Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February 15, 2011

The light is longer these days. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon, our out-of-doors is bright. We can see where we are going.

Often the light brightens our dark thoughts and we find we are freed from worry. Sometimes the light illumines our troubles and they become stark. With that in mind I want to think with you about forgiveness this week. Do you ever feel that you have a cloud binding your heart, a dim shadow through which you can’t see clearly?  Have the hurts you have sustained driven you to a place where forgiveness seems impossible?

Regret, hurt, sorrow, anger and resentment can all surround our hearts with such shadow that we can’t see straight. Then it hurts even more, doesn’t it? Sometimes we find that there is a morning when we waken with our old light-hearted spirit. Then we remember the hurt, and the cloud settles again.

At this point I want to remind you about forgiveness and grace. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we condone the thing that hurt us. It doesn’t mean for a second that it didn’t happen. It does mean that we don’t have to live our lives directed by it. Forgiveness means we don’t always have to be peering under the cloud. We can be free.

Sometimes we have opportunities to speak to the person who caused our distress. Sometimes we don’t. That’s not my point today. My point is that we can be free. Sometimes it takes a long time. That’s where grace comes in, God’s constant company that is stronger, more deep, reliable and surprising than anything else, even than the reality of our pain. God can lift us out of the shadow when our own sense of right and wrong cannot. Good news: We are not alone. God is with us.

The light shines, and the darkness has not overcome it.


The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February 1, 2011

Good morning! I hope this letter finds you in good spirits.

Sunday after worship and lunch together we held our Annual Congregational Meeting. It was an opportunity to review the past year, and we had reports on congregational life, children’s programming, youth work, finances, property (including the leaky roof), ministerial transition, trust funds, music, the Paulettes, social justice, worship, the Foundation, a budget, our outreach at the university … everything that we are about as a congregation. We looked at some upcoming plans. We also had a memorial moment to honour people from St. Paul’s who passed away in 2010.

Do you pause occasionally to take stock in this manner? I mean in your personal life, and in the way you are part of the wider world. I take a great deal of encouragement from the words of affirmation we say in worship sometimes: We are not alone, we live in God’s world. Taking stock all on my own could be a heart-wrenching business: what difference can I make on my own? Well, some I know. But the world needs my efforts combined with yours. Together we bring hope.

I want you to know there were moments with questions in the meeting: people talked – and listened to – one another’s opinions. There were peals of happy laughter, and poignancy too as we remembered dear, departed friends. Most importantly, there was a sense that we are in this together, guided by God’s grace, and happy both to change our minds and to step up in leadership. This is an honest church, and you are part of it.

Blessings to you in this wonder-filled world,
The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean