The Awesome Sale

It might not feel like it right now, BUT the Spring AWESOME SALE is only 5 weeks away!  Remember:  It doesn’t need to be NEW to be AWESOME!  We are accepting donations of gently used goods of housewares, clothing, sports equipment, toys, books, jewelry, treasures, trinkets, cds, dvds, home decor, small appliances and electronics, pictures, lamps, shoes, purses and accessories (NO furniture).

Sale proceeds support both our local ministry and the significant outreach projects of our church.  Come and enjoy some of the best values in the GTA and a memorable shopping experience!

Emily’s Weekday Wondering – Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday April 1, 2018 –  Easter People

What a wonderful Easter celebration! We had somewhere between 250 and 300 people of all ages (from 4 months to 97 years) attend our Sunday service, which was bright with flowers and alive with music. Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who worked to make this busy weekend possible, including everyone in the choir who offered musical leadership on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, after a choir practice Thursday! There were so many people whose time, efforts, and energy made this weekend meaningful.

On Sunday, I talked about our human tendency to focus on what is missing, on what is going wrong rather than what is going right, and what is actually there. In the Easter story, the resurrection hope is represented by an empty tomb. It takes a long time for Mary of Magdala, and Peter and the other disciple, to notice anything besides the absence, what seems to be missing. Peter and the other disciple leave without really understanding what is happening, while Mary not only needs to see Jesus but also to hear him speak her name before she can move past her grief and her assumptions about what is happening and actually recognize Jesus standing in front of her. Each of the gospel writers tells a different version of this story, but for each the process of figuring out what is happening takes time.

It’s not easy for us to see the good that seems to lie hidden beneath the bare earth like a seed that has not yet begun to sprout. We can become so caught up in our grief, in our busyness, in our fear, that we miss paying attention to the hope, the good news that exists already. Often this is true as individuals, and it is certainly true as a society. It is part of the reason that despite falling crime rates, we continue to have news stories filled with crime. Despite lower rates of child abductions, our children are increasingly encouraged to fear being with strangers and not taught independence.  It is the reason we are disproportionately affected by people acting inconsiderately on the roads or on transit, because those who follow the rules, who act kindly, who take part in small acts of generosity are taken for granted, not worth noticing.

If you are scanning a typical newspaper or news site, you might find it hard to find a story of good news. There are actually a few websites or organizations specifically created to address this imbalance, by sharing good news stories from around the world. They might help us hear what else is already happening, so that our own perception of the world is not imbalanced.

Easter is not about ignoring the absences that exist in our lives – the losses, the suffering, the uncertainty… but it is about saying that these absences are not the final word. God’s love is present in the midst of these seeming absences. Hope and new life are breaking forth in unexpected places. As “Easter people” we have the task of paying attention to all of life, and nurturing the seeds of possibility that are already taking root.

Blessings, Rev. Emily Gordon

Holy Week at Leaside United Church

Here is a look back on Holy Week at Leaside United Church. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the hope and transformation Easter promises. From Communion on Palm Sunday to a Blue Moon rising mid-week capping off with an Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Celebration Sunday, the week provided many moments for contemplative reflection.

Photographs by: Michele Petick, Webmaster

 

Spirit Alive – Saturday April 14, 2018

 

Spirit Alive will be meeting on Saturday April 14th, 2018

10:00 to noon

 

Leaside United Church (auditorium)

Coffee, tea and refreshments between 10am – 10:15am


We will be exploring the topic of:

The Sabbath in 2018

Questions to consider:

“What is the relevance of the Sabbath in today’s secular world?

Do we still honour the sabbath today and,  if so, how do we do so?

David Phillips will lead a reflection and discussion  about the meaning of the sabbath in today’s world. The session will include  a look at sabbath traditions in other religions. Walter Brueggeman’s book titled “Sabbath as Resistance” will be used as a resource for this session.

 


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.

Emily’s Weekday Wondering – Good Friday

Good Friday Reflections on Blame and Blame-Shifting

While I was preparing for our Good Friday and Easter Sunday services, I came across a reflection on the Mark’s passion story by Amy Merrill Willis which she titled “The Politics of Blame-Shifting.” In it, Willis reminds us that there are multiple historical sources that describe Pilate’s brutal leadership in Judea and notes “Unlike the historical Pilate, the Pilate of the gospel narrative feels compelled from the beginning to appease the crowd and its leadership.” Why the difference between the Mark’s depiction of Pilate and the Pilate of history? Mark and later gospel writers were writing in their context, “when factionalism created social and religious rifts between the early Jewish-Christians and their Jewish neighbors in the synagogues.” Blaming Jewish people who were not followers of Jesus became more important in this context than blaming the Romans.

Even if we ignore the fact that Mark shifts the blame in the gospel (which we know not only because of historical accounts of Pilate but also because crucifixion was a specifically Roman form of execution used for rebellion – Jesus suffered a Roman death because he was seen as a threat to the “Pax Romana”), we see blame shifting happening within the gospel story. Mark’s Pilate’s actions are presented as a way of appeasing the crowd, so he can say “it wasn’t my fault.” It’s a common political practice, isn’t it? We hear blame shifted to other political parties, to other levels of government, and most worryingly to specific segments of the population. Blame becomes a way of avoiding one’s responsibility.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t identify mistakes and problems of the past and present, but when we got caught up in the question of blame we lose sight of what is happening – and what has the potential to happen. If we focus on finding the blame for Jesus’ death, it can lead to terrible actions, as the history of anti-Semitism attests. It also can mean we lose sight of what is happening. Rather than being a judgment on a single people or a specific person, Jesus’ death is part of a common practice for those in power trying to hold onto control. Human violence is commonplace, and those in power all too often use violence to target any opposition. Jesus came with a different message. He stood for everything that was not human violence, and he risked everything for his vision.

Blame is commonplace in our lives and in our politics. Even when we’re not talking in political terms, a focus on blame can be detrimental. When we blame others we can become self-righteous or resentful. Arguments between friends and family are en-flamed when each person blames the other for words or actions rather than listening to the deeper emotions and working together to find a way forward. Blaming someone else can also lead to us justifying our own actions that we usually would not. On the flip side, blame can be harmful when we spend too much time blaming ourselves, which can lead to guilt consuming our thoughts and emotions so that we can no longer live fully, sometimes to the point that it is difficult to act at all.

I wish I had a magic answer for how to avoid blame and blame-shifting. I know I catch myself getting caught up in blame all too often. But I do think the first step is always to pay attention to where it is happening in our words and the words of others. We can ask ourselves: who is being blamed? Is that person or group able to speak for themselves? Is there an alternative possibility? Where is this attention to blame causing harm by leading to action or inaction? When is blame important to assign correctly? Where do we need to let go of blame in order to move forward – into the hope and freedom of Easter?

Blessings, Rev. Emily Gordon

Congratulations New Grandparents!

We extend a tremendous congratulations to our Christian Education Director, Tanya Wiles-Bell and John Bell who are thrilled to announce that their daughter Michaela and Adam welcomed a baby girl, Juniper Theresa Lark, on Wednesday, March 21st at 12:52 pm. The baby weighed 8 lbs and is 21 inches in length. Mom, Dad and baby are all doing well.  And Tanya and John are thrilled and over the moon to be new grandparents to this sweet addition to their family!