The mission of Squamish United Church is "To be an inclusive community serving God's world." As a church together we seek to love God and neighbour with all our heart, soul and mind. We hope this blog enriches you on your journey of life.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Day Three

Activity 1

Make an Advent prayer chain (A version of an advent calendar). Use construction paper cut into 14 strips. Write a prayer concern on each strip. Use tape or staple the first strip into a circle. Take the second strip and insert it into the first. Continue until you have a chain. Today you would begin with the first strip and then each day you would pray a prayer from the chain.

Activity 2

A Time of Centering prayer will be held for all to participate in at 7:30pm at Squamish United Church


Who is your life is an example of someone who lives in hope? How has that person effected you life?

I have taken some time to do a few things today. I have listened to Mardi Tindal (UCC Moderator) advent message. I invite you to do the same.

I appreciate her reminder for us to slow down and reflect during the season.
That is why I have given us the opportunity to join together tonight in centering prayer.

When I consider the question of an example of someone who lives in hope. My grandfather is the first who comes to mind. He was always forward looking. He always believed the best in people and he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that things would work out and no matter how bad it got we would make it together. When I get discouraged or when I wonder if I am doing the right things in life I always think of Grandpa. His example has strengthened me more times than I can remember. His faith, commitment and strength challenge me to live the best I can, being who God created me to be.
Who are people of hope for you?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday November 29th - Second Day of Advent

Traditionally in the first week of Advent we live into hope. I invite you this week to look to the hope your faith and life gives you. How does it assist you in living in that which you do not know. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

  • Read through the scripture below from todays lectionary.
  • Take a moment in prayer. What word or phrase stands out for you?
  • Read and pray again. What hope does it bring? How could it apply to your life today?

Isaiah 2:1-5 (The Message)

“The Message Isaiah got regarding Judah and Jerusalem: There's a day coming when the mountain of God's House

Will be The Mountain— solid, towering over all mountains.

All nations will river toward it,

people from all over set out for it.

They'll say, "Come, let's climb God's Mountain,

go to the House of the God of Jacob.

He'll show us the way he works

so we can live the way we're made."

Zion's the source of the revelation.

God's Message comes from Jerusalem.

He'll settle things fairly between nations.

He'll make things right between many peoples.

They'll turn their swords into shovels, their spears into hoes.

No more will nation fight nation; they won't play war anymore.

Come, family of Jacob, let's live in the light of God.

Closing Prayer

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
Come, O Lord, and send us your light.
O come, O come, Immanuel.
Come and bring the light of God.
Come and walk among us.
Be our Savior and our Friend.
O come, O come, Immanuel.
Come to bring us your peace.

What stood out for me were the phrases:
"All nations will river toward it"
"He'll show us the way he works"

I find hope in these words. I imagine a world rushing like a river towards peace and justice. I envision people desiring to live out of how we have been created to be - loving God and one another.
That gives me deep hope - O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Friday, November 26, 2010

How then Shall We Pray? - Luke 11:1-13

For the season of Advent I have created for us as a congregation a Spiritual Practice Advent Calendar. You can pick up your calendar in the church office and I will also post here on the blog. I thought I would begin with excerpts of a sermon I preached in July on my struggle with prayer. I am going to offer more of the struggle part of my sermon because I know I am not alone. Feel free to comment and join the practices with us.

How Then Shall We Pray? - Luke 11:1-13

I envy people who pray well. Or who have the kind of faith that always believes in prayer. Now that might be shocking for you to hear come out of your ministers mouth but it is one of my deep dark secrets...

I have tried to become a certain kind of prayer more than once. I have attempted to be holy like Luther and others and get up early in the morning just to pray. But in all honesty I’m not a morning person so unless I don’t have to be to work or something else early I really don’t want to get busy before I have to - so the prayer times quickly slip into something I’m not sure many would count as holy.

I have attempted to come into my office every morning and begin in silent prayer but quickly I can get interrupted or distracted or realize I forgot to start there (and then I start praying just because I feel guilty and well - then I think that’s what it is supposed to be about and...)

I have read the books, I have tried the formats. I have heard what proper prayer looks like and how to get results. I have journaled, I have done prayer walks, I have done silent retreats....and the list goes on.

There is a lot of shame in this for me because my mother and my brother are prayers. They both get up every morning and take time in prayer and reading like every good Christian should. In fact my mom used to say every time I had a struggle “Just pray about it” until one day I snapped (Like only a daughter does to her mother). “Mom if it were that easy I wouldn’t have called you to talk about it.”

And yes this happened after I received the title of Reverend...

Now that I have gotten that off my chest all you ‘prayers’ out there can say a prayer for me. Because the greatest struggle I find with prayer being an achiever like I am is that if I don’t get the result I want I am convinced I have done it all wrong. The struggle with prayer formulas is that if the prayer doesn’t work then there appears to be only two options: there is something wrong with me and/or my praying, or there is something wrong with God... If you are someone who has written off faith and religion you most likely have decided there is something wrong with God. If you are a faithful church goer or person of faith then when your prayer doesn’t work you are more likely to blame yourself.

I know that people say God gives us three answers to our prayers which are “yes” “no” or “maybe” but even that confuses me because scripture clearly says “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.” So why is it then when I ask even for good things - healing for a friend, comfort for a person who is depressed, or something for myself - why would God ever say no to those things?

I have come to discover of myself that when I start thinking that way I have forgotten the purpose of prayer. And to be honest I think this struggle I have with prayer just might be God given - because I find myself praying all the more as I seek to understand prayer more and to be connected with God more. I find myself eager to try new spiritual practices all the time. Maybe that is what this parable is about - constant seeking to be in tune with The Holy...

I fully believe in prayer and it may sound confusing but praying without ceasing has freed me up to know that I actually can pray. It has freed me up to wake up in the mornings as pray in between the snooze alarm, or in the shower, or on my walk, or as I journal - but not just with a certain formula or just for me - for everything and moment I encounter. It means for me that when I feel led to pray when I get into the office in the morning I just do even though I have not done it every day routinely...

Douglas John hall wrote “The object of prayer Christianly understood, is not so much to lose oneself in the contemplation of the Divine as to find oneself. to become - so far as possible, who one is. Dependent, guilty, lost and vulnerable... Because the one to whom we pray is not ordinary...but glorious in loving, we are able sometimes through our most honest acts of prayer to find that our very weakness is the occasion for encounter with the Source of new strength.”

So weather you feel like you know how to pray or not. You are invited to pray or join us in a spiritual practice over the next weeks. Weather you think you pray or not I believe you do - in moments of beauty, awe and despair, in moments of loneliness, and joy acknowledge the spirit with you and you will know that you too are praying.


Thursday, November 4, 2010


My mantra for this month has become "be attentive."
After spending a week at the "Sowing Promise, Growing Leaders" event a few weeks back I became aware once again that I was caught up in the 'rat race' of life. I love the work I do here at Squamish United Church and I am honoured to work with such a wonderful group of people but even in the church we can get caught up in the rush.
As a member of the clergy Spiritual Care Network team I have entered into a Spiritual Practice challenge with 10 other colleagues. We are holding one another accountable to spending time in sacred practice every day for 40 days. The gift this has given me is attentiveness. I have become more aware of my surroundings, my colleagues, my work, my spirit, and my God. I have found I am no longer trying to figure out how to squeeze in time for prayer or practice rather I am longing for it. I have been refreshed and reaffirmed in the need to spend time with the Holy.
In the sunny days of October and November I have found myself taking glorious prayer walks in which I am blessed by the healing beauty of creation, as well as the spirit of calm one finds when they take the time to give things to God. I am more attentive to my breath and the life it gives. I have also become more aware of others and the struggles we all face. Two quotes from Peter Short are assisting me in being more attentive to others. As I look into the faces of those I meet I recall "Behind every face there is a soul at work" and soon thereafter I am reminded to "never look down on a struggle for life."

A few weeks back I asked folks on a Sunday morning what spiritual practices they engage in. I would love to hear from you what your practice is now or has been in the past. If you would like to consider joining me in the Advent season I will be offering an opportunity for SUC folks to engage in some new practices together, or on their own.
Together let us take time with The Holy.