. I feel like God is up to something big, and I feel blessed to be part of it. I cannot wait to work with Geoff and to see what God will do as we work together in team ministry.

On that long hot walk this morning I listened to Matt Chandler’s book “The Explicit Gospel.” I was listening to a portion of the book in which Chandler does an impressive job of describing God’s greatness and why God deserves our worship. Chandler writes that it all belongs to God, every good thing is a gift straight from the Father’s hands. He writes that we don’t really do a good enough job in thanking God for all the good things in our every day. He states that we are quick to exclaim about the tragedy of a bridge collapsing (and there is nothing wrong with being moved by a tragedy), but we should be walking around amazed and thankful for all the bridges that have not collapsed.

As I listened and kept one foot moving in front of the other, I was reminded about how much I need to give thanks. After a great day like this, I am feeling the need to simply say: thank you, God, thank you.

To show it what it can be…

In my last post I mentioned that I would be leading OMEGA contemporary worship at my church on Sunday. I did that. And in my sermon I used a Joss Whedon quote from an episode of the TV show, Angel.

Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be.  It’s harsh and cruel.
That’s why there’s us. Champions.
It doesn’t matter where we come from, what we’ve done or suffered,
or even if we make a difference.
We live as though the world were as it should be,
to show it what it can be.
–Angel, “Deep Down” Season 4, Episode 1

Now I hate to quote my own sermons (feels a little too much like tooting my own horn, or patting myself on the back or something), but I have to admit, I’ve been wandering around for the past few days muttering to myself: “to show it what it can be…”

I am fascinated by the idea that, as Christians, we are called to live differently. To live as if the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be. This is, I believe, why my church’s foodbank doesn’t put any restrictions on its clients. If you show up, we will give you food. We don’t ask how many foodbanks you’ve been to in the month, when you were last here, how much of an income you have or how many mouths you have to feed. We just give away what we’ve got. Because the world SHOULD be a place where only those who are honestly in need, show up for a hand out. We live as though the world is as it should be. We do this because we believe that world CAN be a place where people are honest.

I think this idea has power. That perhaps a whole bunch of people who live as if the world were as it should be, can actually move it towards what it can be. That somehow, by the Holy Spirit at work in us and through us, just by living the way Jesus calls us to live, we can have an impact on the world we live in.

I believe that. I believe that strongly enough that I have given my life to doing all I can to live that way and to inspire others to live that way.

Give it a try this week. May you find ways to live as though the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be.

The good and the bad…

I’ve been struggling with my fitness routine lately. I’ve had some bad binge days when it comes to food and some malaise when it comes to exercising. But tonite I fought my way through the second bootcamp class of the week, and I am pleased with how I feel. I am pleased that I worked hard today – at exercise, at eating well and at my vocation.

Some days are bad. Some days are really hard. The trick, I think, is to not allow those days to be overwhelming. To not allow them to be the end of the story. Bad days definitely come, but so do good days. So do days when it is easy to work hard and live up to the goals you’ve set for yourself.

I saw this on pinterest this evening and it made me smile:

I admit, I am not usually thinking of Jesus during my workout. I’m usually thinking of oxygen and the need for more of it. But I like this picture. I believe the words written here.

And when the bad days come, I need to remember this. Because in this statement of purpose, I find hope. And all that is needed to change a bad day into a good day is hope rightly placed.


Some days I go to bed at night wondering if I have actually accomplished anything during the day that was. Today is not one of those day. I woke up early this morning. I got the shopping done for myself for the week, and also for the snacks for our contemporary service at church tomorrow. I went and shared tea with a group of ladies who are over 80 and are members at St. Andrews. They deserve to be honored for their long years on this earth and in this community of faith, and I was honored to be among them.

When I got home from that event, I spent time making some cupcakes and a chicken chilli. I got 4 loads of laundry done and I cleaned up the kitchen.  I reviewed my sermon for the contemporary service and printed the ‘final’ version of it. I even snuck a nap into this afternoon.

It feels good to have checked a number of things off of my “to do” list.

A life in the ministry is one where you spend some days doing nothing more than talking and thinking. It’s hard to judge how much is accomplished on those days. Sometimes my ‘work’ is one of listening – simply being able to hear what another is going through, and perhaps pass on some encouragement to them. In these cases, it is really hard to judge how much time and energy is expended in the work of ministry. That’s the nature of the beast. Sometimes one conversation – which took no more than 20 minutes – can feel like a full day’s hard labour.

Perhaps that is why a day like today, one in which I can check off a number of ‘tasks’ (though, admittedly, not all of them had to do with ministry), feels so good. It’s nice to have something tangible in the midst of a life that is committed to the intangible, the ethereal, the transcendent.

Today I feel accomplished. And blessed. And ready for tomorrow.

It is finished…

It has been a really busy week for me. After some time off at the beginning of the week, I have found myself rushing from one thing to the next. Today was the busiest and tomorrow will be no different. Of course, this is also a week when I am preaching. It never fails, right? (I shouldn’t complain. My friends who are not Associate Ministers face this every single week…where as, I only have to feel the sermon-crunch one-out-of-every-four.)

I got home late this evening and wanted to just go to bed, but instead I spent some time online, chatting with a friend. We ended the conversation about 20 minutes ago and I had decided to go to bed and deal with the sermon (which really only needed a read-through and a final thought after the work I put into it last night) early tomorrow morning.

But I am so pleased to say that I didn’t do that. Instead, I took a moment to run through the sermon and amazingly (the Grace of God at work, people!!) my final thought presented itself almost immediately. So now, the sermon is finished and I am thankful. It is a privilege to preach God’s word to those who belong to or are seeking for His Kingdom.

It is finished! AMEN!

Healing Power

At the end of each cycle of our Alpha-and-other-courses on Wednesday nights, we have a healing service. It is the strangest thing – it is just a simple little service. My order of service was hand written with the call to worship written in tiny, probably-only-legible-by-me writing at the top of a sheet of paper that had been torn in half. It’s not slick and professional and produced. In many ways it has less planning and effort put into it than any Sunday service.

And yet it is the most powerful thing. I am always amazed at how exhausted I am afterwards and I can only chalk it up to the fact that I have been in the presence of the risen Lord and He has been at work.

I am astounded at the people who come to this service. I love that some of them walk up to me and say “you know what I need prayer about, Rebekah” and others tell me their story for the first time. I love the honesty of the prayer requests. You know – there is just something great about someone saying plainly what their pain is. It is actually kind of cool when someone says – for example – I’ve been constipated and its very painful. There is no artfulness about that, it’s just honest. And that makes it beautiful.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In James we read: ” The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16b, NLT)

Sometimes I am just amazed at the how much honor there is in my vocation. I am honored to have been part of this service, once again.


Deep breath….

It is Holy Week. For my minister friends and I this is our second-most-busy time of the year. Christmas being the first. The funny thing is that tonite I had nothing on. Not a single meeting or practice or anything to be done for the church. I am spending tonite taking a deep breath, because the rest of the week there won’t be time to breathe.

That is the way church goes – it’s kind of feast or famine. You’re either insanely busy, or things are kind of quiet and easy. At a big church like the one where I serve, it tends to be more insanely busy than quiet most of the time.

This week we will: have our regular Wednesday night (community dinner, and classes), have a Christian Seder on Thursday night (followed by choir practice, of course), have a Good Friday service (I am very much looking forward to it!) and then have 2 services on Easter Sunday morning (one of which I am preaching). Also, on the Saturday night (not without some controversy) we will have our Mystery Dinner wrap-up party.

In all of this, Jesus will be present (yes, I believe he will be there even at the Mystery Dinner party). And my deep hope is that all who gather will notice him and draw near to him. That in the services, the songs we sing, the prayers we pray and the meals we share, we will find Jesus. We will be touched again by his life and death and resurrection.

It will be a full week. And a good one, I expect. But I am blessed to begin this week by a quietly contemplative evening at home.



Sabbath came early…

A friend asked me tonite if she had missed my blog entry from last night. I said, “No, the Sabbath just came REALLY early this week!”

It has been a busy week of meetings and the meetings have been tough ones, and I am tired. So last night I got home from a meeting, looked at the computer and thought “not possible.” I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write. I just needed a break.

Sometimes Jesus needed a break, too. He would go off on his own to pray and to think. Then he would come back to his ministry with renewed energy. He knew how important rest is when you are weary, and he didn’t apologize for taking rest when he needed it. I like that about Jesus. And not just because I’m an introvert at heart, and my time alone is precious to me. I like it because I think it is spiritually healthy – to balance times of work and times of rest, times of togetherness and times of solitude.

As I work on my physical health this year, I don’t want to leave my spiritual and emotional health in the dust. I want to seek balance in all areas of my life. Because I believe in One who came to give life and give it abundantly. And it is not possible to have an abundant life if you’re all out of balance.