July 26, 2020

GOD over the last week we have witnessed your presence in the weather and in our environment. We
have seen your power in the winds and the rains. We are also starting to reap the benefits of what we
have sown in the garden. Again another reminder that your creation is alive and abounding in our
environment and world. Despite these troubled times with COVID we do not have to look far for signs
of your presence.

I am reminded about the time that you were in the boat with the disciples and the seas became wild.
You calmly rebuked the seas and things returned to normal. Much like the disciples we get anxious,
confused and a host of other emotions. I am sure that in this time of Pandemic we have all felt a gamut of emotions. We need to recognize that they are real and raw. We may feel like the disciples that our boat is rocking and waving and there is no end in sight other than potential peril. There appears to be no concrete answers yet in this time of Pandemic. For every question asked it brings up 2-3 more questions which may make us feel even more confused. And yet your presence, love and
encouragement are all around us. I pray that as followers of you we look for you and name our fears
and then recognize you have sent us support. I know I have felt it in this past week in our vegetable
garden, in the fierceness and then calmness the storm last Sunday, in the rivers that run calm and then fast when running over rapids, in the tiny yet colourful birds that land on a stalk of grass, in the beautiful sunsets and colourful skies.

God forgive us when we lose sight of your presence all around us and become self-centred, nervous and anxious. In this time of Pandemic challenge let’s lift our eyes and look for the signs that are truly all around us. When we do see these signs I think we can actually find strength to forge on as well as be servants of you again.

Thank you God for being beside us and calming our raging seas. Thank you for your presence in
everything around us when we finally lift our eyes and look. My prayer and challenge for all of us is that we take the time to look for and identify God’s presence and love that is all around us.

May we take the time to look…..God Bless .

June 21, 2020 (Father’s Day)

Happy Father’s Day!

During this time of pandemic we have been using the “Take our Moments and our Days” app and have been enriched through Scripture, sharing, and prayer. Since Pentecost our guided prayer has been based on the Lord’s Prayer.
The following is a prayer from a Friday gathering.
Let us pray,

Rejoice in the Lord always. The Lord is near.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.

God of open hands, we bring our prayers to
you as acts of love for you and for our neighbours.
Lord, hear our prayer.

You provide for all our needs from your bounty.
We pray for ourselves and those dear to us ……..
Lord, give us today our daily bread.

You work wonders in surprising places.
We pray for our community and for our neighbours (add your prayers)
Lord, give us today our daily bread.

You furnish abundance even from very little
We pray for the church in all places, that we may reflect your faithful love. (add your prayers)
Lord give us today our daily bread.

You send forth your Spirit, a breath of renewal and hope.
We pray for the world, for those in need (add your prayers)
Lord give us today our daily bread.

We offer you other concerns we carry in our hearts (add your prayers)
Lord, give us today our daily bread.

God of grace and glory,
you fling the stars into the heavens;
you see every sparrow fall.
Deepen our trust in the mystery
of your power shining through Christ Jesus,
that we may live your love for the world.
In the name of the one who taught us we pray:
Our Father…………

Amen

June 17, 2020

Good morning!

These past months have held many challenges as well as opportunities as we have responded and adapted amidst a global pandemic.Through congregational conversations over the past months a number of concerns have been voiced. In response, WMC Elders have planned for a series of virtual panel discussions. While these offerings will not address all that we carry, they are a platform to provide information as well as prompt further discussion.

Here is a note from Dan Lebold, WMC Elder and facilitator of our first panel discussion:

From input from our WMC family we (WMC Elders) have begun to put together Virtual Panel discussions around how COVID has affected us. The first of these Virtual Panel discussion topics is “COVID and Finances.” Jamie Gerber joined the panel and provided some very informative answers to financial questions posed to him during the COVID crisis. As many of you know Jamie currently works in the financial industry and has some insights from that perspective. Jamie has also been a pastor for 17 years and looks at finances from a faith perspective as well. Thank you to Jamie for his valuable financial/ faith input and energies in being a part of this first Virtual Panel Discussion. We trust you will find it relative and informative for these challenging times. Stay tuned for further Panel discussions.“

June 10, 2020

Events in the past weeks have brought the discussion of racism, white privilege, injustice, and more, to the forefront.
As followers of Jesus we have committed to the journey of formation and transformation as Christ’s disciples. The journey of transformation is complex. Spiritual transformation involves learning. Spiritual transformation also involves un-learning and re-learning.
Glennon Doyle in her latest book “Untamed” writes, “In America, there are not two kinds of people, racists and nonracists. There are three kinds of people: those poisoned by racism and actively choosing to spread it; those poisoned by racism and actively trying to detox: and those poisoned by racism who deny its very existence inside them.”

Spiritual transformation is the ongoing journey of growing in awareness of the unredeemed parts that reside deep within. May the Spirit’s gentle presence abide with you/us as we listen, learn, examine, recognize,repent, and are transformed through the power of God’s Spirit….
Let us pray,

I have only a few words
in this feeble prayer.

I am listening.
I am learning.
I am examining myself.

I am trying to recognize
how the system of racism
lives in and through me.

It’s like a tangled up ball of yarn.
I untangle one layer only to encounter another.

Until it’s all untangled, the yarn cannot
be knit, the potential of the yarn
is compromised.
(Prayer by Rev. Terri C. Pilarski)

May 27, 2020

This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost (Acts 2: 1-21). Often at Pentecost we concentrate on the power of the wind that swept in,  the power of the Holy Spirit that caused people to speak in other tongues, or we focus on Pentecost as a foundational event in the life of the Christian church. Another focus to consider is the power of the Holy Spirit to transcend difference. After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a large crowd began to gather outside. In that crowd were Jews and people from many nations: Greeks, Arabs, Romans, Africans, and more. Each of the people in the crowd could understand the conversation in the upper room in their own language. On that day, the Holy Spirit transcended multiple layers of differences to accomplish God’s many purposes.

Where do you witness the power of the Holy Spirit transcending differences? What are barriers that you can name that cause separation? What are the costs? As we anticipate Pentecost may we be bold to pray that the Holy Spirit will transform our hearts and minds. May the Holy Spirit reveal to us in deeper ways, God’s many purposes and may we be strengthened to join in God’s mission.

        Holding you in prayer, Kara

May 20, 2020

This week’s reflection comes from Delores Schwartzentruber, one of the Elders of WMC.

To begin today’s reflection I have a story to share.  Visiting my mother-in-law Martha, on speaker phone from the sidewalk  as we looked at one another through her window of her apartment, she shared some of her struggles after returning from hospital and being in the middle of 14 days of quarantine.  She told me how the other day, feeling particularly low, she had  reached for a blank lined book that she had in her possession and felt she should write down some of her feelings.  There in the front of the book she discovered  a small square piece of paper written by her late husband Gerald. It was a reflection of his feelings with words of comfort and assurance of how the Lord provides for our needs. These words felt like they were raining down on me from above as the raindrops were starting to literally rain down.  Martha received exactly what she needed when she read his words. I stood in the rain of this holy moment and thanked God for his marvelous presence.   

What are your stories of God’s comfort and assurance at a time when you needed it? Did they come at a time or form that surprised you? How do we open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, our hearts to feel and be attentive to his loving care?  What holy moments have you been attentive to in these days of physical distancing and isolation? While it might be easy to see God in the midst of extraordinary circumstances, it is sometimes difficult to detect him in the ordinary events of our lives.  But that is exactly where you and I live.  Wherever you are God is with you.

 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37: 4-5)

Let us Pray:  Give us the eyes to see, the ears to listen, the heart to feel, and the hands and  legs to join in your good work.  May we be attentive to all the blessings you rain down on each one of us even in unexpected ways.  May we be ready and expectant to be surprised even in the ordinary events of our lives. Amen

May 13, 2020

Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.” (Donald P. McNeill, Douglas A. Morrison, and Henri J. M. Nouwen, Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life (New York: Image Books, 1983), 3-4.  

Joyce Rupp in her book Boundless Compassion: Creating a Way of Life suggests that in today’s society it often seems as if cruelty is more extensive than kindness. Would you agree with Rupp’s assertion?  Where do you bear witness to compassion? How are you met with compassion?  

Broken, wounded, violent, divisive, fearful – these are some descriptors of our current global situation. Our world stands in desperate need of compassion – for compassion to be activated. The world and our wounds will not heal without it. Rupp writes, “Only with compassion at the core of humanity’s lived experience will we be able to approach one another with true respect and dwell in peacefulness.”

Let us pray:  Give us compassion and humility in our hearts O God. Let us be kind, gentle, generous, loving, and giving wherever we go. Amen.

Holding you in prayer as God enfolds us with compassion,   

Kara

May 6, 2020

Friends,

What have you been noticing around home these past weeks? During this pandemic when many of us are spending far more time at home as we self-isolate what are you seeing with fresh eyes? Perhaps its birds at the feeder. Perhaps you have a deeper appreciation for growing and living things outdoors. While spotted windows and cob webs may catch our attention, consider the  sights that cause you to pause and reflect. One of our neighbours has been pruning fruit trees over the past weeks. I’ve noticed the gentle tending of branches, crucial spring work to promote a bountiful crop of fruit.

In John 15 we read “I am the vine, and my Father in the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” (John 15: 1-2,4-5)

What spiritual practices enable you to abide in God?. What practices deepen your awareness to God’s loving presence, God’s yearnings, God’s invitation? The Quaker tradition values silence. Indeed, worship often includes 1 hour of communal silence. Does music draw you into the presence of God? A walk in nature? Deep breathing? Journalling?

As we journey deeply into this unknown season and dwell in the liminal space between an ending and a new beginning, may we strive to abide in God. May God nourish our spirits. May God reveal to us that which needs pruning. May God’s Spirit enliven us with new growth as God continues to shape and form us as the people of God. 

Let us pray:

Lord of the

one true

Vine,

in you we

live and move

and have our being.

We are your branches

spindly and slight and fragile.

Prune us,

though gently.

We want to bear more 

of your fruit. Amen

(adapted by Anne Osdieck)

May 3, 2020

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!Uplifted by the promised hope of healing and resurrection, we join with the people of God in all times and all places praying for our needs, those of the world, and the church: 

May healing continue to be gentle. Let us pray for comfort and peace in the coming weeks in order to determine next steps. We hold in prayer those with ongoing health concerns and the vulnerable.
Let us continue to pray for all those who grieve. The grief journey is complicated when we are not able to gather as a community. May God’s comfort be wide and deep, holding us all.
We pray for all our long-term care residents. We also pray for all front-line and essential workers. May they be well-protected, kept safe, and encouraged. For parents who are juggling home-schooling, working from home, and uncertainty, may peace abound. 
Let us pray for comfort and good recovery. Health crises are compounded these days when loved ones can not gather around.  May peace and strength and hope prevail.  
For our needs, fears, concerns, and for all suffering due to Covid 19, we offer our prayers in the strong name of Jesus.

Happy Birthday to all!         

Entrusting all of our prayers to the wide embrace of God love Lord hear our prayers. Amen.

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   

March 28, 2020

A blessing for you for this time of “social isolation.” A Blessing for Solitude by John O’Donohue from his book Benedictus.
“May you recognize in your life the presence,Power and light of your soul.May you realize you are never alone,That your soul in its brightness and belonging,Connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.May you have respect for your individuality and difference.May you realize the shape of your soul is unique.That you have a special destiny here.That beyond the facade of your lifeThere is something beautiful and eternal happening.May you learn to see yourselfWith the same delightPride and expectationWith which God sees you in every moment.May we all feel blessed and strong during this difficult time.

My prayers are with you,Kara

March 27, 2020

Today as we continue to pray our breath prayers we also pray with lament and hope. 

Together we raise our song with resolve: “I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night time of your fear.”

Consider lighting a candle each day for a specific person or situation.

Where is hope needed most? For yourself? For your family? For our world? 

“It feels like things are not ok

And this ‘thing’ will never go away

Life all around is caving in

And no-one knows where to begin

‘What-ifs’ and fears are on the rise

And nobody’s able to disguise

The sadness of this sudden change

To life, a routine; it’s strange

But sit a moment with that thought

Forget the things that you’ve been taught

For awhile there’s no rat race

A slower life put in its place

We suddenly have the space to stop

The cusp of spring still breaks its sleep

Our birds return to trill and cheep

And hope and kindness start to bloom”

(author unknown)

As we practice necessary social distancing, may our prayers draw us near to God as God draws near to us with hope and love.

holding the Christ-light for you, 

Kara 

March 26, 2020

Greetings all,     

My apologies to those of you who are receiving this twice today. I am still getting the “bugs” out of the group email.

On Tuesday we explored the ancient spiritual practice of “breath prayers.” Using Scripture we inhaled and exhaled deeply in order to be present and grounded at this tumultuous time. 

What Scripture (s) were you drawn to? Did you experience peace? hope?  

To further our “breath prayer” practice I have provided a guide to help us go deeper with God.

1. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and remember that God loves you and you are in God’s presence.

2. Imagine God calling you by name, asking “(Your name), what do you want?”

3. Answer God honestly with whatever word or phrase comes from deep within you.

4. Choose your favorite or most natural name for God.

5. Combine your name for God with your word or phrase to form a brief prayer that flows smoothly.

Examples:

What I Want 

Peace

Love

Guidance

Name for God

God

Jesus

Eternal Light

Possible Prayer

Let me know your peace, O God.

Jesus, let me feel your love.

Eternal Light, guide me in your way.

Repeat the prayer for a few minutes, allowing the words to settle into a regular rhythm. If more than one idea arises, you may need to ponder what the deepest desire of your heart is. A helpful question to ask is, What do I want that will make me feel most whole? In creating your own breath prayer, you might take several days of reflection to discover what is best for you. Be patient, and let the words emerge from your deepest longings. When you have discovered your prayer, begin to practice it at different times during the day. You might pray it before you get out of bed in the morning or prior to retiring for the day. You may pray it when you are out for a walk.  You could breathe and pray when you become anxious, frustrated, or bored. 

Breath prayers remind us that praying is as natural as breathing.

Let us pray,

Kara

March 25, 2020

“When we call out for help, we are bound more powerfully to God through our needs and weakness, our unfulfilled hopes and dreams, and our anxieties and problems than we ever could have been through our joys, successes, and strengths alone. .” writes Brian McLaren in his book Naked Spirituality.

Today let us respond to MCC’s call to prayer and Pope Francis’ invitation to join globally, praying the Lord’s Prayer at noon. It is my prayer that as we pray we may be bound more powerfully to our God. 

God’s people globally pray the prayer Jesus taught his disciples in many languages and many versions. Perhaps pray the version that feels most at home for you and then pray an alternate version today. For example, the Lord’s Prayer which comes to us from the New Zealand prayer book. 

Praying with new language, be attentive to that which catches your heart’s attention. Is there an image that is prominent? What names for God resonate for you? Be curious. Be attentive. Be open. 

We offer our prayers today to God, trusting God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer hears us when we pray and will respond with love and grace.  

Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life giver

Source of all that is

and all that shall be

Father and Mother of us all

Loving God, in whom is heaven

The hallowing of your name 

echo through the universe.

The way of your justice be followed

by the peoples of the world!

Your heavenly will be done by all

created beings

Your commonwealth of peace and 

freedom sustain our hope and come

on earth

With the bread we need for today,

feed us,

In the hurts we absorb from one

another, forgive us,

In times of temptation and test,

strengthen us,

From trials too great to endure,

spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil,

free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love now and forever.

And all God’s people said, Amen!!

God’s peace be yours,

Kara 

March 24, 2020

“Cast all your anxiety on God, because God cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

          It is an anxious time as non-essential businesses are poised to shut down tonight. Anxieties related to finances, our health and that of our loved ones….. the list of concerns is long.  We are uncertain about many things as our Lenten journey continues. Amidst the uncertainty my heart is warmed to hear how we are adjusting daily. Today, I received an email with photo attached showing a face mask that had just been sewn. Further supplies are on order and response to urgent need is under way. In a  phone call earlier today, a congregant shared how she placed notes in her rural neighbour’s mailboxes asking that email addresses be shared with the hope neighbours could become connected at this uncertain time. How delighted that neighbours responded and are connecting.   

     How did you reach out today with your heart, with your words, with compassion where you could not touch?. Our loving actions are a way to counter anxiety and fear. Prayer also helps to keep us centered and present.

       The practice of “breath prayers” is an ancient form of prayer. A breath prayer is as simple as choosing two short lines to meditate upon. Inhaling deeply with one short phrase and exhaling through second, can help keep us grounded and conscious of God’s presence with us during this uncertain time. Drawing upon Scripture, here are some options:

Inhale: Humble and gentle One,

Exhaule: you are rest for my soul   (Matthew 11. 28-30)

Inhale: True Vine and Gardener,

Exhale: I abide in You   (John 15)

Inhale: Nothing can separate me

Exhale: from the love of God   (Romans 8: 38-39)

Inhale: Be still

Exhale: and know that I am God    (Psalm 46:10)

Inhale: On earth

Exhale: as it is in heaven   (Matthew 6:10)

Inhale: I will not be afraid

Exhale: for You are with me (Psalm 23)

May we draw near to God as God draws near to us for the living of these days. May we continue to reach out to one another as God in love reaches out to us. 

Inhale:  Peace of Christ

Exhale: guard my heart   (Philippians 4:7)

Amen, 

Held in prayer,

Kara     

March 23, 2020

This morning as we pray for one another, our neighbours, and our world, let us be assured and comforted knowing the Lord is near. 

Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ” 

(Phil. 4: 4-7)

Beneath this morning’s blanket of snow, lies a spring that waits to blossom in all her beauty. What lies in wait within you? What seed is growing with new dimension? Following a fallow season, bulbs emerge from the cold earth with new life. Seeds need to crack open for new beauty and new life to appear. What’s growing within you with possibility?  As the song writer pens, “Unrevealed until its season something God alone can see.”       

A Morning Offering:

I bless the night that nourished my heart

To set the ghosts of longing free

Into the flow and the figure of dream

That went to harvest from the dark

Bread for the hunger no one sees

All that is eternal in me

Welcomes the wonder of this day,

The field of brightness it creates

Offering time for each thing

To arise and illuminate.

I place on the altar of dawn:

The quiet loyalty of breath,

The tent of thought where I shelter,

Waves of desire I am shore to 

And all beauty drawn to the eyes.

May my mind come alive today

To the invisible geography

That invites me to new frontiers,

To break the dead shell of yesterdays,

To rise being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today

to live the life that I would love,

To postpone my dream no longer

But do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more. 

(by John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us p, 9)   

May God’s peace hold you and all you love. 

The Lord is near!

love & prayers, 

Kara

March 21, 2020

“Resurrection Christ,you germinate seeds ofnew life in the burned andbarren places in our world,and in the brokenness of our lives,growing beauty, hope, and loveon delicate stems rising up from the ash.”

– poem by Wendy Janzen, Pastor St. Jacobs Mennonite Church:

May God hold you and all you in love in peace, hope and love,

Kara

March 19, 2020

Friends,At this time of social distancing we draw near to God as God draws near to us in love.I am sharing this meaningful prayer which was shared with me by a congregant earlier this morning.Let us pray, 

Lockdown

 Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing.  Amen

 Pastor Kara Carter

March 18, 2020

Dear friends,

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One, your Savior. ….. you are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you. Do not fear, for I am with you.: (Isaiah 43: 1-5)

The prophet Isaiah’s word came at a time when God’s people were in exile. They were far from home including distanced from their place of worship. They were fearful and despairing whether their God had abandoned them. Into that wilderness time of uncertainty, fear, and displacement, God spoke words of love, hope, and the assurance of Divine faithful accompaniment.

These past days I have drawn comfort and strength through Isaiah’s prophetic message. As God’s people, we are assured that as we journey this pandemic wilderness season, God is with us. God holds us in a wide and strong embrace. God the Good Shepherd’s rod and staff are our source of comfort and strength (Ps. 23).

“Do not fear” – we hear this over and again throughout Scripture. While fear is a natural human response we need not be overcome. When we pass through that dark valley of fear, we are assured God is with us, loves us, and will bring us home.

We are living in an extraordinary time. We are holding our loved ones close to our hearts. We are concerned for our health and our global brothers and sisters especially the aged and vulnerable. Daily life has been disrupted. Children are home from school. Universities and colleges have ceased in-person classroom teaching. Recreation facilities and others have closed. Large gatherings have been banned. Changes in our work places are evolving day to day. Economic volatility creates uncertainty. Some of our congregational family members are in self-quarantine. Others are dealing with significant health issues including awaiting transfer for rehabilitation. Our hearts and love are extended to those who gather at hospice. In this extraordinary time be assured good people of God, “God is with us!!”

Last evening WMC Board met for an on-line email meeting along with Jane Kuepfer (SRC chairperson) and Grant Nafziger (Elders chairperson). WMC leadership and staff are learning new and creative ways to meet and I am delighted to share with you that last evening’s “experiment” was a success! I give thanks for WMC leadership!

Yesterday morning Premier Doug Ford announced a state of emergency for the province of Ontario. MCEC denominational leadership followed up, strongly encouraging the cancellation of all congregational activities (worship services, Lent services, in-person board meetings, etc.) until March 31. WMC Board believes cancelling all in-person gatherings is a faithful response for this time. While we cannot meet together at  

this time, ministry continues. We continue to be the church!

To keep you informed:

Staff Relations Committee has been in contact with all WMC staff. Work situations have been evaluated and adjusted to fit with current realities.

I will be working primarily from home but available by phone and email (cell 519-749-5008 or kara@wellesleymennonite.ca).

Susan will be working mostly at the church with doors locked for safety. She is available by phone and email and will continue to look after invoices, offering, Info Sheet and other communications (519-656-2700 or office@wellesleymennonite.ca)

Clare will work exclusively from home. Jeanette will continue to clean the church and use time not needed for usual weekly tasks to clean more deeply and disinfect.

At this time of disruption, please pray for our staff and consider email and phone calls with words of encouragement and care.

Last evening the Board approved the formation of a “Pandemic Response Team.” This team’s primary agenda will be to monitor the situation, inform congregational leadership, and communicate, including offering recommendations. This vital team includes: Dan Lebold (519-504-1550), Delores, Schwartzentruber (519-504-7475), and Betty Ann Glauser (519-656-3582 from 7-9 pm).

Worship Committee has been in conversation over the past days, exploring a number of options for on-line worship. Further details will be forthcoming.

Because expenses are ongoing, please consider how best to continue regular givings. Stewardship & Finance offer a number of options:

1) drop cheques off in the outdoor mail box when Susan is in the office

2) write out your cheques and date for the Sundays that we are closed

3) etransfer: office@wellesleymennonite.ca

4) contact a Stewardship and Finance for cheque pick up

Care Team encourages us to consider how we can help each other at this time. By getting groceries or calling people who live alone we can show the love of Christ to those around us. We serve a loving God and we have a living hope in Christ Jesus. Let us cling to this sure steadfast anchor of the soul (Heb. 6:19) and encourage others to find refuge in God, our sure and present help in times of trouble (Ps 46). At

At this time, we have an opportunity to be the church in new ways. While we cannot be physically present we can still connect through phones calls, emails, or video chats. Let us check in regularly with our neighbours and one another.

At this time of “social distancing” may we draw near to God as God draws near to us. “Do not be afraid” says our God “I am with you.”

With a pastor’s love,
Kara

March 13, 2020


Dear friends,

Recent news about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID 19) has raised concerns for many of us for the well-being of people across the globe including potentially our own communities and neighborhoods. On Wednesday March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic.

In response, let us join in prayer for all who are affected by this disease. May God be with those who grieve, are ill, isolated and afraid, and the many first responders and people involved in medical and emergency care. We pray specifically for the people of China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, and other nations where the disease is spreading rapidly. May we together express support for our global neighbors and communities, that racism and prejudice be confronted among us. Let us also pray for world leaders that responsive policy be grounded in compassion and justice rather than fear and protectionism.

Let us also pray that we may resist allowing our fear to overwhelm us. We trust in “God with us,” and in the revelation of God in Christ Jesus who spoke often in the Gospels, “do not be afraid.”

It is important to be informed about risks and precaution at this time. While the Region of Waterloo reports that risk to residents remains low, there are a number of ways we can protect ourselves and others.  

Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services release regular community bulletins including precautions to prevent the spread of germs and viruses:

·         Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

·         Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

·         Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

·         Stay home when you are sick.

·         Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

·         Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Wellesley Mennonite leadership want to ensure best practices in our worship and community life together, especially for the sake of those most vulnerable to this and other diseases.

Concerning specific worship practices, the following changes are being implemented:

 ·         Greeting one another in ways that does not include shaking hands or embracing is strongly encouraged.

·         Hand sanitizer is readily available in and around our worship and gathering spaces for everyone’s use.

·         Staff Relations Committee is following up regarding cleaning and disinfecting surfaces according to local health guidelines in our public spaces of worship and gathering, especially washrooms, door handles, light switches, kitchen surfaces.

·         Worship Committee has made a decision that microphone will not circulate throughout the congregation during sharing time. Additionally, offering plates will not be passed through the congregation. Rather, congregants are invited to bring their offerings forward during worship.

·         Conversation regarding best practices for Good Friday communion preparation and serving is ongoing.

·         In addition, appropriate food safe practices, including thorough hand washing, washing of dishes, careful preparing and serving of food and beverages will be followed for all gatherings.

·         Conversation is underway regarding providing electronic links to join worship services or meetings via video conferencing.

·         Food and drinks will not be shared.   

It is my hope and prayer that our appropriate concern for public health and well-being in our communities does not diminish our full and enthusiastic participation in worship and community life together. We trust in God’s continuing care for all in response to this health challenge before us.

May God bless us this Lenten season as we anticipate Easter celebration.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Kara

March 31, 2020

Friends,

While some of us are feeling the fullness of over stuffed days, others are struggling with isolation, loneliness, and depression.

Wherever you find yourself today, whatever you are feeling today, we pray together with confidence knowing we are not alone.  

Loving God,

our minds have much too much time these days…..

Help us to leave our fear and 

anxieties with You

that the living water you give us

might fill us with refreshing peace.

This day, let our hearts be fed by thankfulness…..

Let our heads be fed by a sense of solidarity……

for we are not alone

but rather are surrounded

by a great cloud of witnesses

and filled with the healing power of Your Holy Spirit.

Thanks be to you, O God. Amen

(this prayer was written by my friend Presbyterian Pastor Gwen Ament).   

May God’s peace hold you and your loved ones,

Kara