Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 3, 2017

I trust the summer warmth is bringing you pleasure and rest.

In Sunday worship we acknowledged Canada’s sesquicentennial with 150 years of popular hymns. Yes, we could still be singing! I chose a few favourites, though, that took us from 1867 to the present.

The scriptures we read were Psalm 100 (All People that on Earth do Dwell & Make a Joyful Noise), Micah 6 (Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God), John 13 (I give you a new commandment: love one another), and Psalm 72 from which the concept of Canada as a Dominion sprang. One of the Fathers of Confederation found it in his morning devotions: “Give the king your justice, O God … May he have dominion from sea to sea.”

The favourites we sing change from generation to generation. Did you know “What a Friend we have in Jesus” was written in Canada? Perhaps you grew up singing “Jesus Loves Me”. Some of our children now request the spiritual “Over My Head” and “Like a rock God is under our feet, like a starry night sky God is over our heads”. We are teaching them that God is with them everywhere.

God is with you everywhere. God is with you at all times. As you lean into the summer warmth, maybe you offer a prayer of gratitude. As you see the sun rise in the early hours, maybe you say a prayer for all God’s children everywhere. As a favourite hymn comes to mind, please know that your church holds you in love, peace, & prayer.

Many blessings,

Rev. Dr. Catherine MacLean

Thursday, March 9, 2017

March 9, 2017

I trust bright sunlight and warm friendships are keeping you cosy in these chilly March days. The season has shifted and we are coming close to Daylight Savings Time, St. Patrick’s Day, spring, and Easter. Anticipating Easter, we find ourselves in Lent now, with opportunity to reflect on life and love.

We treasure many things in this life: bright afternoons, tea with a friend, photographs of days gone by, security, health, hope.
Treasure was a theme for us Sunday. God desires good things for us: “I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places,” Isaiah reminds us in 45:3.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:2. Where is your heart these days?

Included in this letter is a small image of a treasure box. Denise tells me the image on the top means happiness! Sit with it in your hand, and call to mind what is in your heart.

Possibly it is a treasured loved one, lost to everyday life. Perhaps it’s the memory of being the treasure someone else found in their dark place when you brought friendship and hope. Maybe it’s the dilemma of aligning your treasure and your heart-ethics.

Here’s one more thing: God treasures you. You are valued for who you are, loved as you are, cherished always. Rest assured of that.

Warm, bright blessings to you,

Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 1, 2016

It was the 60th anniversary of the sanctuary in November. Joan took the cover picture for the bulletin from the church balcony. Warren Mack played a Bach piece on the organ, the choir sang “Family of Faith”, we welcomed fifteen new members, and when Jill sang the first line of the duet, Jennifer responded with the second line from up high in the balcony, from the perspective you have in Joan’s picture.

I want to remind you that you are a valuable part of this congregation. This is your spiritual home and we cherish you.

Christmas music is all around us now. The carols tell the Christmas stories. The magi observed a star at its rising, and it shone so brightly they were able to follow it. That has inspired us: You will notice a white tree on the bulletin cover. During Advent people will put stars on that tree as we sing carols. The silver stars will shine.

The heritage of faith shines in our lives:
God has always loved us. God will love us, always.

I hope the brilliance of Christmas decorations and music remind you of the star that guided the wise ones so long ago, and reassure you that the warmth of God’s light shines on your path too.

Many blessings to you,

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Thursday, October 20, 2016

October 5, 2016

The Flower Committee has a large pot of yellow and golden chrysanthemums at the front of your church. They seem to glow. When the sun shines over the choir loft and down on the flowers,
they are radiant.

You are rather like that, I think: you are made in the image of God, so you shine with God’s presence. When you are touched by
joy, you are radiant.

Here is a prayer for you:

Light within all light
Soul within all souls
Joy within all joys
Peace surrounding all peace:

At the breaking of dawn we watch for you
At the breaking of bread we pray with you
At the breaking of our hearts we call on you
At the return of joy we say thanks.

Bless our homes and our loves ones in this Thanksgiving time.
Bless our world where craven at this needy time.
Bless the harvest and the eating.
Bless the Love at table seating. Amen.

Sunday, the yellow and golden mums will be surrounded with pumpkins and maple leaves. I will include you in my silent Thanksgiving prayers.

In the name of Jesus, Love incarnate, many blessings to you.

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April 12, 2016

This Sunday the bulletin featured the St. Paul stained glass window, which is right at the front of our sanctuary, and I thought you might like a copy. You will see inside, on the order of service, that we sang “Open My Eyes that I May See”, one of our beloved heritage hymns.

Paul was blinded by the Light at his conversion. When one of the disciples, Ananias, laid hands on him, his sight was restored. Then he saw the world God loves in a different way, and he began to follow the Way of Jesus. He became the biggest missionary the world has ever known.

Paul went into many places where Christ’s love, peace and relationship-building were new. Our St. Paul’s United Church was built in a new neighbourhood, and continues to discern how the Word and the Way of Christ can bring love, peace and relationship-building in new ways.

You are part of this is hopeful and inspiring holy community of faith. Thank you for the ways you have shared God’s love over the years. I trust that love sustains you now.

This is your church and we think of you with warmth and love.

Many blessings to you,

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February 18, 2016

Valentine's Day was Sunday. With this letter you will find a bookmark we created for the occasion. The Sunday morning Welcomers gave one to every person, young old and in-between, so they that every time they opened the book they're reading, they will remember that God loves them and their church loves them.

I want you to know that you are loved, too. You are an important part of our congregation, and you are deeply valued.

When I was growing up in the church I learned that God is love. You may remember the sticker from the 1970s that teenagers like me stuck on clipboards, bookcovers, and purses. It was a psychedelic image in purple and blue and pink, with the words live and love entwined. Our lives are woven with love, through the good times, the rough times, and the ordinary times.

Live love: that is the ethic by which we live.

God is love: that is the assurance by which we live and die and live again - surrounded by, encountering, sharing, and carried by love.

Many blessings of love to your holy life,

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Friday, January 15, 2016

January 15, 2016

Perhaps you are as aware as I am these days of the play of light and dark. On cloudy days when the sun is covered as well as distant, I turn on a lamp in my study. Daily, there is increasing light on my late afternoon drives. My amaryllis seems to glow orange at suppertime against the dusk in the dining room window.

The cover picture on the bulletin I am enclosing is the pulpit banner for worship in these brightening weeks. The play of silver and navy blue is lovely, and the velvet texture is warm. This is the image in your church every Sunday morning in January.

Perhaps like me, you find darkness and light not so much opposites as complementary. Some say that darkness represents bad things. Often in our scripture, though, darkness is the time of love and hope: out of the darkness covering the earth God says “let there be light”; the shepherds kept watch over their flocks by night and were sent to the Christ Child; by sunup on Easter morning the resurrection had occurred: as they say on the east coast, “there he was, gone”. Loving, hopeful, creative, transformative things happen under cover of darkness.

We went to Yellowknife after Christmas. Our children were born there. In the north the beauty of the night sky is transformed very slowly by the rising sun, pink and orange herself. Later the daylight is absorbed by twilight and northern lights playing against the deepening darkness.

My hope for you is that in the play of light and dark this winter you are finding rest, beauty, and joy. My hope is that in the mix of our daily lives - meals, conversations, anxieties, realizations, love – that the good life God has given you feels to be part of a long fulfillment of God’s promises. May you find peace in the betwixt-and-between nature of our holy lives.

Blessings to you.