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!
Open and Free – September 12, 2016
“This is setting out. The leaving of everything behind. Leaving the social milieu. The preconceptions. The definitions. The language. The narrowed field of vision. The expectations. No longer expecting relationships, memories, words, or letters to mean what they used to mean. To be, in a word: Open.” Rabbi Lawrence Kushner
There is a difference to being a student and being a learner. I decided to walk away from people I was allowing to suffocate my soul. I put away self-help books, teachings from the Mystics and music. Instead of looking for a formula to teach me, I journeyed deep into the resources and wisdom that were whispering inside of me and I released myself and listened.
Listening is the gateway to discovery. My walking away from what was familiar, but stagnant, freed me to engage myself and others with vulnerable transparency. One of my first discoveries was that I alone was the Warden to my physical and emotional confinements, not the persons or situations that I was giving permission to squeeze joy and purpose out of me. I physically and emotionally walked away from all that I was allowing to keep me imprisoned from God, myself, significant others and creation. My walking out of significant relationships that were limiting me, opened doors for me to live into my gifts more present and more fully aware of divine possibilities. While the outside was unraveling, looking scarce and very untrustworthy, my inner world was becoming whole, filling my body, heart, soul and mind with new beginnings and divine intersections with loved ones and strangers who are becoming holy teachers and friends.
A year ago I used to believe that all problems have a solution and in God’s view and knowledge of things, I am certain this is true. However, in the realm of free will, I believe there are times when we need to walk away from unsolvable realities that limit our beliefs that cast a lens of scarce resources over our understanding and keep us tied to destructive relationships. I have walked out into a new day, a world that was always present but hidden by my limitations. After walking out of the greediness of time where I found myself grasping for more time, I walked into the freedom of creating what I needed with the abundance I already possessed. I have discovered that I possess more gifts and wisdom than I believed and was led to believe, and now I am living in the freedom of who I am and who God is. I am enjoying the fathomless mystery of God, the highest consciousness of all.
Since setting out on my freedom journey, I have been creating life-giving change while some difficult circumstances still remain to teach me. Waiting for a heroic leader to solve everything was like stacking water, so I became the leader I needed to be in order to move through, over and around all obstacles. Because I have welcomed the presence of any obstacle as a compassionate teacher I am enjoying balance and peace. I am accepting the flow of whatever and whoever intersects my day as a gift from the Universe and in being open, I am experiencing creativity, healthy relationships and more joy than ever before. I am open and free
Gifts From the Wilderness – September 5, 2016
Ever experienced a wilderness in your heart? By wilderness I am speaking about a feeling that tells you there is no place home but you can’t find home even when you are sitting on your couch! Every wilderness experience exists to be a sacred sojourner and teacher to us. Even silence and aloneness offers comfort in her presence.
The past two years I lived like a nomad, house sitting whenever I could, creating space for my wilderness to teach me. My journey was a leap of faith as I need to be surrounded by sameness that reflects my life. In the beginning I packed my car to the brim, bringing with me heavy boxes of pictures, clothing for all seasons, at least 50 books, even more DVD’s and all 78 journals I have filled. I lived in a basement suite for 2 months without TV or music. I never watched one DVD on my laptop. Instead, I spent my time exploring the Elbow River, the lessons and love now very clear in my dark nights of my soul journal recordings. I was struck by how profoundly lonely and betrayed I felt when I wrote these journal entries and yet on the other side, the morning side, the lesson learned and wisdom gained side, I see and feel the palpable presence of God blanketing me.
As I journeyed from house to house and sometimes back to my own home, even home and and the homes of others began to morph into oasis’s of comfort and peace. I recognized myself as a spiritual transient who was creating an inward home that was unable to be shaken by anyone or anything external. I began to take less with me until I was carrying only one suitcase. Lightening my load created space for me to be aware that I was creating space in my body, soul and mind to see clearly, receive fully and heal deeply.
Strange places became new friends that allowed me to explore myself with compassion and joy. I befriended my shadows with grace and understanding and felt them dissipate into gifts full of rich colours. My head joined my heart and squeezed out every shred of worry. Trust became my delight and my delight turned my journey into dreaming, creating and holy fun.
One of the clear lessons that was seared into my being was that I needed to leave behind people and ideas that betrayed themselves and me. I am open to the flow of life, living as one crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the One that gives life.” The wilderness is a gift so unwrap it for yourself. I promise you that you will be abundantly surprised by joy.