Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 31, 2012

There is a character in a Dickens novel who travels abroad and in order to be understood by people who don’t speak English, raises his voice. When comprehension doesn’t set in, the voice goes louder.
Sometimes when we have something really important to say, we deliver the message with increasing volume. Sure of our conviction and the usefulness of our information, we increase the volume.
Do you know how frustrating it is to know the answer and not have your listener get it?
Jesus’ disciples had good news to offer, a message that would save lives, mend relationships and change the world. When the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost (Acts 2) “the crowd gathered and was bewildered. Each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.”
The disciples were able to speak so the listeners could hear. Knowing how our listener hears is essential.
When you and I speak of love, joy and peace to friends, neighbours and the world, we need to be mindful of how our listeners will hear us. Sometimes that means saying very little. Often it means listening first, to discover the other’s true dilemma before we hold forth on our own solutions.
This is a challenge when we can see the speck in the other’s eye. But oh, yes, a great teacher once admonished us to remove the plank in our own first. Food for thought.


The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22, 2012

Hush! Somebody’s callin’ my name …
God whose Voice calls my name, I pray this afternoon
            for all who look for friendship
               and crave the wonder of your presence;
            for each one who seeks comfort
                and needs the support of faith;
            for the city around me
                and the wonder of community.
God whose Voice calls my name, I pray this evening
            for friends who need a word of reassurance
               that even in rough times you are never far away;
            for families who could do with a word of love
               to call them back to hope and trust; 
            for souls who crave a word of love
               to speak the serenity on which they can rebuild their lives.

God whose Voice calls my name, I pray this morning
     for each person who needs a “wake-up call” to better living
         that they may receive it with grace;
     for our governing bodies and responsible neighbours
         that we may act in compassion & with community-minded vision;
     for the single moments of each day
         that are truly the crucible for our ethics and behaviour.



The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17, 2012

This sunny morning the lilacs seem to be racing against time to produce green leaves and the ensuing promise of purple flowers. This is a tender season as buds force themselves into the light so quickly, and the canopy of green elm and ash reasserts itself against the lengthening blue in the sky.
The sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.
I didn't resonate with the biblical need for shelter from the sun and sky until I moved here, where the long days and dry heat - and cold - are so unrelenting. Beautiful but unrelenting. On the east coast, sunshine and heat are welcome respite from grey fog and summer rain. Here I have learned a different sense of sun and long evenings.

I always appreciated the part of the biblical passage that follows: and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. But now I have a fuller sense of the protection we need from the open sky. I am watching the trees on my street form a sheltering green cover, and hour by hour I see a difference.

Tender and brave, those buds are. They press against the morning air and break open with a shimmering green of hope.
I trust that in your rough, unprotected times, when the heat of life seems set to scorch you, that the promise of Revelation 7 brings you relief. I trust the gentle hand of God will wipe away the tears, and a canopy of fragrant greening hope will protect you.  


The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 2, 2012

Denise Davis Taylor began a sabbatical Sunday. She will be away from St. Paul’s for three months. Her area of study is mentoring
leadership in young adults, in these changing times. Denise is the
Minister of Faith Formation here at St. Paul’s, working with youth, young adults and families. She is also the chaplain of Faith Lift, our University of Alberta presence. Her sabbatical project suits that
ministry well.

We bid her farewell in worship and blessed her on her way. We had two lilac bushes in pots, one for her and one for us. Each Sunday morning, we will water ours in the sanctuary and say a blessing for her. As the weeks unfold, so will the leaves and our prayers. Similarly, she will think of us as she looks after her lilac.

The lilac is purple, and Denise often wears vivid blues, pinks, and purple. The leaves are heart-shaped; she certainly has a big heart, and is well loved here. As the lilac bushes begin to bud, we anticipate the beautiful blossoms and lovely fragrance. Sabbatical holds the promise of refreshment for Denise.

When you catch sight of purple or pink lilac flowers this spring, and when you notice the scent wafting through a window, please say a little prayer for Denise. This time of rest, reflection and renewal is an opportunity churches offer ministers these days, and it bears
wonderful fruit for us all.


The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean