Our annual Thanksgiving activity has been to drive to the Champlain Lookout. My brother comes from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and we spend time taking drives and talking and talking. It's about the only time, now that our parents have passed away, that we are together for any amount of time.
This year, like for many other people, will be different. We text and talk and Email, but it's not quite the same as having hugs, sharing time and making memories together. Keeping in touch is important to us.
Our church family is in the same family. While we hoped to have the building open in September, we were not able to meet the restrictions for re-opening. Now, as I write this, Covid-19 cases in the area are increasing again. It looks highly unlikely that we will be able to get together even for Thanksgiving.
Will we be able to hold a Christmas Eve service in the sanctuary this year? We don't know, but are aiming for it. Keep well - if everyone wore masks and kept six feet apart and stayed home when not feeling well, we might just beat this virus sooner than later.
Continue to pray, please, for the end of Covid-19.
Today Joy was the very first Kindness AUC recipient from Aylmer United Church. She received a banana loaf with cream cheese icing and our postcard. See attached photos!
Our wonderful Joy is such a caring, loving person. She has been an active part of our Church Council, UCW and various other key committees for many years. Her jams and now muffins are a welcome tasty treat at church and in the community.
For me personally Joy has been a great help and inspiration at all the church fundraisers I have organized in recent years. My favourite memory is always her in butterfly wings leading a procession of Pumpkin Walkers! ❤
We are so proud of you Joy, love you and thank you for all you do!
If you wish to recognize someone at Aylmer United Church for their kindness please send an email to this email address. I will add their name to the list. Once a week it will be posted in the Weekly Message.
One recipient per week (occasionally 2) will receive their choice of a banana loaf with cream cheese icing or a loaf of whole wheat bread.
Christianity began with a gathering of people, joining together to listen to the Word of God and to learn the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Now, it seems that many people consider themselves Christians - but not ones who congregate in the fellowship of Christ. They say they are “spiritual” and feel no need to share in a community of faith as their forefathers and foremothers no doubt did. I wonder where they go should they need a child baptized, to marry in a church building, or to have a funeral service in a church - well, “to a church, of course” they and you might well say!
I wonder though, as fewer and fewer people who say they are Christians attend and support their congregations of faith, will there be a church building and a fellowship for them to turn to? So many church buildings have already been turned into condos, homes, or are being used for other non-church purposes
Aylmer United Church is just one of many churches facing a bleak future as a congregation of faith, having old buildings and fewer and fewer people supporting the work of the church. There is a real possibility that churches as we know them may cease to exist in our lifetime!
What can you and I do about it? I want to hear your opinion. Please send me a message.
It has been a while since we entered the doors of our church building as a congregation. What will it be like when we finally return? Will you come to church? We may still have sanitizing, masks, social distancing, no singing, extra cleaning, and so forth. Will you step up and volunteer to be part of the team to make it all possible?
A congregation is like a family, lots of different people all busy with their lives, but with all pulling together, it works. However, if Mom ends up doing it all and the others just figuring that that’s what Mom’s do, things begin to fall apart.
Just think of all the things needing doing in our church family on a Sunday morning - the bulletins prepared and ready to hand out; someone (or more than one) on hand to welcome people coming in; people to take up and count the offering; sometimes Communion dishes to prepare before and to wash and put away after; coffee to make for coffee fellowship and sweets to share. So many things - I’m sure I missed quite a few.
And then there are all the things that need doing when it’s not Sunday - managing the rentals; organizing events; participating in the various ministries that do the on-going work of the church; and on and on. Sometimes it’s exhausting just thinking about it.
So, where do you fit in the life of your church community? This enforced break due to Covid-19 has kept us apart. What will our congregation be like when we finally are able to get together? Can we count on you to be there?
My previous brief reflection as to what the present pandemic can teach us ( what I might say to a congregation should I still be in active ministry,) was presented under three main categories: 1. Life and Ourselves... 2 Faith... and 3. God.
Some have indicated a ‘fleshing out’ of the ideas would be helpful, and as I try to do this it will become evident to the reader that my theological perception of humanity, the universe, and Deity is rooted in the evolutionary point of view.
Life and Ourselves
Danger, fear, and uncertainty as previously noted, are not something new to human experience but are always existentially with us and are merely being highlighted again, this time in a dramatic way by the threat of the ongoing viral pandemic.
This ‘Covid Enemy’ may be likened to the visible top of an iceberg- an impressive indicator of a hidden and always wider lurking reality which underlies our fragile existence in the form of uncertainty and threat. Every enterprise, it forcibly reminds us, is ‘up for the melting,’ revealed in the moth that flies into the flame, the tree that dies, the crop that fails and, of most concern to ourselves at the moment, the ways in which we are affected by and strive to cope with this new surprisingly malignant and tricky intruder.
The shock and difficulties we have in coming to terms with this present historical moment also reinforces another fact worth noting regarding human nature itself, namely, the extent to which we humans persistently deceive ourselves into believing in the solidity and permanency of the world and its ability to offer us permanent security when it in itself is not a ‘thing’ but a process, an ongoing energetic movement of which we are but an integral and miniscule part.
On the other hand, lest we sink into the slough of despair, there remains two factors to be celebrated::
The virus reveals the innovative courage of many people once they are faced with a truly difficult challenge- the positive realists, let’s call them.
Already humbled by the fact that the ‘Covidity’ of life itself does not allow them to demand our environment be a ‘Mr.Rogers Neighbourhood,’ they push ahead so that engaging the enemy with sacrifice and common sense and mutual cooperation (three steps ahead, two steps back ) they move ahead to a point we hope, where ‘resolution’ is achieved.
Another remarkable and positive result has come through the back door so to speak with the uncomfortable requirement for Social Isolation. Social isolation has forced us to recognize that although deprived of the regular active patterns of life, and the social warmth, entertainment and support they offer, we still can ‘stay calm and carry on’. Surprise!
Even more importantly for some, Corona Virus Isolation has brought individuals to a point where quiet self-reflection in the present moment has revealed how psychologically victimized we often allow ourselves to be, captured by that often unrecognized inner enemy- the restless demanding mind.
In the midst of regrets about the past and anxieties for the future we are brought through the new availability of time to allow ourselves to investigate what Jesus meant when he spoke about ‘’the peace that passes understanding’’ and ‘’the abundant life.’’ We recognize the dangers of our ‘Inner Covidity’ while also glimpsing new possibilities.
For people of faith, that is those who subscribe to the thought that our Big Bang universe is not simply something which ‘bangs on’ without design or perhaps even meaning, and who persist in trusting the Who/What/That Which Is/ we call God (Lets use the term ‘Intelligent Source’ for now) there is no outstanding ‘theological’ problem with Covid.
The pandemic is not elevated to some apogee of the manifestation of what we call evil. We do not honour it with that status because we know eventually it will itself die of its own virulence (should we humans allow the world to continue). Its dark side can only bring contrasting aspects of light to appear in human conscious awareness.
As suggested, we have dealt with this problem of trust before, in our wrestling with and acceptance of the uncertainties and disasters life generally presents.Despite the world’s paradoxical nature, its yin and yang, our sense of trust in a Greater Reality has not forsaken us. Nor have we lost our appreciation of the wonders of creative manifestation or the general goodness of life. We have not been overwhelmed.This, let us emphasize, is also true of many who have no formal connection with organized religion but who live with an intuitive appreciation of deeper realities. For such individuals trust in Life Itself, even if not clothed in ‘God terminology’ still remains.
Those who reject out of hand the possibility of God’s existence may well find in Covid 19 another handy opportunity to point out the gullibility of believers, not realizing that faith is often linked to doubt and that in Christianity down the centuries the attempt to reconcile the concept of a God presented as love with the chaos of a suffering world has often been addressed under the term of ‘theodicy’- and never, of course, with complete success- but we have tried and continue to do so.
Theology and philosophy can never ‘prove’ the existence of God, the God who Jesus, in his life, death and resurrection personally ‘unmasks’ in human terms.
God is revealed in Jesus because Jesus personalizes the Unimagined in a manner geared to our human perception, and speaks according to his times in terms appropriate to a dualistically oriented and mostly uneducated society. How can parables, ( the chief mode of his teachings ) be relevant without the dramatization of acting and reacting individuals who prance, as Shakespeare indicates, on the stage of life? How can the ‘character’ of Deity be maligned when the Mystical Word becomes flesh which, -Amazing Grace’ !!! we recognise in our bones as our very own when prompted by thinkers and seers to be recognised as our very DNA?
This Covid experience may well be the modern ‘tilting point’ for some, especially for those in church communities, when it comes to a recognition, re-evaluation, and acceptance of their growing evolving conceptualization of Deity. Covid reinforces our interest in and sensitivity to the Unknown out of which we emerge and into which, in acceptance and surrender, we go.
Christian preaching has long emulated St.Paul’s speech in Athens in which he notes the Greeks had an altar to an ‘unknown God’ and states that the true God is not kept as an idol in temples but is That, Who, revealed in Jesus the Christ, inhabits all things, gives life to all and is ‘’’the one in whom we live and move and have our being’.This is the God Who is Spirit, not the God as some anti Christians might suggest who needs to be justified, or as some conservative Christians would have it, to be prayed to for relief, seeking an answer provided by the Great and often apparently inadequate Interventionist.
Covid invites us to embrace the God within...this largely unknown God, the God untrammeled by the feckless mnd, the God who is not so much to be preached as lived-Unmasked for the sake of the loving of the world.
The unmasking of God’s Self goes on, and on and on ...and with it, the unmasking of you and me brothers and sisters (and all inbetween).
Tolstoy, toward the ending of his novel ‘War And Peace’ gives us words to ponder-especially at this time.
‘’ Life is everything. Life is God. And while there is life there is joy in the consciousness of the Godhead. To love life is to love God. More difficult and more blessed than all else is to love one’s life in its sufferings, in undeserved sufferings.’’
‘To which we all say…( I trust )
Bring on the sunscreen and sunglasses! It is still pretty chilly to go for a swim at the cottage, but the boaters are having a grand time. A few fish are being caught too.
I hope you all have had a happy week. I am back home to tidy up the yard and do some errands. It will be a good day on Sunday as we celebrate Father's Day. I must buy Dan and Robert a few fishing lures for a little treat. Be sure to share a compliment with the special men in your family. Maybe some of you are planning a tasty breakfast or BBQ for that day.
Congratulations to Tom Virany on the celebration of his 90th birthday this week. He is a very interesting gentleman and I am sure he has had some exciting experiences over his lifetime. Recently I read an article written by a 90 year old. Here are some of his tips for a happy life and good memories:
Before I close, I must share a little joke.
There are two ants. The baby ant asks. "Dad why don't we get coronavirus?" Dad answers "because we have ANTY BODIES."
I am returning to my cottage for the weekend. Unfortunately we do not have an Internet connections, so I will not be e-mailing for some time, but you will be in my thoughts and prayers. Enjoy your summer holiday! KEEP safe and healthy. Share a smile or some kind words with someone.
By Reverend Richard Delrome on his 60th Anniversary of entry into the Order of Ministry in the United Church of Canada, June 1, at Sherbrooke, Quebec.
The sudden realization that it is already 60 years since my ordination has prompted me to ask what I might share in the time of this present pandemic with a congregation should I be in active Ministry.
The results are:
We are taught three things: 1. Something about life and ourselves; 2. Something about faith; and 3. Something about God.
LIFE AND OURSELVES
We are reminded that human beings are at times shown to be fearful people and have every right to be so by the very nature of existence itself. Put bluntly, we are all born to die and asked spiritually to make something out of that period between our point of entry (birth) and our point of exit (death) - what we sometimes call in Christianity ‘Working out our Salvation’.
Life with COVID 19 is no different than it has ever been in terms of the threat that life itself poses; this particular unexpected circumstance merely shocks us into the realization that ‘what is, is’ and forces us to grapple with that painful reality in innovative ways.
Faith basically means trust ... acknowledgement that life, despite all, is ultimately good. So how could COVID 19 not help reassure us of that fact by virtue of its ‘badness’ because its dark side can only be seen in the light of its opposite, i.e. the ‘good’ side - just as resurrection is the positive commentary on crucifixion.
Yes God has always had something to say about masks - asking us to show transparency to others by becoming ‘unmasked‘, thereby showing our true selves as love. Jesus is God unmasked, and however we understand the seeming paradoxical nature of Deity, we are called to live that paradox all the more passionately in these difficult times.
Rev. Richard DeLorme, Vancouver, B.C. (With permission, his love and good memories)
Some thoughts from Pauline on the Broadview magazine article entitled "How to Grow a Church"
The most important aspect is the energy that circulates between all these people or groups of people. The first connection is to get plugged to the energy of God by worshiping: not necessarily evangelistic praise, but simple hymns that uplift and help us rejoice the highest power,
Taking time to read Psalms or short prayers that make us feel this energy through our body, mind and soul, taking the time to bathe in this beautiful energy. We aim to feel that harmony and convey it through the congregation. After this, we can bring this energy of encouragement and joy to the community and beyond our community through our conversations and actions. The leadership of a motivated pastor or minister that links and directs this energy working with members of the congregation that follow that flow of energy will create a healthy body of Christ. The respect for the head is essential.
My thoughts on the comparison between the United Church versus the Roman Catholic: In the United Church, the minister is chosen internally which can be a source of pressure and criticism toward his or her decisions or projects which can block energy; whereas, a Catholic priest is chosen (and hired) externally by a higher level of hierarchy.
The members seem to submit and cooperate much easier because the congregation cannot impose expectations and use pressure to obtain tangible results. We are the body of Christ and must be involved in the optimist energy. We all have a responsibility to connect to the optimist energy and spread the love and healing peace around us everywhere we go.
Aylmer United Church congregation has a telephone chain again - did you know that we used to have one? - to help keep our church family "together" while we are apart.
A number of our church family do not have the internet, so they may be unaware that we will be closed until September, the roof will be repaired, and that there are options for contributing financially (if they are not on PAR) via PAR or cheque.
It is also a good way to reach out to ensure that there are none who need help or have issues or questions and are just waiting for a friendly voice on the end of the line to chat with.
Our thanks to those who are participating in the telephone chain - a way to actively practice our Christian faith. If you haven't received a call and would like to be partnered with a caller, please contact us. .
My dear friends- the people of the Aylmer-Eardley Pastoral Charge,
My deep gratitude to you all for your participation in the End of Covenant service and the lovely retirement gathering on Sunday evening. It was a classy affair! Your words, your gifts, your hugs, your smiles and your tears touched my heart. I am forever grateful for my time in ministry with you.
I wish you God's blessing as you journey together toward your new future directions.
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.