Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27th, 2011

There is something for everyone this week! Bright blue skies for those who crave sunshine, mild afternoons for dog walkers, rainy sit-by-the-hearth mornings for the homebound, and enough snow to bring your delighted eight-year old self to mind: something for everyone.

There is something for every mood, too: wonder, excitement, contentment and of course grumbling.  A friend from the South observed to me that Canadians talk a lot about the weather: I guess it defines us.    

What defines us as a people of faith is the capacity for prayer. During a rough time we call on God for courage; in a moment of irritation we ask for compassion.

What would happen if while we are doing what we northern people do, which is to say wondering or grumbling about the weather, we paused in a moment of prayer? Noticing the sun over the river valley, we could pause with gratitude for beauty. Grumbling about the snow on the roof, we could offer a word of thanks for a home. Or: observing an anxious driver, we might offer a prayer for patience!

A habit of occasional prayer lifts the spirit. A moment of gratitude opens the spirit. A prayer for others connects us through the Holy Spirit, and that is blessing for all.

Peace to you on this wonder-filled day,

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January 13, 2011

Dixon Carmichael passed away on New Year’s Day. His death was unexpected – complications from surgery – and the shock in the church at his memorial service Saturday was palpable.

You may have known Dixon. We will miss him.

Dixon loved the old hymns. He had friends, some of whom are very old and others are teenagers. He cared deeply about people, about the way things are done, about taking sufficient care for the future as well as the day at hand. He held several responsible positions here at St. Paul’s. I believe his leadership came from the relationships he had with us, and the trust that engendered.

I want you to know that at St. Paul’s we expect there to be many ideas about death and the afterlife. We expect lively conversations and openness to different opinions. And I believe that these days we share are part of an everlasting and ongoing life, a wonder beyond imagining. These words from Revelation 21 give me hope for the present and faith in the future: See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more,  for the first things have passed away.’

It is bitterly sad to lose friends. It is challenging and realistic to consider our own deaths. It is part and parcel of the wonder of living that we can hold these things in our souls. And it is the nature of the church that we can offer a spiritual home to collect and sit with these realities.  

Refreshing blessings to you in this wondrous life,

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

January 5th, 2011

2011! Here we are at a fresh point in our journey. Do you feel
refreshed? Sometimes these deep dark nights can bring us rest, but sometimes they intensify our anxieties. One way to look at the dark of the new year is a passage in a journey: and certainly a journey has a destination. Our destination is the wholeness promised to us by God, the personal wholeness and the wholeness of creation. Whew!

Yet here we are, plodding along or galloping through the days or feeling dragged into tomorrow – but in any case, we are traveling into the future, a future that is God’s promise.

For more than 1000 years, pilgrims have been walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the Way of St James. It is a collection of old pilgrimage routes in Europe; some of our St. Paul’s friends tell
personal stories of it. The symbol for the pilgrim is a scallop shell.
Innkeepers could recognize religious travelers, and they in turn could identify safe welcoming places for rest and nourishment.

At St. Paul’s this Sunday, people received scallop shells after communion – bread for the journey, and a shell to put in pocket or purse as a reminder of God’s constant presence. I have one waiting for you, too.
I won’t mail it, but it is here waiting for you.

Refreshing blessings in this journey we make together,

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean