Enjoy this Family Day Long Weekend!
Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day
At first it might seem contradictory having Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day this year – a marking of the start of the season of Lent, often reduced to the idea of giving something up (such as chocolate), and a day that has become synonymous with the idea of romantic love as reflected in consumption (chocolate). And yet, if we think about what Lent and Valentine’s Day are really about, they might not be quite so far apart after all.
Let’s start with Lent. In English, Lent can refer to the church season, but it also connects to an Old English word lencten meaning “spring (the season)” and associated with the word for long, because of the days growing longer. In French, Italian, and ultimately Latin we see connections to the word for “slow” – for those of you who are musical, you just need to think of or lentement (or lente) can mean “slow.” A very similar word, however, comes from the Latin for “lentil” and came to take on the sense of “lens” (I guess this is due to the shape of a lens being lentil-like). So we can bring the idea of a lens, and how we see things, to the idea of Lent as well. Where does this get us?
Lent is a season for slowing down and seeing what is around us.
And Valentine’s Day is a day where we recognize the importance of love – not just romantic love, but all love. The love of friends and family (by birth or by choice), the love of others, and the divine love that rests within and connects us all. When we recognize something we might celebrate it, whether through gift-giving (which is nice but not the most important part of the day), or through words and actions (calling a friend, hugging a child, smiling at a stranger), or through reflection, meditation, and thanksgiving for that love that flows through each of us.
So on this Valentine’s Lent day, I wish you time to slow down, look around, and give thanks for the many varied ways that we experience love in our lives.
Blessings, Rev. Emily Gordon
The WALK will be held on Saturday, February 24th, 2018, and each participant / team has the opportunity to walk 2, 5 or 10 km and feel a hint of the challenge faced by those experiencing homelessness during winter.
Faith in Action!
Registration and Donation Link to Leaside United Church Youth fundraising page: https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/TeamFundraisingPage.aspx?teamID=788625&langPref=en-CA
On Sunday, March 4th 10:30am, the Rev. Evan Smith will be our speaker. Evan is ordained in the United Church of Canada and is the minister at Toronto Urban Native Ministry in Regent Park. Rev. Evan is Two-Spirit, Anishinaabe, and turtle clan. Evan works on the front lines doing pastoral care and harm reduction with sex workers, Indigenous LGBTQ2A youth, families, people who are incarcerated and street-involved folks. Passionate about encouraging peoples spiritual health, Evan serves Indigenous people living on the margins through the practice of both Traditional Spirituality and Christianity as part of her ministerial work at Toronto Urban Native Ministry.
On Sunday, February 25th 10:30am, our guest speaker will be El-Farouk Khaki. El-Farouk is a spirituality activist, human rights & justice advocate, and refugee lawyer, a public and media speaker on issues including Islam, LGBTIQ/human rights, refugees, politics and HIV. El-Farouk is founder of Salaam: Queer Muslim Community (1991); and co-founder & imam of el-Tawhid Juma Circle (2009). El-Farouk is co-owner of the Glad Day Bookshop, and recipient of numerous Awards including: 2006 “Excellence in Spirituality” Award – Pride Toronto; 2007 Hero Award, Canadian Bar Association; and 2016 CCVT Trevor Batram Award. He is currently working on his first book exploring issues of sexuality, social justice and spirituality.
It’s still pretty cold and snowy out, but if you are de-cluttering or doing some pre-Spring cleaning, please consider donating gently used items to Leaside United Church’s Awesome Sale. Volunteer inventory sorters have already begun sorting through 100’s of items that have been donated since the last sale. The dates are confirmed for:
We are happy to accept donations from Monday to Friday 9:00am to 4:00pm at Leaside United Church 822 Millwood Road, Toronto, Ontario, M4G 1W4 Ph:(416) 425-1253 to be left on the stage of the Auditorium (lower level through the side door off of Millwood Road) of the following items:
Note: We are no longer able to accept donations of furniture and will not be selling furniture of any kind at future sales. No furniture shall be accepted, picked up or sold. Unfortunately, storage costs, the labour-heavy elements and demand on our caretaker’s time have made this community service non-sustainable. Please spread the word and continue to bring your donations for the Sale. Thank you for helping us continue to work together on this great outreach and community service event.
The 2018 dates are set: Spring Friday, May 11 (from 3pm to 7pm) and Saturday, May 12 (from 9am to noon) and Fall Friday, Oct 12 (from 3pm to 7pm) and Saturday, Oct 13 (from 10am to noon). Inventory Volunteers have started sorting the donations beginning last week. Please drop off your donations to the stage in the auditorium. IMPORTANT NOTE: We will no longer be offering furniture for sale at the Awesome Sale effective immediately there will be NO furniture pick-ups, sales or deliveries.
A. Our first refugee family who arrived one year ago this month are doing well and enjoyed celebrating their first year in Canada at a dinner in their honour. The children and mom are in school full time. On Saturdays they enjoy Conversational English at their apartment in Thorncliffe with some LUCCRRC folk and anyone else who likes to chat and enjoy tea. The father has registered at an employment / job / placement agency and is intending to upgrade his education via OSAP and apply for a MEd at the University of Toronto.
B. Our second family who arrived this summer had an unfortunate accident when the mother fell and broke her wrist on some ice. The sons and oldest daughter are all working at a local Superstore and receiving regular tutoring in English. The youngest of the family is in high school and doing well.
C. We are currently working on a third family to sponsor under the “named” sponsorship program for a refugee family who are from Afghanistan and currently in India. All the necessary paperwork has been filed with the government.
Blessings to all!
Bob and Lis Lister
Ross Lawford will lead us in talking about two related topics: “Experiencing the Presence” and “Being the Presence”. We will consider the role of ‘practice’ in both cases. You are invited to be Present: 10am to Noon Saturday February 10th, 2018 Leaside United Church (auditorium) Coffee, tea and refreshments between 10am – 10:15am
On a regular basis Spirit Alive meets to explore matters of spirituality, meditate, and reflect together. Save the second Saturday morning of the month to meet at 10:00 to noon. Spirit Alive begins with coffee, snacks and fellowship followed by a period of led meditation, music, quiet time and reflection to deepen the sense of the spiritual at the center of one’s life. For more information contact Bea Lawford.
Cast Away! You knew that right?
That was one among a hundred tricky trivia questions laid out on Saturday night at the January 20th Trivia Night fundraiser. It was a huge success! Leaside United Church (LUC) hosted this fun event in support of El Hogar de Amor y Esperanza, a school and home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. LUC has had a long tradition of supporting El Hogar through the church’s Outreach Program.
Over 90 players on 13 teams matched wits in the trivia contest. In the end, Team ‘Kangaroo’ took first place, answering 85% of the questions correctly! Close behind were the ‘Quizzlers’ and ‘The Condemned’. Some of the trivia topics included: Man’s Best Friend, Tom Hanks movies, Famous Landmarks and Arts and Literature. When the night was over, about $3,000 had been raised for the children of El Hogar.
Thank you for your continued support!
Neal Kelly & Nancy Stewart
Please enjoy these fine pictures captured on the evening by our volunteer photographer Murray Fenner:
The disposal of plastics continues to be a huge
environmental challenge, with 8 million tons of
plastic making its way into our oceans each year.
Microplastics or microbeads are less than 5 mm in
diameter and found in toiletries – products
intended for the cleansing or exfoliation of hair,
skin, teeth, or mouth. This microbeads are turning
up at many levels of the food chain. Canada has
banned the use of microbeads as of July of this
year. In the meantime, seek out products that do
not contain microbeads.
The LUC Green Team for Global Wellness is looking
for more members. If you are interested in joining
us in this valuable initiative, contact
email@example.com for more
Yes, you read that right … our fabulous Pancake Supper this year will again be a fantastic fusion of PLAID and PANCAKES. Wear your best plaid and join us on Tuesday February 13th as we celebrate Shrove (Fat) Tuesday together! Save the date now and bypass dinner plans … we’ve got it taken care of for you!
Lullabies and Hymns for us all.
During last September’s interview, I was asked what Bible stories I planned on sharing with the baby first. It’s an interesting question, but over the last month, I’ve been thinking that another question was more urgent – what hymns did I plan to sing to the baby? During the Songs & Psalms series in late October and early November, we spent time thinking about how music is a window into the sacred. Sometimes people create an arbitrary separation between sacred and secular, when actually all music can speak to the larger questions about life, touching our spirits and not just our ears. So we spent some time hearing lyrics to songs that were not written primarily to be shared in a church, and exploring the meaning they offer our faith (and you can hear those sermons online if you are interested). Since then, I’ve been thinking about the other side of that relationship – the ways hymns and refrains that we sing together in church then spill over into the rest of our lives, as we find ourselves humming the tunes, or remembering words or phrases.
The first time I was changing Neil, I found myself instinctively wanting to sing something to try to comfort him. The lullaby that jumped into mind was “Hush Little Baby,” but as I started singing it I was quickly dissatisfied. First of all, I found myself unable to remember what “Papa” will buy after the looking glass should break. But then, I wondered what kind of a message the song was giving: be quiet and we’ll buy you things. And when something goes wrong with those things, just buy more things…
Well, it started me thinking about what’s behind what we sing, and the next song I chose was “O Beautiful Gaia” from More Voices. A hymn about the beauty of the earth, the Canadian landscape, and our call to responsibility. The hymn is also beautiful when sung slowly, perfect for a lullaby. What makes a hymn a good lullaby? Or, for everyone not seeking lullabies right now – what makes a hymn a song that can stay with us, and feed our spirits during the week? Here are a few thoughts: a tune that can be remembered and sung again; words that can be remembered (the repetition in “O Beautiful Gaia” or “Peace for the Children,” which we sung Nov. 12th, is perfect for this); and ideas that have both a certain depth and a certain simplicity. With these three elements a hymn or refrain can be carried with us into our daily lives, grounding us in times of worry or anxiety, comforting us in times of sadness, expressing our moments of joy and thanksgiving. Spending some time finding the hymns that speak to us can enrich not just our worship together but also many other moments in our lives.
Take “Peace for the Children” for instance. This hymn expresses a deep hope, a deep longing, for the world – that we might experience peace. We also hear about the role of our faith in this longing (“Following the path of One of Peace”) as well as our own personal responsibility (“We work for healing, we work for peace”). Because we can call ourselves followers of Jesus, who is called One of Peace, we are called to work for peace. Peace comes out of wholeness, coming together, our effort. It is something active that we are called toward. As I sing these words to Neil, I can tell him “we know the One of Peace as Jesus. As you grow, I’ll tell you about him.” And for now, I can hope these words and these notes bring peace – “Peace for our little Neil, peace, peace. Peace for our little Neil we pray.”
With blessings, Rev. Emily Gordon
Thought for the day:
Recently, I unexpectedly followed a lead to an article in the Lifestyle section of Fashion magazine – The New New Age: “Spiritual But Not Religious” by Katherine Gougeon. What caught my attention, and I wanted to share, was a quotation from Lillian Daniel, a minister in our sister denomination in the USA, the United Church of Christ: “Religious tradition should be like sandpaper against a culture that is constantly asking ‘How can we meet your needs?’ It should require something of you. Any idiot can find God in a sunset. Finding God in the woman sitting next to you whose baby cries during the entire sermon takes grit.”
Have you thought of religion this way before? I think our faith should both be something that feeds and nurtures us, and something that challenges us and makes demands. Where do you find God in the midst of the requirements of community?
Blessings, Rev. Emily Gordon