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

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Holy Week worship

Lots of families getting together on the long weekend. I hope all the gatherings are good ones, with some rejoicing due to spring making a return by then.
For some, Easter is not complete without a trip to church. Here at Glen Rhodes we are worshipping several times: Thursday evening, Friday morning and then the big service on Easter Day (at 10:30 a.m.).
They are all different. Thursday evening remembers Jesus' last supper with his followers, his re-imagining of bread and wine after the meal to take even the death of a lamb out of the equation, then the events that followed the meal--his praying in the garden, arrest and trial. The service at Glen Rhodes includes communion.
Friday morning commemorates the events of his final day of life as Jesus of Nazareth. His suffering is known as his passion, from the old Latin wording for emotions. We will be reflecting on scripture and also the human tendency to be guided by things such as envy, anger and greed--our day to day emotions that so often get in the way of our better, more compassionate selves.
Easter is the big one--the choir in full voice, the organ adding its exultations, extra faces in the congregation. At Easter, Christians proclaim their insistence that love is stronger than fear. This is based on startling stories handed down to us through the ages about Jesus reappearing here and there when his followers got together. They thought of him no longer as Jesus, the man, but as the powerful Jewish concept of a Saviour: Messiah. Someone who comes to stick up for the little people, make things right, spread peace and justice among those oppressed by an uncaring economy.
Whether or not your weekend includes a trip to a place of worship, I hope it will have enough peace to make it restful, and enough yearning for justice in the world to get you going again when it's over.
Robin Wardlaw

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Putting Easter in the budget

There was a big crowd downstairs at the food bank again this morning. Over 120 people. In 120 minutes. Volunteers get stressed, food is stretched, people have to pay for food with their dignity--this charity model has many things against it.
The provincial budget is coming up though. Could Ontario do something better, something different to make sure all its citizens have food to eat? Perhaps some Easter thinking is in order. And we could substitute Passover, Ramadan and probably many other festivals of which I am less aware. Sharing food seems to be at the heart of many religions. Not in food banks, though. They were a good experiment, but we've had enough time now (over a generation with them) to know they aren't the answer. 
So what about provincial government? We seem to be splashing money around on various projects these last few days in the run up to the budget. Will you commit to doing something better, something more sustainable to make sure families have food here? 
Fifty-nine people from the church and the food bank just signed a joint letter asking for change and it's on it's way to you, Madame Premier, and the Minister of Finance.
And what about the rest of us? If you give to a food bank, please write a letter, too, asking that the budget address issues of extreme low income and food security. 
Giving is good. Getting some change in the system is better.

Robin Wardlaw

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Getting better

It's been a few days--I came down with a cold on the weekend. My sympathies to fellow sufferers.

My sniffling and sneezing has me thinking about illness as a metaphor. Is it a sickness in our species that leads to so much suffering and unfairness? If it is, what is the cure? Palm Sunday and Holy Week are almost here. Christians believe that the events surrounding Jesus' death reveal a sacred mystery that points to an answer.

Much of what makes life worse for people is our eagerness to get revenge, to hit back, balance the scales. One message of Easter is Jesus' refusal to meet violence, even deadly violence, with violence. Everyone in his day knew what the Roman empire was capable of. Crosses were common. Jesus would have been aware of how the empire treated people like him who challenged its ethic of might is right, winner take all.

The teaching of the cross has been of profound significance for countless generations of people suffering injustice. "Look. There is someone willing to share our suffering." It remains to be seen if the cross can also influence people with power, sensitizing them to the suffering they may be causing with their decisions. 

The Occupy movement, Idle No More and indigenous struggles all over the planet show peoples' yearning for economies and societies that sustain life. The people at Glen Rhodes are heavily invested in this concern for the planet. They are "thinking globally and acting locally" as the phrase goes. I am proud to be part of their mission.

My cold will be gone in a week or two, I'm sure. The illness that plagues humankind may take a bit longer. Every act of solidarity helps us get better.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

April Fools
Someone put one over on me this morning. A gentle joke. Perhaps you were the victim or perpetrator of a spoof today. On this, of all days, I might have been more vigilant.
We’re always trying to figure out what information to believe. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), just came out with it’s latest report. The report is much more direct than earlier ones about climate change and its consequences.
But a quick glance at, say, reports on Earth Hour observance last Saturday shows how deep and scornful is the resistance to this great threat to the world as we know it.
Toronto apparently experienced a six percent drop in electricity demand during the hour. Walking around that evening in our neighbourhood, it was clear that darkened houses were in the minority, perhaps one out of every five or six by my count.
The sceptics I read questioned both the validity of climate change science and the possibility of something such as Earth Hour doing anything about our energy use. Is the IPCC just pulling a big, multi-decade April Fool’s joke on us all? No.
These are serious scientists working away in separate disciplines, all coming to the same conclusion in thousands of studies—that our carbon emissions are already having a noticeable effect on climate, crops, sea levels, severe weather occurrences, human security and more.
I believe them when they say we have to alter our present practices, and also begin to ease the effects of climate change on those already sufferings its ravages. The question for me is, how do we get that change, especially those nations presently basing their economies on fossil fuels?
In Lent, Christians are looking hard at how they are doing in their individual lives and the big picture. It could be that many, many concerned citizens can put pressure on law makers to change our patterns of energy use, who we subsidize, how we reward those who conserve and so on.
Corporations, including insurance companies, are already figuring the costs of climate change into their strategic plans. (“How can we make and sell bottled drinks in India, for example, if affordable fresh water is becoming scarce there?” “How high to we have to put insurance rates if flooding in one province, Alberta, in one season alone cost $6B?”) Perhaps they will be an influence on decision makers.
It’s no joke. Humor may be a way to get our reluctance to see and hear what’s happening all over the world, though. Humankind has never had a situation like this. Churches, mosques, temples, schools, book clubs, unions, political parties, neighbourhood associations—it will take all of us, I’m sure.

A six percent drop in hydro for an hour is not the answer, of course. But anything that raises awareness of the issue helps. Next steps? That’s up to all of us.