How was church today?

Luce NDs

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I know Grandad (UCCan Minister for over 50 years and involved with theological education and ministry at GC Executive level) thought a decade was enough. Into the end, though, it is going to last as long as the minister and congregation are happy, I guess.
Depends on rich comfortability factions ... they tend to be stern on keeping things consolidated as constitutional crocs ...
 

revjohn

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This morning will be my first service presiding at George Street United Church. I visited once back in 2017.

The Church has gone through a period of Intentional Interim Ministry after a failed Pastoral Relationship and much internal strife.

Powderkeg?

Minefield?

Guess I'll find out during the fire baton tap dance number I have planned for the sermon.
 

Redbaron

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This is also my first Sunday to lead worship in a new charge. So far as I can tell, the charge is relatively healthy, so not expecting any fireworks, at least not now.
 

GeoFee

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Have been with folk at the Big Red Church for just over a year. We are working with our neighbours to cultivate health and happiness in the neighbourhood. My message this morning was about about cultivating health and happiness in our world. Not as an option... as an imperative.

 

Mendalla

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Went to Siloam United this morning. Can't even remember the sermon now. Luke 14:something something was the text. Ended with "Lift High the Cross" and God, that hymn needs to die with Christendom. "TIll all the world adores His holy name." Really? There was a good anthem at the beginning. Something contemporary that I haven't heard before. In the end, I came away not feeling like I belonged there. Not sure what's changed there, because I found that church more to my liking on past visits. They actually look like they are doing well, with a fairly good turnout in the congregation and a good-sized choir. They did take in members from another church a couple years ago (Arva United closed) so maybe that swelled their ranks or something.

I am thinking that I may be remaining unchurched. Whatever need I used to feel around being in a church isn't really niggling at me anymore and, honestly, I really need to be in a UU church. God and Christ aren't a thing with me right now and even the progressive UCCan around here drip with them. Perhaps I'll try going back again. Today would have been ingathering so the "regular season" should be underway now.
 
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Mrs.Anteater

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Went to Siloam United this morning. Can't even remember the sermon now. Luke 14:something something was the text. Ended with "Lift High the Cross" and God, that hymn needs to die with Christendom. "TIll all the world adores His holy name." Really? There was a good anthem at the beginning. Something contemporary that I haven't heard before. In the end, I came away not feeling like I belonged there. Not sure what's changed there, because I found that church more to my liking on past visits. They actually look like they are doing well, with a fairly good turnout in the congregation and a good-sized choir. They did take in members from another church a couple years ago (Arva United closed) so maybe that swelled their ranks or something.
Sounds like you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into. May you have changed and not them?
After having been at the Quakers for a couple of years, I feel strongly that I just can’t do standard minister led worship anymore.
 

Mendalla

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Sounds like you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into. May you have changed and not them?
After having been at the Quakers for a couple of years, I feel strongly that I just can’t do standard minister led worship anymore.
Could be. It's been probably 3 or 4 years now so one or both of us could have changed. It's just that I recall them as feeling much more progressive in the past. And they are doing a study of Spong's latest, so that progressive element still seems to be present. I just didn't feel it in the service. It felt very old school theologically, even if some of the music was fairly contemporary.

I should look up the local Quakers, I guess. I had good intentions about checking them out many, many years ago when one of my wife's colleagues at the university (he taught some of my classmates but I never had him) was a Quaker.
 

Mendalla

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Interesting. THere's no meeting in London itself. There are two nearby, in Coldstream (west of me) and Sparta (fairly far South, probably too far), but none in the city.
 

Mrs.Anteater

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Could be. It's been probably 3 or 4 years now so one or both of us could have changed. It's just that I recall them as feeling much more progressive in the past. And they are doing a study of Spong's latest, so that progressive element still seems to be present. I just didn't feel it in the service. It felt very old school , even if some of the music was fairly contemporary.

I should look up the local Quakers, I guess. I had good intentions about checking them out many, many years ago when one of my wife's colleagues at the university (he taught some of my classmates but I never had him) was a Quaker.
The nice thing about Quakers is that there is nobody to blame if you don’t like the service. :sneaky:
 

revjohn

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I think we had a good start this morning.

A cruise ship docked in the harbour and as a result, we had a number of visitors from Germany wander in before this morning's worship.

I was up to speed on most information about the congregation and the building. Got stumped on how many pipes in the organ. Turns out it is 265.

They were still wandering in and out as we began the service so that was different.

Chose to preach from Luke 14: 25-32 which includes some of Jesus' "hard words" about us not being able to come to him unless we hate spouses, parents, children, and our very selves.

We did not sing lift high the cross. We did sing, Will You Come And Follow Me? Jesus Calls Us, Jesus You Have Come To The Lakeshore, Take Up Your Cross and All The Way My Saviour Leads Me.

The text was a bit of a challenge to me this morning. My dad passed away on Monday while I was driving from St. Anthony to Logy Bay. Those who pay attention to things will know that we were not terribly close. He made choices befitting an alcoholic and a relationship with me was not one of them. I accepted that years ago and as a result, mourned that loss much earlier. His death on Monday (or the news of his death they estimate he was dead in his apartment for some days before the Landlord let herself in and found him) brought closure to the fact that there will be no reconciliation in this life for the two of us.

I have been asked by the family to preside over the funeral (probably the only way to ensure my getting on a plane and flying back) so have been working on that and reflecting on professional detachment at the same time.

At any rate the text this morning also includes the words of Jesus claiming that unless I hate my father I cannot participate in Christ's coming kingdom. It would have been easy to hate my dad simply because he wasn't equal to the task of being a parent. There is no peace or salvation in hate which is easily self-justified. Not to mention it appears to be at odds with the whole loving our neighbour commandment.

Is Jesus being hyperbolic? I believe so.

I think that what is more on point than a literal hatred of self and gifts God has given (like family) is an attitude like Paul's where he proclaims everything that he formerly valued to be rubbish compared to the glory of Christ. Which is why setting the text into the context of picking up our cross makes sense.

While the cross is a mode of execution and the only people who carried a cross were those destined to die on it there is more to the cross than its ability to destroy a human body. It was a practice of the Romans to label everyone sentenced to the cross. The label you got was generally the crime you were charged with. So, if I were charged with treason when I was hung on my cross they would never display my name, they would functionally rename me "Treason." It drives home the message, "This is what traitors deserve."

To go to the cross means to have everything about you stripped away. The cross denies you the opportunity to be identified as a loving husband or dutiful child or sufficient parent. It forces you to become the embodiment of that which is reviled. On the cross, Christ becomes sin for us, not just any sin, our own sin.

Because it is Christianity it doesn't end with us carrying our cross or even us dying on our crosses. It ends with us being resurrected from the death brought on by our proximity to our crosses.

I hear a number of Christians in churches saying, "I've done my part." as if they are now exempted from Christian service. I think Christ takes issue with that and some of our hymnody suggests that. One of our ancient hymns includes the line, "How can I give a lesser sacrifice when Jesus gave his all?" In the text this morning Jesus clearly is calling us to our own deaths. To acknowledge that our parents, spouses, and children cannot compare to the surpassing glory of Christ Jesus and finding our lives bound to him.

The danger to that is enforced busyness which kills with less mercy than does the cross. We need to hold service in tension with Sabbath.

So it was not necessarily a warm-fuzzy and friendly first sermon out of the gate.

That said, most commented that they found the sermon thought-provoking (great if it actually leads to action) and after a period of intentional interim ministry they seem eager to get back to the business of serving the neighbourhood rather than ticking the boxes of the institutional concerns.

They have a brand spanking new governance model for me to try and comprehend. It should be so much easier since the denomination thought a new governance model would also be a useful idea. Tomorrow night will be the first time they meet under their new governance model. I'll have to work on my game face. I'm sure it will be entertaining.

And we finished the morning with cake.

Not that I am a pushover for sweets or anything.
 

Mendalla

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Chose to preach from Luke 14: 25-32 which includes some of Jesus' "hard words" about us not being able to come to him unless we hate spouses, parents, children, and our very selves.
That's the passage I was trying to remember in my post. Thanks for the memory jog. The sermon was basically on how this passage doesn't necessarily mean to "hate" our family in the modern sense of being hostile to them, but to give God the higher priority.

My dad passed away on Monday while I was driving from St. Anthony to Logy Bay. Those who pay attention to things will know that we were not terribly close.
That sounds like a really tough one. Vibes and strength to you as you work through this.
 

revjohn

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Mendalla said:
That's the passage I was trying to remember in my post. Thanks for the memory jog. The sermon was basically on how this passage doesn't necessarily mean to "hate" our family in the modern sense of being hostile to them, but to give God the higher priority.
I believe that is the emphasis of the text

Mendalla said:
That sounds like a really tough one. Vibes and strength to you as you work through this.
It is complicated.

I find myself not really having more reason to mourn. I pursued a relationship with my dad when we returned to Brantford in 2005 after having been four years in BC and seven years in NL I made sure that my dad had an opportunity to meet the grandkids. It was painful to watch a man who didn't know how to be a parent try to be a grand-parent. Especially when the kids would have been happy with literally anything since their experience of what grandparents were was limited.

Clearly the event made him uncomfortable so I never forced a repeat. He was always welcome to come an try it again. He chose not to.

I visited him regularly to see how he was and to keep him up to speed on the family. It was a struggle or him to remember the names of his grandchildren. Part of that is the effects of alcohol over the years. It is not the friend that breweries and distilleries claim. Of course, any friendship that is abused comes with consequences.

Eventually, it became obvious that no matter what he might say he wanted he simply was unable/unwilling to invest in reconciliation and I couldn't carry his burden in that process. So I made sure that I would not repeat his mistakes with my family. I take no joy in saying that I am who I am because I rejected who he was.

I don't hate him. I did love him. I respected his choices no matter how much they hurt me at the time.

So he has been like one dead for years. A person I remember but made no more memories with.

I found that tremendously sad.

Now he is dead and that is how his story hangs, for now.

If God graciously shows him mercy he gets a happy ending after all. The way his story has been written thus far doesn't provide much hope.

I have planned his funeral and will be working on the homily this week.

Which is interesting.

Pastorally I believe that there are words that the family needs to hear. I focus on the message of grace found in the resurrection.

Now, I am the family. My faith in the resurrection is solid. I love the scandalous quality of God's graciousness. So I expect that in the midst of a service where he is eulogized by the people he chose to have a relationship with I will need to be scandalized myself by God's amazing grace as there will be too many opportunities to become bitter at what I have been denied.

So, rather than preach from John 11: 21-26 I am going to turn my attention to Romans 8: 31-39

And I have to run the gauntlet of the family which has different memories of the man and know him far differently than I do.

Good thing I cut my hair Saturday, less to grab at and tug on this week.

Friday will bring closure, one way or another.
 

Mendalla

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Thinking of the Luke text, I was mindful of Buddhism's notice of attachment.
In the prayer of confession (or whatever they called it, it wasn't that) they actually had a reference to "attachments" in a way that really sounded Buddhist. Not sure if that was conscious or if Buddhist notions are starting to permeate Christian culture and thought sufficiently for that to happen spontaneously.
 

KayTheCurler

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Warm thoughts winging towatds revJohn. Losing a parent never seems easy and when the relationship was difficult that makes the loss harder to process.
 

Northwind

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We're visiting friends in Kelowna area right now. We went to an Anglican church with our friend. It was nice. I really liked the minister and his message. It was nice to be back in church this morning. We've been thinking of getting back to church. This may be the impetus to get us back in the groove.
 
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I believe that is the emphasis of the text



It is complicated.

I find myself not really having more reason to mourn. I pursued a relationship with my dad when we returned to Brantford in 2005 after having been four years in BC and seven years in NL I made sure that my dad had an opportunity to meet the grandkids. It was painful to watch a man who didn't know how to be a parent try to be a grand-parent. Especially when the kids would have been happy with literally anything since their experience of what grandparents were was limited.

Clearly the event made him uncomfortable so I never forced a repeat. He was always welcome to come an try it again. He chose not to.

I visited him regularly to see how he was and to keep him up to speed on the family. It was a struggle or him to remember the names of his grandchildren. Part of that is the effects of alcohol over the years. It is not the friend that breweries and distilleries claim. Of course, any friendship that is abused comes with consequences.

Eventually, it became obvious that no matter what he might say he wanted he simply was unable/unwilling to invest in reconciliation and I couldn't carry his burden in that process. So I made sure that I would not repeat his mistakes with my family. I take no joy in saying that I am who I am because I rejected who he was.

I don't hate him. I did love him. I respected his choices no matter how much they hurt me at the time.

So he has been like one dead for years. A person I remember but made no more memories with.

I found that tremendously sad.

Now he is dead and that is how his story hangs, for now.

If God graciously shows him mercy he gets a happy ending after all. The way his story has been written thus far doesn't provide much hope.

I have planned his funeral and will be working on the homily this week.

Which is interesting.

Pastorally I believe that there are words that the family needs to hear. I focus on the message of grace found in the resurrection.

Now, I am the family. My faith in the resurrection is solid. I love the scandalous quality of God's graciousness. So I expect that in the midst of a service where he is eulogized by the people he chose to have a relationship with I will need to be scandalized myself by God's amazing grace as there will be too many opportunities to become bitter at what I have been denied.

So, rather than preach from John 11: 21-26 I am going to turn my attention to Romans 8: 31-39

And I have to run the gauntlet of the family which has different memories of the man and know him far differently than I do.

Good thing I cut my hair Saturday, less to grab at and tug on this week.

Friday will bring closure, one way or another.
I saw this before and I didn’t know how to respond at the time or have time to respond thoughtfully, and I unthoughtfully forgot to come back to it. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for your loss and that it’s a difficult closure for you. I hope everything went okay on Friday.

As for your first service at your new church, it sounds like it was an interesting first day for lots of reasons. I hope it works out well for you there.
 

revjohn

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Kimmio said:
I saw this before and I didn’t know how to respond at the time or have time to respond thoughtfully, and I unthoughtfully forgot to come back to it. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for your loss and that it’s a difficult closure for you. I hope everything went okay on Friday.
No worries.

As I said it was a complex end to a very unsatisfying relationship at this point I mourn more for what my dad lost than I do for what I lost.

Friday had several WTF moments which tested my resolve. The bounds of my role kept me mindful of what I was supposed to be at in the moment. Being charitable I don't believe that the slights which happened and were noticed by others were intentional.

I shared on my FB page more of my journey from first notification to reflections on the day after.

I did get, at the close of the internment affirmation from my uncle John and my uncle Gary. Essentially they both named the fact that my dad had never been much more than a biological matter donor, that he failed in his responsibility to me as a father and that I deserved better than that. Both also affirmed that I had always treated their brother with respect and kindness and that the service I composed and conducted for him was a testament of love and respect which they felt went far and beyond what I owed my dad.

That was the only time I lost my composure.

I was completely unprepared for that particular gift.

Kimmio said:
As for your first service at your new church, it sounds like it was an interesting first day for lots of reasons. I hope it works out well for you there.
The tourists passing through during the service was a new experience. I had lots of opportunities to laugh about it following the service with colleagues and friends.

Formally the appointment ends December 31, 2019 though they have interviewed nobody for the eventual call and they would need to bring a name to a congregational vote and have a willing candidate by the end of September (because that minister will need to give their current charge 90 days notice for a change in the pastoral relationship).

So . . . they either extend the appointment a smidge or, they offer the call to me or a colleague in a similar position if they are determined to have a vacancy declared and filled by January 1, 2020.

Feedback so far has been favourable so I think that I could manage to successfully apply for the call.

Time will tell.
 
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I’m glad to hear your uncles were so supportive.

I hope you get the long term job (if that’s where feel called to be when the time comes).
 
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