- A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
“he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information”
synonyms: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design
a feeling of trust
- want something to happen or be the case.
“he’s hoping for an offer of compensation”
synonyms: expect, anticipate, look for, be hopeful of, pin one’s
hopes on, want
This is Google’s definition of “hope”. When I was a little girl, living with my father and step-mother, waiting for my mother to pick me up for my weekend visit I would sit in the window and hope that she wasn’t going to be late because I would lose time with her. When I was a teenager, I hoped my boyfriend would call me the day after we kissed. When I was married, I hoped we would have healthy children and a strong and happy family. Today I have two spiritually and physically healthy adult daughters with strong and happy marriages as well as two healthy and happy grandsons, oh yea, and two failed marriages. So now I hope that I have grown, healed and will continue to live a whole and authentic personal and professional life. Most of my hopes are for others – for my family, friends, my church and the world. I hope to be healthy for a long time so I can continue to practice the presence of God and give God’s love away. I hope to dance with my grandsons at their weddings. I hope to finish my books, record my songs and make people laugh and ponder until my last breath.
These are my hopes, but what is the Biblical definition of hope? I don’t think it’s “I hope the Dallas Cowboys win the Super Bowl”. Biblical hope is not a hope-so but it is a know-so. It has nothing to do with feelings and it isn’t a waiting game watching for things to turn out the way we wish. Hope is about possessing knowledge of facts. Lately, I have heard many people say, “I hope things turn out the way we hope” but these good intentions do not provide any guarantee. To possess a biblical hope is to live into the anthem the choir sang last Sunday which encouraged us to place the anchor of our soul into the Rock of who God is and will always be. Hoping in God’s nature and God’s desires for us has nothing to do with wishful thinking which is completely powerless to make anything happen. As a Christian, a follower of the ways of Christ, my hope is concrete in the unchanging heart of God who cannot lie (Hebrews 6:8). My hope is wrapped up in “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
This coming Sunday we will enter the Season of Advent where we hope for the coming of Jesus. I know that no matter what unfolds between now and Christmas Day, my faith will not be shaken by what I see or do not see, for I know and trust God because I have seen his/her faithfulness to me. The Star of Hope is already in the sky. I invite you to join the Jedi Magi and me as we find the manger underneath a Death Star and rescue the promised Holy Jedi. The Force is with us so if you need your hope to awaken, come join The Force. God promises you will not be disappointed. I don’t know what is coming, but I know we are not alone.
Yesterday a friend of mine posted the following on Facebook:
“We need more love in the world, so let’s keep it going! If you like this status I will tell you something I like about you. Feel free to do the same in your own status.
So I pushed “like” and an hour later this is what she wrote about me:
“I am so grateful that you are in Calgary and that I know you. You are upper division compassionate. Your empathy is wide. But you are also a do-er. You are the change you want to see in the world, and you live your authenticity every day. I so admire and respect that.”
I am not sharing this to toot my own horn. I am sharing this because the timing of her affirmation for me could not have been more perfect. Her words reminded me of Proverb 25:25
“Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.” My friend does not know what is going on in my life but God knows and I believe the Sacred sent me some much needed encouragement yesterday. As of noon today, she has sent affirmations to 125 people on Facebook and their responses mirrored my own.
This Sunday is Children’s Sunday in the liturgical year and I am preaching on the power of a word. I have been researching what children around the world are feeling and saying about a bully being elected as President of the United States. The uncertainty and fear that children are experiencing over Trump breaks my heart. The monies educational, government and work institutions are spending on bringing awareness to bulling and how it has literally murdered millions in personal and global wars and has also caused young people to commit suicide is astronomical.
Words are one of, if not the greatest, tool we possess. Words are free to share yet their intent may cost more than we can imagine. Words are assessable anytime we want to use them. Words were meant to be gifts not weapons.
Imagine what could happen if we contacted one person a week with the intention to share how they have made a positive difference in our lives? Imagine affirming 52 people a year! It’s easy. We can affirm the way someone gives us customer service, or the way someone smiles, or the way it feels to see how excited your grandchild is to see you. We can send a hand written note to a parent, child, friend or leader who has touched our lives in a special way. Words have the power to kill and heal. Words have the power to stop wars and bring peace.
This Sunday we will have two canvases in the Sanctuary. One has a manger painted on it while the other has a star. The children are going to take the manger canvas to Sunday School and write the words of affirmation they need to hear from adults so they may be empowered and the manger is a precious place to land. The adults are going to have an opportunity during the Offering time to write their words of affirmation for the children under the star. These canvases will hang in our Narthex during Advent as we focus our attention on “Hope Awakening” through Christ and through us.
I look forward to seeing you there, prepared to share a word that just might be the very word someone needs at such a time as this. May the Power of Peace, Hope, Joy and Love Be With Us.
The unexpected has happened. Trump had a card we didn’t expect. He looked for the broken and angry voices, he listened to them and he gave them what they wanted to hear and now he will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. He conquered and divided and then accepted his crown with a new and gentle face. Who Trump is will be revealed as all truth comes to light.
Today, voices are crying out across social media, streaming and screaming, what is going to happen to me and those I love? Some in the global church are saying, “I now believe God is not in control” while another clergy quotes Joel 2:17, “Between the vestibule and the altar, let the ministers of the Lord weep.” This morning a theologian and professor of theology and preaching at Southern Methodist University shared, “I woke up in a foreign land. For me, lamentation and weeping is not a sign of loss of hope, or loss of trust in God – but is rather biblical.”
I want to say some something to clergy and people of faith. Jesus wasn’t politically correct. He listened to the voices and needs around him and courageously spoke up and out on behalf of the marginalized, the sojourner in a foreign land, the excluded, the ones assumed untouchable and non-redeemable. He had the courage to speak the truth with love, compassion, strength and power. He was clear about his purpose. He was not running a race to win a title, but to die for love, even love for his enemies. He was bold when he spoke to the hypocritical clergy who were spiritually abusing and exploiting the church. Jesus knew his purpose and he lived into divine love courageously, with his eyes wide open, sharing the burden of the people’s pain.
As America waits to crown Trump with a title many feel he does not deserve or know how to live into, people of faith, this crowning calls us to be Christ. When we remain silent from the sidelines, afraid we will rock the boat if we speak up for the victims of abuse, exploitation, exclusivity, racisim or any other form of denigration and demoralization, we are imitating the ways of the abuser. When we refuse to be silent, when we dare to show up and when we choose to feel the burden of painful stories, we open doors for change and healing and we imitate the ways of Jesus.
The cost of imitating Christ in the church and outside her walls may be considerable and the divide may widen before enough people are willing to step out of fearing the costs and step into being light in the dark. If people of faith, if church leaders, are unwilling to speak the truth in love, we have nothing to offer the world. If we are unwilling to be people of integrity no matter the cost, what will the witness of our lives amount to at the end of our days?
Today, I am called to be brave. I am called to embrace a Hope that by nature cannot disappoint me. Today, I am called to remember that God knows me and loves me unconditionally and His/Her love is not exclusive to me. The grace of this Presidential election is it has revealed the depth, width, length and height of America’s divide and divides that exist in nations, cultures, places of worship and homes around the world. This election has taken the scales away from our eyes. We can longer pretend to be blind to ways that we are being called to be the hands, feet and heart of God in our stories and in our world. This sad and despicable race has shown us the shadows with whom we dance with in complacency and friends, the music of our selfishness must stop. Today, we are being called to rise strongly for the weak, live courageously for the exploited, love humanity greatly and awaken hope for the hopeless. This is a new ADVENT. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot extinguish it.” People and leaders of faith, be strong and courageous just as the Love that came down and dwelt among us. Hope for the hopeless lives in you and me. We were created for eternity, so for now we are all sojourners in a foreign land but we are not alone. God is with us and we are stronger together. God have mercy, Christ have mercy.
One has to learn how to be objective and then live intentionally trying to be just that…objective. Having been in Calgary 17 out of the last 21 years and now a Canadian citizen, I have been watching the presidential election circus and as a dual citizen, I am embarrassed and saddened at the actions and words from both candidates ceasing to shock me any longer. In fact, when I turn on the news, I expect to hear absurdities instead of platforms, lies instead of truths, deflections instead of plans, blame instead of leadership. Not once have my Canadian friends or my congregation cracked a joke about my country of birth or thrown the circus below our border into my face. Thank you.
The headlines of porn cameos, a shimmy, a fat Miss Universe, sexual harassment, zero accountability, affairs, I could go on and on, has captivated the world more than who shot J.R. and that was big folks…that one held millions around the world prisoner for months. Our appetite for the bizarre is bottomless. Why? Why do we keep flipping from channel to channel to get yet another biased perspective about two people degrading one another? I have been trying to find vocabulary to explain how watching all of this makes me feel and today it hit me. I feel like I did as a young child when my big brother talked me into going to the Freak Show at the Texas State Fair. As I looked at the human beings with their deformities and exotic ways of contorting, I felt scared and ashamed. I also felt sad that these people believed they had no other way to earn a living than to be exploited by self-centered managers and voyeurs who bought a ticket to laugh at another in order to feel better about themselves. I began to cry out of fear and shame and asked my brother to leave the tent with me. I shared my feelings with him and he apologized for taking me to “the show”.
The people in “the show” were real people. They had feelings, needs and dreams just like everyone else on the planet. The people in the United States are real too. And I feel helpless to bring healing to a system of governing that began with the best intentions yet currently exists as a Freak Show for the rich to run, the super-packs to empower and industries meant for healing to exploit.
The blind are leading the blind, the hungry, the hurting, the dying, the trying and the ones who have given up on being a voice in a good and just system. How do we become the change we wish to see when the stage, the system, the world we live in inside our community and home, is not respected by those with more of everything?
We step back and become objective and remember that every life matters. Everyone has a voice and we are responsible to offer our voice for the highest good of all, especially those labeled a freak. We are citizens of the Holy, not consumers of souls. We can own our desire to feel smug as we click through the channels, imprisoned in apathy instead of free to be empathizers who can make a difference. We can feel disdain for our choosing to be entertained by the circus. We can refuse to allow our lives and the futures of our children to be dominated by obscene intentions. We can be objective and realize that we are the people in control of the thermostat for our government. Our taxes, our voices, our votes, our awareness of what is just and life giving for ALL, our choices, what we accept, what we allow, is the homeostasis of where and how we live. Our hands are not tied. We are citizens of the Holy and we are here to bring create the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. As long as we have the right to choose who leads us, as long as we have the freedom to create a system that functions on a higher bar of authenticity and honesty, as long as we understand that one voice can ignite a collective voice that can bring justice and liberty, we can dismantle the theatre we have co-created with those who lead us and build a new way living together.
I believe God desires us to be a people who share our gifts and our strengths with one another. Perhaps I am watching the United States implode and deconstruct itself to make room for real change. I cast my vote, I shared my voice but I am not finished. My letters to the local government leaders in Tarrant County Texas are on their way. My letter of gratitude to President Obama and First Lady Michelle is still in the works. My letter to the next President of the United States is pregnant and in labour. America is the Land of the Free where we have the hard-earned privilege to lift our voices and cast our votes while many voices we share the planet with are silenced under dictatorship. Where the Spirit of God is, there is freedom. I wonder, do we think and live as people who are truly free or have we accepted a freak show that exists on the sweat of our backs? Are we a people worthy of our freedom? We’ll see, that’s for sure. The show’s almost over. CLICK.
The Trial of Resurrection – October 24, 2016
Today was an interesting day for sure. A day that sent me to read and think about Jesus on trial and I wondered…
What do you do when you are doing your best but others read meanings into your words and actions that are inaccurate and hurtful?
What do you do when a story has been crafted about you to deflect from what is really going on?
What do you do when you stand up for something that is true because you love the offender and the offended yet those you are trying to help and protect have swallowed a lie and do not know it?
What do you do when you have taken an oath, live into that oath the best you can, and by doing so you are crucified by tongues?
What do you do when you follow the ways of Christ and have no security?
What do you do when your family and friends are tired of the drama you want and need so badly to end with understanding and healing?
What do you do when you are in a room with people who don’t understand the urgency to deal with elephant in the room?
You seek wisdom.
You obey the Spirit over all other well intended or ill intended voices.
You love anyway.
You serve anyway.
You trust God anyway.
You speak truth anyway.
You choose silence in front of those deceived and love them anyway.
You spend yourself on those seeking the Spirit for no time is wasted and every soul matters.
You take care of yourself.
You have healthy boundaries.
You live aware of balance.
You pray. You pray. You pray.
And then you wait…trusting God…trusting that God is true to her nature of desiring love and wholeness for all and that all things hidden and in need of healing will come to light. And those who have the chance to be informed by the light will be healed but those who choose to stay in the dark, you love them anyway.
You love them all. You forgive them all. That’s what you do for that is what God does for you and for me every day. Every day God’s love is swallowing us whole no matter what.
So much of the time we want to hear “It is finished” without learning how to be poured out for love.
Resurrection is coming.
I’m a little broken teacup short and stout…
Confirming the Affirming – October 12, 2016
Last weekend I met with some youth and adults in my home to explore our faith. The fireplace was on and gentle music surrounded us as we open the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and dove in with abandonment. We looked at human creations, creeds and doctrines, written by groups of intentional sojourners and scholars who desired to give voice by way of definition to their individual and communal experiences with God. No question was off limit and no insight discarded. While I facilitated the conversation, and did a great deal of teaching, I enjoyed becoming a student of my students. I separated folks into two groups. One group read Genesis Chapter 1 while the other group read Genesis Chapter 2. When we came back together to share our experiences with two creation stories two young people shared this with the group:
“It was like God was just sitting in the dark by himself fiddling his thumbs and said to himself, “I’ve got to move. I am bored.” So God began to move and think about things and then BOOM! He thought about light and BOOM light was created and God said, “Cool. That’s really good!” Then God began to think about water and dirt and BOOM! Water and dirt were created. And God said, “Cool! That’s really good.”
I loved their enthusiasm with their interpretation and responded, “That is a really awesome perspective on creation. I love the idea that God’s thoughts and energy manifest creations! And I love that God enjoyed the experience and thought His/Her creations were good. And I love that God took some time to celebrate each creation and have fun creating.”
Smiling and glowing they said, “Yeah right?”
I said, “Imagine what the world would be like if we were so connected into God by faith, by practice, that our thoughts did the same thing? Because the truth is that we do effect change with our thoughts and energy. What is the change we want to see? The answer depends on the change we are willing to be.”
On Sunday, three youth and three adults were confirmed into the United Church of Canada and another adult transferred her letter of membership from a sister congregation into our congregation. Last Sunday seven people joined our Living Spirit family of faith. It was a day that confirmed for me that affirming one another’s experience with God is a bridge we need to build together so we may be able to experience wholeness in God. We all have snippets of the Holy and only when we join our snippets together will we be able to behold the mystery that lives within all.
National Coming Out Day – Thoughts from Traci Hubbard
I believe the human journey is all about stepping out into being a whole person. The term “Coming Out” speaks to me across the spectrum of humanity. To become whole persons, living joyfully and fearlessly into our purpose on the planet requires us to step out of anything that is holding us captive from living authentically. For me, the term “coming out” means letting go of all that is false and life stealing and “stepping into” all that is true and life giving. This movement is a courageous act for the arena we step into has spectators in comfortable seats watching, assuming and judging. This being true, there are also people willing to step into the arena with us, cheering us on and wiping the blood and sweat off of our faces and these are the people whose opinions matter. Coming out and stepping out means something different to every soul on the planet. We all have personal work to do as we discover our work and our pathways on our journey. If we would all dare greatly and step out of the dark and into the light just imagine what we could create together!
Aileen Pelzer has been serving LSU for many years by providing congregation members the opportunity to purchase Fair Trade coffee at just over wholesale cost. Proceeds have been used to subsidize the cost of Fair Trade for our Fellowship time.
The time has come for Aileen to pass the mug along to someone else. We are asking for another member to come forward to take over the ordering and sales of the coffee by the end of October. We both felt that if there is a need and desire for this service, someone will pick it up. If not, Aileen is willing to sell the remaining coffee until the end of December or until the stock at hand is gone.
Thank you for considering
October is Food Bank/Food Bridge month at LSU
The Food Bridge, which resides in the room behind the sound booth in the sanctuary, is now all but empty. The shelves were bursting with cans and boxes however during tidying and organizing it became apparent that 3/4 of the items were past their best before date, some of it WAY past (I mean years!!) PLEASE, when donating items from your own cupboard, be mindful of those dates. They aren’t always easy to find but take the time to look. If you would not serve it to your family or eat it yourself, please do not bring it to our Food Bridge.
We are asking that our congregation members help us restock our shelves with nutritious, non-perishable foods. In the event that we over-stock our own Food Bridge we will deliver the remainder to the Calgary Food Bank.
Oct 9 – Often the people that come to LSU requesting assistance with groceries do not have access to kitchen facilities to cook or heat their meals or even a place to store food once it is opened. With this in mind, we are asking people to stock our shelves with ready-to-eat food – packages of cheese whiz and crackers, tuna and crackers, granola/cereal bars, small jars of peanut butter, natural almonds or other nuts/seeds, crackers, 100% juice/vegetable drinking boxes, individual apple sauce/pudding cups, dried fruit, etc
Oct 16 – Breakfast – Everyone, especially children, should start their day with a healthy, nutritious breakfast containing protein rich foods to keep blood sugars balanced through the morning. Please consider stocking our shelves with high quality, nutrition dense breakfast foods – cold cereal, oatmeal/hot cereal, peanut butter, jam/jelly, dry milk, evaporated (NOT sweetened condensed) milk, etc
Oct 30 – Dinner – Generally speaking, people have more time to prepare dinner than other meals. Here are some items that you may consider bringing in to stock our shelves: pasta, pasta sauces, rice, beans/legumes, canned beans, baked beans, canned veggies/fruit, canned tomatoes, dried mashed potatoes, pasta sauce, canned stew, Hamburger/Tuna helper, canned meat/fish, small herbs/spices (chili powder, oregano, Mrs Dash,etc),
Music Ministry by Amanda Massey
I remember the day I decided I wanted to join the adult choir at my church. I was 10 years old and the choir sang a song about a train, and while I don’t remember what the name of the song was, I do remember that I was excited when I heard it. After that I told my Mom that I didn’t want to sing in the children’s choir anymore, I wanted to be in the adult choir. So my Mom and I joined the adult choir. When I started people were always telling me to sing louder and over time I not only learnt to sing louder I also learnt to become a leader. I found my voice in that church and that choir. Since that day when I was 10 I have gone on to study music in university and to sing in many different choirs, but church was where I have always felt safe to explore who I am as an individual, who I am spiritually and who I am as a musician.
I feel that I have spent my life being groomed to be a United Church musician, so when the opportunity came for me to join my husband Greg in music ministry at Living Spirit United Church I was ecstatic. Looking back at the last four and a half years of worshiping with the congregation at LSUC there have been countless moments of joy, excitement, sorrow and holiness and I feel blessed to have been there to witness all of them. I am extremely proud to lead our music program. While there have been large accomplishments such as choir cantatas, concerts and children’s musicals my favorite memories are of smaller moments; catching the eye of a chorister during an anthem, playing instruments with the children during praise singing, watching our seniors do every action in a kid’s song, and knowing that a piece of music has made somebody feel something. When I was 10 years old I was inspired by the music at church, my hope for the music program at LSUC is that we can inspire more people and help them find their voice.
We have a wonderful community here at Living Spirit and we want to share with you just why …
This past Sunday marks 2 years for me at Living Spirit United Church. It has been a wonderful experience, providing me with many opportunities to make deep personal connections, be of service to others and explore my spirituality.
My LSU “journey” began as I offered to take my mother to church when she was unable to drive due to a fall. I knew how important the church was in her life and I knew she was missing the connection with her friends. I was welcomed with open arms on that very first Sunday. I had already come to know and love many of Mum’s church friends for the consistent support they had provided through 40 years at Westminster, Riverview and, finally, Living Spirit. I very quickly came to know and love many more and have made some deep meaningful connections of my own.
Being of service has been a central theme throughout my life, something I learned at an early age from my mother who rarely misses an opportunity to help others! As you know, there are many opportunities to be of service in our church community. I am honored to sit on the LSU council, at first representing the F4 ministry and at present, as lead for Social Justice and Outreach. By becoming involved in the inner workings of the church, I very soon felt “a part of”, at home, in Living Spirit United!
By far the most personally fulfilling service I have been involved with is our Refugee Initiative in conjunction with Friends Church and Temple B’nai Tikvah. How gratifying it has been to work with other faith groups in support of our wonderful Syrian family. I have found it so deeply rewarding to know that we are making an incredible difference in the lives of Adel, Hiyam and their children.
After a few weeks of attending LSU as “Mum’s taxi”, I realized that the church and its ministry was a fit for me, a safe place to explore my spirituality. I was encouraged to ask questions, of our ministry team and of myself. I felt fully supported as I searched out the answers about what I believe, what else is out there, how to express the Divine within me. I am still searching and digging deeper. I continue to ask these hard questions and through Grace I will be on this journey of discovery for a very long time.
I am deeply grateful to the wonderful people of Living Spirit United Church for their love and support. Thank you all!