April 29, 2020

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?” (Ps. 13:1-2). 

Over one third (50 or so) of the psalms are lament. Lament frequently occurs in the Book of Job: “why did I not perish at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?” (Job 3:11). Prophets also cried out to God such as Jeremiah: “Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable?” (Jer. 15:18). The Book of Lamentation expresses the confusion and suffering felt after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Jesus himself lamented in the Garden of Gethsemane, crying out: “Abba, Father all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me!” (Mark 14:36). And in agony on the cross Jesus cried out words of Psalm 22: “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

Lament is a faithful prayer. Amidst global pandemic and the deep sufferings of the world, lament gives voice to the present reality that things are not right and we need God to heal us, save us, deliver us. In the past weeks we hear the rising cry: “How long will physical distancing continue?” “How long until the economy re-opens?” “How long until children return to school?” How long until we can come together physically for worship.. return to work…….?

Where do you hear “how long?” For what do you cry out to God:”How long O Lord, how long?” 

Something significant happens in the psalms of lament that is worth taking note. In psalms of lament a shift occurs. A transition unfolds. In the psalms we see how lament turns to praise. For example in Psalm 13: “but I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because God has dealt bountifully with me.” (vs 5-6).

Let us be bold in our prayers, bringing our struggles to God. We need space for lament. Some of us looked forward to graduation and prom. Others looked forward to milestone celebrations, birthday parties, travelling, a June wedding. Lament is real and lament is a faithful prayer. As Easter people we live with the hope of resurrection. Sitting in the darkness of Good Friday is also part of our spiritual journey. 

What are you missing the most these days of lock down? Who are you missing? What loss are you grieving deeply? Today as you offer your prayers, name before God the very depths of your heart, your pain, your questions, your fears, your grief. And when you have laid all bare, listen for the voice of God. Be attentive to how your prayer turns to praise for God’s steadfast love and goodness.

May God who receives our thanksgivings as well as lament, draw near to us as we draw near to God.

love and peace be yours,  

Kara

April 22, 2020

Greetings all!

It is Earth Day…. and today is also Admin Assistant Day! Please take the opportunity to express your appreciation!  

How are you marking Earth Day today?  As we stay in these days, some are enjoying a quieter pace of life. Some are enjoying  outdoor space at home and God’s good creation. Many are delighting in spring blossoms, the budding of trees, birds at the bird feeder, or baby chicks growing. Some of us may be grumbling due to wintery winds. Creation is springing to life and we celebrate God’s faithful and sustaining presence. 

During this season of disorientation we are invited to be attentive to how we are being changed. What is growing within you?  What potential is budding? What fruits of love are ripening? Our spiritual transformation unfolds through reflection, quiet listening for the Spirit of God, and surrender. In what ways is God meeting you in this season, caring for you, encouraging you, growing new life in you?  As we soak in the beauty of all that is coming to life, let us be attentive to what God is saying to us? How do we want to live when the pandemic has passed and we can be together again?  Let us be prayerful and open to God’s invitation. 

Let us pray:

O Great Love,

Divine Presence,

we rejoice in

our Mother Earth

who births us,

nurtures us,

sustains us,

and collects us 

back into her bosom

when our life

is done.

Forgive us for our 

greediness, our

selfishness, our

short-sightedness, our

messiness.

For we have made a 

mess beyond measure.

Let the energy of 

the sunrise

the mystery of 

a butterfly,

the beauty of 

spring flowers,

the fragility of

endangered species,

the toxicity of        

polluted waterways,

the barrenness of

scorched earth

bring us to our knees.

And there, on

our knees,

may we be humbled

to see the earth

with new eyes.

May we be humbled 

to see ourselves

as humus.

May we be humbled 

to recognize we

are but part of an 

intricate web of creation,

a sacred reciprocity

of belonging.

Break open

our hearts

to love as you love.  Amen

(written by Wendy Janzen) 

April 19, 2020

God of resurrection power,
you called your Son out of the tomb
and in so doing, called the whole creation into new life.
Even now, you call us to join your way of resurrection,
you lift our eyes and raise our hearts,
you transform our minds and renew our spirits.
Bring us once again into awareness of your presence,
that we may offer you our worship and our very lives,
and be nourished for your kingdom’s work.
Hear our prayers which we offer in the name of the risen Christ….

Let us also pray for our neighbours, Maple View Mennonite Church as they were accepted as full members of the Ontario Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches in late February. The Maple View congregation expresses appreciation to us as brothers in sisters in Christ and they look forward to continuing as partners with us in mission. As WMC, we also express deep appreciation for the many friendships and family connections between our congregations and for all the ways we have been blessed by these relationships. May God’s Spirit continue to be poured out on the Maple View congregation as they minister and bear witness to the Risen Christ.

We also pray for MCEC Leadership and all who gather on-line this coming Saturday for the Annual Church Gathering. At a time when the church cannot meet in person, we pray for wisdom in decision making, clarity of vision to live into God’s future, and we pray that love and grace will be generous and full. We also pray for the congregations that will be received as provisional members into MCEC, giving thanks for their gifts and their unique contributions to the wider church.

We entrust all our prayers including those we hold deep within to Jesus our Wounded and Risen Christ,
Amen

April 12, 2020

Lord Jesus, you were dead but now are alive,

and the promise of life in all its fullness is made real.

At this time of celebration

let our hearts overflow with joy.

Give us hope and strengthen our faith,

knowing you are with us always,

Alleluia!  Alleluia!

We thank God for the gift of new life!! 

For prayers that have been named and for those we offer on our own, 

we entrust all, in the name of the Risen Christ, Jesus our Lord.

Amen! 

April 10, 2020

On Good Friday, the earth waits in silence.

The world trembles before God’s throne.

On this day we see and feel the immensity of God’s love and the depths of our humanity.

An Order of Worship was emailed to you yesterday which included instructions for preparation for communion. 

May God be present with us as we journey to the cross and gather at the table.

peace be yours,

Kara

April 8, 2020

Read Matthew 26: 27-56 and 1 Corinthians 1:18

Today I’m sharing with you my own morning devotion which was written by a Georgia Atlanta Pastor.

“A  friend recently went back on her word and I felt betrayed. How dare she!

After all, people are supposed to be unfailingly consistent and keep their promises. Integrity is doing the right

thing even when no one is watching. Honesty is the best policy. All that.

But the honest truth is I don’t always ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to living all that. None of us do. We routinely lie, mislead and misrepresent. In doing so we betray ourselves, our values, our relationships, our God. If you deny that you lie, well, you just did.”  

‘One of you will betray me,’ might be the biggest understatement of Holy Week. Jesus doesn’t mention which disciple he has in mind. He doesn’t have to. Jesus was talking about all of them. The betrayal didn’t only come when Judas handed Jesus over to the authorities with a kiss, it happened when the disciples denied they would ever betray Jesus. Their denials flew in the face of Jesus’ teaching that humility and repentance are more blessed than boasting and self-righteousness. 

What makes the week holy is not our pretensions to innocence. What makes this week holy is the invitation to confess our betrayals and be forgiven.” 

Let us pray:

Lord God,

We tremble to think

that it was one of Jesus’ own friends who betrayed him.

One who sat by him who broke bread with him.

Give us strength, we pray

to walk faithfully with Jesus,

even when the road we walk is rocky.

and when the message of the cross seems like foolishness

and even when we feel betrayed.

Give us strength, we pray.

You Lord, are always faithful.

We stumble, we become lost,

but you are steady and sure.

Give us grace to endure our troubles,

and reveal to us the glory of your kingdom,

through your son, Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit.

Amen

April 7, 2020

As we journey deeper into Holy Week, read Matthew 26: 36-46 and Hebrews 5: 5-7.

As you re-read these Scriptures slowly and prayerfully, be attentive. Is there a word, a phrase, an image that stands out for you?

Is there a statement from Jesus or action by the disciples that resonates with you or touches discomfort? 

Imagine being present in the Garden of Gethsemane. What do you hear? What do you feel?   

Sit with all that stirs and captures your attention. What is the Spirit of God revealing to you, saying to you? 

As we accompany Jesus on the path of suffering, offer a prayer for the sufferings of the world.  

Let us pray,

Holy One, 

The message of the cross is difficult to take.

How can death give way to life? How can weakness be strength?

Yet your word says that Jesus, being God,

took on human flesh

and suffered the worst kind of death.

How can this be?

This message is indeed difficult to take.

But your foolishness is wiser than our wisdom

Your weakness is greater than our strength.

Help us to know that none of us can boast before you.

It is only in Christ Jesus that we can boast.

In his name, we ask you to help our unbelief

that we may love you, and walk in the way Jesus taught us

In his name we pray, Amen. 

Pastor Kara Carter

April 6, 2020

Friends, as we journey into Holy Week…..

A reminder that we will gather Thursday April 9 at 11:30 a.m through ZOOM for prayer. You can download the app: “Take our Moments and our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book” at no charge on your phone. I will send out the ZOOM link on Wednesday – please watch for it. If you have any technical questions, Bob Veitch has offered to give you a hand. Please contact him. 

As we anticipate Easter Sunday worship please be on the look-out for sightings of new life emerging.

As we enter Holy Week we are journeying right up to the edge of suffering.

Read Matthew 21: 10-17 and John 12: 1-8

Holy God,

Six days before his death, your son sat with Lazarus,

whom he had raised from the dead,

and ate dinner with his friends.

Once again, your gospel tells us, Martha served,

and Mary knelt at Jesus’ feet

to anoint them with costly perfume.

The disciple who was about to betray him

said that was a waste.

He didn’t care about the poor, really –

he just wanted to fill his own pockets

and make Mary feel ashamed.

Holy God,

often we cannot discern what is best:

when to pour out costly perfume for your sake,

even if the world thinks it a waste,

when to be busy serving,

or when to rest at your Son’s feet and learn.

Give us ears to hear you and eyes to see

for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ

in whose name we pray. Amen

During these days of physical distancing, how is God’s Spirit nudging you to pour out costly perfume? In what ways is God’s Spirit prompting you to reach out and serve? May we be attentive to the movement of God’s Spirit as the shadow of the cross lengthens.

May God’s peace hold you,

Kara

April 5, 2020

The following is a prayer offered the church by Carol Penner. This prayer has been adapted to include congregational prayer needs.

Let us pray,

On this Palm Sunday, things are different.

No children waving palm branches in processions,

no collective singing of hosannas, loud hosannas,

no exultant crowds, here or anywhere.

The streets are quiet.

What resonates is the image of you, Jesus,

weeping over Jerusalem,

crying for a people surrounded by enemies,

who do not know the things that make for peace.

Our tiny, lethal enemy is invisible to the naked eye.

We jump when people cough,

we eye each other suspiciously,

not knowing where the danger is lurking.

We fear for all the vulnerable,

and we fear for ourselves. 

We ask God that you will protect all who tirelessly are working in the health care field. Keep them well and strong.

For loved ones who have been infected by coronavirus and for those who wait on test results,

for needs shared publicly and for those we hold deep within, we pray……  

As our lives are overturned,

and restrictions are put in place,

it’s not business as usual

and economic worries are added to the mix.

Anxiety settles like a dense cloud

over all the world.

We need you more than ever, Jesus.

You arrive humbly, unnoticed by many,

cheered by some.

You arrive in the early morning cars

of health workers showing up for their shifts.

You arrive on eighteen wheels as truckers

unload groceries and essential supplies.

You arrive by public transit as scientists

head to their labs day in and day out,

searching diligently for a virus vaccine.

You arrive on foot as neighbours

deliver meals to seniors stranded at home.

You arrive in the ricochet of signals off satellites,

as cyberspace messages of love circle our globe;

millions reaching out to say,

“Are you OK? I miss you.”

God, hear our prayer

from the lonesome valleys

of this world wide pandemic.

Open our hearts to the possibility

that today is the day of our visitation;

you walk triumphantly through closed doors,

meeting us when others cannot come.

Accept our solitary hosannas,

and gather us together in prayer:

“Blessed is the One

who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Amen

April 3, 2020

Friends,

Today was our first ZOOM prayer gathering. How good it was to be together! It was extra good to see your faces!

All are welcome to join us for our next gathering: Thursday April 9 at 11:30 a.m.

I’ll be sending a ZOOM link early next week.

You can download the Anabaptist Prayer Book “Take Our Moments and Our Days” app on your phone at no charge. And if you don’t download the app you’re still welcome to join a time of Scripture and prayer. 

If you have questions about connecting with ZOOM or had trouble connecting this morning, please contact Bob Veitch. He has offered to help you!

One of the Scriptures provided for us today, Psalm 91.

“Those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High and abide in the shade of the Almighty say to the Lord: ‘ My refuge, my stronghold, my God in whom I trust… God will conceal you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge. You will not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that prowls in the darkness……”

It is my prayer that the assurance of God’s care and protection will hold you steady.

Adding to our Prayer of Examen of these past days, here are further questions to take to prayer:

When did I feel most alive today?

When did I most feel life draining out of me?

When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, others, God?

When did I have the least sense of belonging?

May God’s gentle Spirit provide you with all the peace, and hope, and joy, and love you need for each and every day. 

love & prayers,

Kara 

April 2, 2020

Warm greetings on this bright spring day!

Amidst the greening of spring we proclaim resurrection has come and will come again!!

Yesterday I invited us to pray the Prayer of Examen, an ancient prayer practice that invites us to be attentive to God’s presence in our day.

Today I am offering some new questions as we continue to pray:

When did I give and receive the most love today?

When did I give and receive the least love today?

Again, you may want to light a candle and be still as you take time to reflect on these questions. Be attentive to what comes to mind.  Perhaps jot down your thoughts. Being still helps us to be attentive to all that we’re carrying, our hopes and fears, strengths as well as struggles. Don’t push away feelings that arise, be with them, be curious, and be grateful you can name them.

God is with you and loves you!

Please note below the link or phone info to join together for a ZOOM prayer time tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m.

If you have a computer with  built-in camera use the link to zoom in live! For others, call in -, you won’t see us but we will be able to hear each other.  

It’s the first Sunday of April this week. What celebrations do you have to share? We want to celebrate with you!!

What burdens or concerns are you carrying for which you want prayer.

We haven’t tried a mass ZOOM yet so let’s give it a try!!! 

For our prayer time, please download the Anabaptist Prayer Book app – if you can’t, no worries!!!

Looking forward to joining with you face-to-face and praying together.

love & prayers,

Kara 

April 1, 2020

In their book Sleeping with Bread: Holding what gives you life, the authors share the following story.

“During the bombing raids of World War 2, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, ‘Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.”

Last week we tried out breath prayers with Scripture. We were also invited to try writing our own.

This week, we try another prayer practice: the prayer of examen, another ancient prayer that helps us to be attentive to God’s presence and goodness. The prayer of examen focuses on two questions. 

For today the two questions are:

1. For what moment today am I most grateful?

2. For what moment today am I least grateful? 

You may want to light a candle and be still as you take time to reflect upon these questions. Be attentive to what comes to mind.  Perhaps jot down your thoughts. Being still helps us to be attentive to all that we’re carrying, our hopes and fears, strengths as well as struggles. 

When you get in touch with what you are grateful for, give thanks to God. When you discover something you are not grateful for name it, feel it, and appreciate that you are not denying it. Be reminded that God is with you. 

This prayer practice can be done individually or as a family. As you gather around your dinner table you may want to consider asking these two questions and share your responses with one another. What wisdom might spill from our children as we hold space for their responses?

May God continue to draw near to us as we draw near to God with our gratitude and our needs.

peace be yours,

Kara