Our Purpose and Mission Statement

Working to build God's dream. Help wanted!

We the people of Glen Rhodes United Church, are determined that our life together will be fully inclusive for people of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, differing abilities, ethnic origins and economic circumstances. Therefore, we hope that God will work in us so that we will be a sensitive congregation, willing to share our faith and gifts in language and worship, in the life and work of our church and wherever God calls us to do justice in the wider community, with compassion, fun and laughter

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Pentecost 8 Sermon - July 14, 2013 - Rev. Malcolm Spencer

Jesus had a way with stories to cause us to think. In this familiar passage of the Good Samaritan he wanted the pious lawyer to think outside the box and he wanted to describe true compassion. Samaritans were like another denomination for Jews in the first century. They often mingled in business and travel but were not liked very much for their looser view according to many rabbis. Associating good and Samaritan was unusual a bit like saying to us the Good drug dealer or the Good local polluter or the good enemy.

Often in Jesus day, like our day, the definition of neighbour was limited to actual neighbours living nearby who we have helped and they have helped us and so love your neighbour as yourself was not particularly hard if you held this limited view. This story lacks telling us who the man who was robbed, was, we assume he was a Jewish man but perhaps a Roman. The hearers would probably assume he was one of them. I once visited in the hospital a young paraplegic man who had been thrown in a ditch and badly treated by others. He came to the hospital for care and they tried to get him to respond to them I took picture books from the family and would sit with him. He began to converse about his life and sometimes he would say I want to die followed by don’t treat me like a child. He was seen by the staff as depressed but I told them that he was afraid and wanted to be seen as an adult. As a chaplain it was a tough job but the day he was sent to a more permanent institution for care we both were teary.

Most of us do not know what it is to but left on the road to die after being robbed and thrown into a ditch but we can imagine the victim to be very sad and hurting a lot. You can also imagine since many of those on the road were walking they should have seen him but they either were busy with something else or didn’t want to get involved. The priest and the Levite who should have known about compassion passed him by.  As Paul says you know yourself by your fruits what you show to other people as well.

So along comes this Samaritan with an animal, likely some business man, and sees this poor man and was moved with pity, moved with compassion. He rushes over and binds his wounds, comforts him and puts him on his animal takes him to an inn to recover and pays the innkeeper with a promise to come back and cover extra expenses. This indeed was the neighbour friend or foe it mattered little. The first step is having compassion, suffering with literally, who spurs to action to help.

Showing mercy is a sign of our responsibility to our neighbours and us.
Developing our compassion and empathy is the way Jesus saw the way into care for others, this is the gift that has much fruit. And we have seen it here in our congregation as we do much care for the neighbours in need and more we seek the ways to make sure people are cared for by the city and province that they have housing and decent pension and welfare rates. Our true test of compassion is how we can avoid setting it aside in the social sense and restrict it to the personal examples. In our society many of the issues are social the plight of our indigenous neighbours and can best be dealt with by political will to understand what they need and to work with the community to make that happen. We all know now that bullying is more hurtful that we realize and how our compassion comes late after the death of teenagers. We cannot keep separating things we need our compassion to happen as we feel pity as I know we all do. We are not weak feeling sorry or feeling sad over others troubles. We are human beings with a lot of room to love ourselves and others.

Sometimes compassion can weary us or elude us but it is the stuff of faith the first fruit of the Christian life.

Let us find new ways together to advocate for suffering others and let us keep our personal pity for ourselves others highly tuned through prayer and through looking after ourselves.

Loving and God we pray for wisdom and the love that makes us more fully human and caring. We ask this in the name of Jesus our Saviour Amen

Thursday, 11 July 2013

“Dancing Days”    July 7, 2013    by Robin Wardlaw

Pentecost 7, Year C
(2 Kings 5:1–14); Psalm 30; Galatians 6: (1–6), 7–16; Luke 10:1–11, 16–20

The Sapphires is the name of a delightful movie from Australia, based on a true story. It tells the story of a girl group in the late sixties. Not just any girl group, but four young Aboriginal women. In real life, there were two sisters and two of their cousins. In the movie, this has been changed to three sisters plus a cousin. We see what looks like the idyllic, rural life of an Aboriginal community. We see government officials coming to round up children, especially lighter-skinned children to place with white families, to save them, very much like what happened to First Nations children here for generations.
The group is discovered at a local talent show where they sing a hurtin’ country and western song, beautifully. They are clearly the best act, but racism wins the day. The MC of the event, a failed Irish musician who believes soul music is the only music, recognizes their talent, however. He proposes he be their manager and paints them a picture of big things. If they switch to soul. He explains the difference: in country and western, the songs are about love lost, hurting, but the singer has given up, and is sitting at home on the couch, whining. In soul, the songs are about love lost, but the singer is fighting back, using every ounce of their being to get back what they lost.
There are some obstacles. Mom and Dad have to be convinced. The youngest sister is both too young to leave home and a single mother. They have to impress at their audition. But the women take to soul, and gain more and more polish in their act. Kaye, the cousin from the city is light skinned, so there are old tensions between the four of them, too. When they get to Vietnam, to play for American troops, they are a hit. Racism is no longer a problem, because so many of the GIs are black. Before long, soldiers are grooving to their sound, and proposing dates, and marriage. And then home again, all glamorous. We read at the end what became of the actual members of the group, and it is impressive.
It’s a light movie, and delightful. The songs are numerous—James Brown, Otis Redding, Motown--one of those feel good trips down memory lane. Whereas the readings today are fairly intense. How would this work out with the high-powered Glen Rhodes Film Festival crowd? I need not have worried. The conversation afterwards on Tuesday a good one. The group who went to see the movie all remembered the sixties: the civil rights campaign, the war, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. One of us had been to Australia, and in 1980 it struck her as a very racist, sexist society. Visitors could still climb Ayers Rock, as the giant red rock in the middle of Australia was know then. Now it is once again called by its ancient name, Uluru, and access is restricted to First Australians, a sign of how much the country has changed.
Discussion turned to how change comes. The last three decades have seen big changes in Australia, Canada and many other places. Respect has grown for women, First Nations, sexual minorities and others. We talked about people who are like a ‘strong mountain,’ as the psalmist puts it. The oldest sister, Gail, is the tough, take-no-nonsense type, the strong mountain in the film. We marvelled at people with seemingly unwavering moral courage, the Martin Luther King, Jrs, the Bobby Kennedys and others. Gail has guilt about the way she behaved toward Kaye in childhood, and that motivates her to work for justice. Those at the after-movie discussion could relate to that. As we told stories about ourselves, we also acknowledged how costly it can be on a person to do the right thing when no one else is speaking up.
And that leads us to this wonderful advice from Paul to the Galatians. Thank goodness we have this letter after all these years. Paul talks about freedom in chapter five, for example. “You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; so don’t use your freedom in wrong ways, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Gal. 5:13-14) And then this instruction in chapter six about bearing one another’s burdens. This feels a little easier than being a strong mountain when all around are quaking, but bearing burdens has its own challenges.
How do you even do this, I wanted to know? You’ve heard that old song, “You’ve got to walk that lonesome valley. You’ve got to walk it by yourself. Oh, nobody else, can walk it for you. You got to walk it by yourself.” That rings true many days, doesn’t it? So what Paul is imagining here? How can Holy Love turn mourning into dancing? Well, said someone after the movie, It is good to just listen, be with the person with the burden. That can really help. Feels better than a lonesome valley. That’s the great thing about a church said somebody else—there is someone around for burden bearing, burden sharing.
And that took the conversation back to the social dimension. How wonderful it was that when people working to make United Churches more affirming for gay and lesbian people didn’t stop there. An Affirming church should affirm everyone, they said, whether the issue is orientation, financial well being or any other difference. “They realized what it is like to be on your own. They didn’t want that to happen to anyone else.”
There is still a way to go in society—Australia, Canadian, many societies—before  everyone is fully accepted and the wounds of the past have been healed. All churches, including this one can be more affirming of all people than they already are. Many people are struggling, with things suffered in childhood, with more recent wounds. There are many burdens still to be borne, much ministry to do.
When Jesus sent those people out two by two to tell the story of the reign of God and minister to people, did they think that might wrap things up? A couple of weeks, three at the outside, and change is gonna come? Do we? Philip Berrigan, the radical American pacifist priest, wrote a book called Ten Commandments for the Long Haul. It’s about sustaining hope, sustaining the spirit for the ongoing struggle.
Caring for one another is a long haul. So is the struggle for social justice. Sometimes it feels like that in our own lives, too. We work and wait, wait and work for happiness, or even a little peace in our souls, and it still seems elusive. “Let us not grow weary in well-doing,” says Paul, “for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” In due season. If we do not lose heart. “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially those in the household of faith.” Jesus would probably say, Especially those who are not in the household of faith, but nevermind. What we reap is satisfaction, although that makes it sound meagre. This is the deepest kind of satisfaction, the one in which we feel our souls mingled with the Holy Spirit.
We need a break now and then, time to get our dancing legs rested up. There is never a shortage of good to do, but if we’re going to make them dancing days, we need some nature therapy, time with a friend who knows how to listen, a little soul music to perk us up. Take the time. Get a sabbath.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Pride Sunday by Rev. Warren Schell June 23, 2013

 Loving God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our strength and redeemer.  Amen.

A number of years ago John and I went to Nova Scotia / PEI for our holidays.  We stayed at the Rainbow Lodge just outside Charlottetown.  I had been invited by our host to preach the PRIDE service that year in the Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown---go figure.

Communion, and I always state it’s Christ’s table and ALL are welcome and, for some reason went on about denomination not mattering, personality not mattering, GENDER not mattering.

I asked for some volunteers to come and help with serving.  All men.   I said this is not going to happen until I have at least one woman here as well.  We are gender inclusive too!

An awkward silence, but a good awkward.  A woman comes forward.

At the end of the service, she came to me.  She was quietly weeping.  “I was raised Roman Catholic and have been waiting all my life to do what you allowed me to do today.”  I cried with her and thanked God for giving her what she needed to be fed.

That is what PRIDE is all about for me.  ACCEPTANCE.  The entire GLBTQTQAetc&H:  Which roughly translates into:  gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, two spirited, questioning, asexual, etc. [for whoever isn’t covered] AND our heterosexual friends as well.
In A Blessing In Disguise Daphne Rose Kisyma writes of her father’s dying of colon cancer and her journey with him.

He was 65, a college professor loved by his students.

“I often sat with him in his room watching the mysterious unwinding of his body from his soul.”

One of his favourite students arrived---a young man he had befriended, offering the unconditional love his father had been incapable of.

He was in tears because he had forgot the present he had for this cherished teacher.

Daphne’s dad said, in a voice filled with love, “You have brought yourself, you are the gift.”

“You have brought yourself, you are the gift.”

Those eight words changed a young man’s life forever.  They changed Daphne.  They changed me and I pray they change you.

“You have brought yourself, you are the gift.”

The self, the TRUE self is what we seek to embrace.

We are celebrating PRIDE Sunday when we welcome our God given sexuality in whatever form we may choose to express it.

But our sexuality is of no meaning if we are not true in ALL aspects of our being because only then---warts and all---can we truly call ourselves liberated.

It took me nearly sixty years to fully embrace all aspects of my being.  And I have learned that when you are real there is room for real love.  Your brothers and sisters rejoice.

But be forewarned:  You will drive people who aren’t real crazy.

BUT if you, to the best of your abilities, bring your true self to the table you become the vessel in which all others can find room and home.

Rev. Cheri DiNovo was one of my classmates at Emmanuel College.  She actually married the first same sex couple---two lesbians---who were from Central America.

Their first names were very uncommon by Canadian standards and the gender box was missed when the license was processed at Thunder Bay.  It was legal.

The June after that John and I were going to march in our first PRIDE.  We met up with Cheri and she was stressed.  She needed the women she had married for a photo op prior to the start of the parade.

Cheri gets things done.  “Warren / John get in the convertible.  I need shots of a same sex couple and I’m not worrying about gender.”

So we get in, the pictures get taken, and I’m thinking:
“Oh my God!  My pastoral charge south of Hamilton will have a bird!  Everyone will know!  [Internalized homophobia is freaky.  John had, at this point been living with me in the manse for over 2 years!!!]

In retrospect the only person not knowing and naming I was queer was me!!!

Our old testament reading speaks volumes to me.  How each of us could be like Joseph, away from family and when re-connected not even acknowledged or recognized.

Shepherds stink.  In ancient times they were with their flocks 24/7.  They didn’t check into the local B&B each evening or the Dessert Hilton.  Bathing was a luxury unknown to them.

Joseph is now years older.  Wiser.  Perfumed, kohl around his eyes, a Pharonic headdress because he was, after all, second only to Pharaoh.  Blindingly white Egyptian linen, enough jewels to boggle even our eyes today.

They didn’t know their own brother because of the packaging.

My husband John worked for the federal government.  A number of years ago he was at a GLBT Union event in Vancouver.

There was a “Meet & Greet” the first evening.  As he entered the room he noticed a tall woman, dressed in full leathers including a leather cowboy hat, LOTS of tattoos and LOTS of piercings.

He walked around her and got a drink.

The second morning the head co-ordinator of the event asked at the start of the day’s business how folks were doing.

The leather clad, pierced, tattooed woman stood and said:  “I came here expecting to be welcomed and not judged.  Since my arrival NO ONE has spoken to me.”

John can not re-tell this story without tears.  The entire room gasped.

What if she had been Joseph?

What if she had been the Christ?

The question and the challenge is when do we not know or acknowledge our own brother or sister because they look TOO Fabulous / or have too many piercings / or too dark or too light a complexion.  They speak differently.  They are from the “wrong” part of town.

When I was 4 [1950!!!]Ceven I shudder at how long ago that wasCI wanted a bride doll for Christmas.  I got up Christmas morning knowing there wasn=t a chance.  Boys don=t get dolls.  I stepped into the living room and it was a movie moment.  Zoom lens.  Bride Doll!!  Full screen.  Beautiful dress.  Blonde.

I looked at mom and she was smiling.  Only child and the kid was happy.

I looked at my dad and knew instantly that I had disappointed him.  Somehow there was something wrong with me.

The only other person who saw her was Michelle, my friend who had a cottage across the river.

It=s now been awhile.  I was at my Spiritual director=s and was telling the bride doll story.  She stopped me cold and said, Awhere did you keep her.@ 

In the top drawer of my dresser.  I never took her out unless I was alone.@

And Flora, God love her, moved me into a guided mediation.  AGo back in time.  Picture your room.  Open the drawer.  Take her out.  Close the drawer.  Let her be.@

I visualized pulling the drawer.  Picking her up and closing it for good.

Another high drama moment of intense sobbing.

I went straight from there to Zeller=s being a frugal drama queen and bought a bride doll and brought her home and put her up on the mantle.  Nearly hid her but resisted.

That weekend we were up at Les & Bill=s and as I walked into the kitchen saw a box suspiciously familiar with my name on it.

A brunette to go with my blond vision of loveliness.

I'm the only person in our circle with two lesbians in bridal drag on the mantle.

Affirmation!  Acceptance!  Pride!