Discernment – Pastor Rebecca

Discernment is an ever-increasing capacity to “see” the work of God in the midst of the human situation, that we can align ourselves with whatever God is doing.  Discernment is a quality of attentiveness to God that, over time, develops our sense of God’s heart and purpose in the moment. (“How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You Are Going” by Susan Beaumont, p 68) 

In the last number of years, we have been experiencing decline in our congregation, like many other mainline protestant churches.  Over those years the boards and congregation have explored ideas and dabbled in possibilities.  (“Reimagining Church” series at Good News, Congregational retreats, “Food, Faith and Future”, etc.)  In 2018, at the direction of church council the Unified Board set up a Future Visioning Study Committee to help our congregation move through a process to understand the challenges in our future and to begin the work of meeting those challenges together. 

In two events, one in May and the other in July, the congregation gathered for conversation and reflection on the current state of our congregation.  There were a variety of ideas for how we might meet the challenges from merging with another congregation, closing our doors, redevelopment of our property, becoming a Moravian fellowship, etc.  Then in September, we met with Rev. Susan Nienaber, who shared that our congregation is in the good company of many other communities of faith who are working to discern what God wants them to be about in a changing world.  She told us that many congregations in our situation either chose to Re-innovate which requires a large shift in the way we do things to enter into a new growth cycle or they move to considering the Legacy they want to leave to their community.  These conversations have now been marinating in our minds for the month of October.  You may have an idea of what you think would be best for the congregation or what your personal preference would be, which is important information.  However, before we delve into more decisions, let’s take some time to listen for God in the midst of this.   In her book, “How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You Are Going”, Susan Beaumont writes about the differences between decision making and discernment.  Both processes are vital to one another but they are not the same.  In discernment she encourages us to enter into listening without our own predetermined opinions, as much as we can, so that we can listen freely to the Holy Spirit’s guiding among us.  In the next 8 weeks, we are all invited to this practice of discernment.  This is difficult work and we all need to lean into compassion and patience with one another because we each come to this time holding different expectations, hopes and fears.  It is my hope that this time of discernment will help us to find some common ideas to explore and that we will find doors opening for us. 

Resetting Routines – Pastor Rebecca

Getting back into the routine of work brings with it an opportunity to get reorganized, to reset priorities and to start new rhythms.  While sometimes we are met with the challenge of reorganization by transitions in life, health or work, we can also choose to reset ourselves. How often do you reflect on your routine of prayer, worship, and community?  When you take a step back to consider your rhythms are there things that you would like to tweak?  Maybe you have been taking time to do devotions in the kitchen, might it give you a boost if you simply changed to the living room. I think it is a valuable practice and one that has been a part of the Christian tradition from the beginning.  Jesus was never one to follow the status quo…he kept changing things up, stepping back to reflect and pray and came in to readjust again.  After that the Apostles and churches that were established followed Jesus’ example.  They spent time out in the communities around them and responding to the needs they saw.  I believe this work was made possible by the time they spent in prayer together.  Prayer has the ability to open us to God’s will in different ways and sometimes all we need is to switch it up to see a new perspective.

I would like to set up a time to pray together outside of Sunday morning worship.  What might we discover if we came together during the week to pray with and for one another?  What might God begin to say to us about how God is at work in us for the future?  I will be working in October to set up a time for a drop-in prayer time at EMC.  I would love for you to join me!  If you also feel like you want to be a part of making space for a prayer group, please let me know.

Listening for God to Speak – Pastor Trina

If you want to touch the past TOUCH A ROCK.  If you want to touch the present TOUCH A FLOWER.  If you want to touch the future TOUCH A LIFE.

If you’ve been at church for the last month you have seen this on the bulletin board. We have been spending time in worship thinking about the past and the present and will spend time with the future as well. 

This is a time of listening for God to speak. As we peek into different parts and times of our life, as we allow the curtain to be drawn back (revelation) we listen for God’s voice. Sometimes we feel like God is silent and that may be true, but sometimes it is because we are not hearing what we want to hear or not trusting what we hear.

I know someone who for part of their college course had to go and teach in a foreign country. They were a youth leader and hoped to fulfill that season before having to go on the trip. Two opportunities presented themselves. One meant leaving youth early and one was exactly what was prayed for. Easy decision? Sometimes we make the answer harder than it needs to be.

Someone else I knew said they never prayed for life path or job because they were scared that God might ask them to do something they didn’t want to do. Sometimes I think if we do pray for direction we won’t hear God until our direction is chosen (subconsciously of course).

Here we are looking at how God has blessed Edmonton Moravian in the past and how the church has blessed God and those around us. It feels good to remember the good. But there have been many ups and downs and difficult decisions to make. Some changed the course of the church (location) and some affirmed the current way. Today we see that families are smaller, children grow and leave home and church. Numbers fall and our elders begin to step into the nearer presence of God. Much has changed (size) and much has remained (a deep sense of community and belonging).

The focus for most of the time I have been here is discerning the future God has for Edmonton Moravian. We are listening, the question is are we hearing? There is a gathering sense of God’s future vision. May you continue your journey together making the best decisions you can, knowing that God IS in your midst and IS leading your hearts and minds. “Well done, good and faithful servant[s]! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).

Go boldly and trust God to direct.    

Love to all my sisters and brothers, Pastor Trina

P.S.  September 8 will be my final Sunday worshiping with you. On the 9th Ken and I fly off to Nepal for our fifth trip together (we return the end of November). It has been two years and we have greatly missed our friends and the work that is going on there. Thank you for welcoming us into your community: it has been a pleasure walking with you during these months. Please keep us in your prayers and we will keep you in ours. Thank you for all the financial support you have given for us and for the ministry in Nepal. We will let you know all about our time and work there.  We go with joy feeling blessed by you and by God.

A Season for All Things – Pastor Trina

John 12:24  (NLT)  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.

Change is never easy. I have lived in more places than you can count on your fingers and toes combined. Each one brought stress both good and bad. There are always positives and negatives to every decision we make and many emotions that go with each option. I have noticed that when I let God lead and plant me that there are a lot of good things that happen: Meeting people, supporting them in time of need, building friendships, answering or simply talking about some of those tough questions. Sometimes I feel as though I had done nothing but then someone says something and I realize that a small difference can bring about greater things. I have grown because of other people and places as well. I am a very different person than I was 20 or 30 years ago.

Refusing a change sometimes seems like a good idea. We hope the need for the change will pass – things can and do get better – sometimes.  While other times we know there will come a day when the choice is made for us when we wait too long. Vehicles sometimes decide for us. You have a great car and you want to keep it forever. You do everything to keep it going but sometimes there is no more repair to be done and the choice of another vehicle is thrust upon you while you are unprepared. It’s like throwing out a bunch of kernels and whichever one sprouts first that’s the one you grab (good or bad).

Some things we do not control such as the seasons. We learn to grumble but adapt. There are things to be enjoyed in each season and so we move on. We live into the good of each season. Enjoying it and bidding it adieu as we travel to the next.

Choices like moving to seniors’ homes can feel like a seed falling and dying but God can use you wherever you are. We often see these kinds of changes as bad and lash out as we see our independence ebb away. When it is our choice it goes a little easier than when others are forced to make the choice for us.

Letting go is so difficult especially when we are comfortable with whatever it is. Let the seed of independence or your desire die and see what harvest God might bring forward in the new kernels. Ecclesiastes reminds us that everything has a season and all seasons are filled with opportunities for new and bountiful life. Blessings to others can be given and new life started.

Our community prayer has been “Infuse your hope and love in us, O God, as we face the challenges of this time in our ministry. Make YOUR way clear to us as we set our intentions towards the faithful action of discernment and decision. Amen.” What seeds do we need to allow to die in order for a new harvest to come forward?  Change can be scary, but it does not mean an end because as the kernel dies new life can then spring up. What might a new harvest look like? I’m afraid you say – I’m unsure at the moment. That’s okay, but know “Jesus said, ‘But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid.’” Luke 12:7 (The Daily Text for June 26)

P.S. A change is happening in September. The eighth will be my last Sunday worshiping with you as Ken and I will once again be journeying to Nepal to help our friends plant seeds in the school and be a part of the three churches there.  Please keep us in your prayers as we raise funds and make changes, planting and being planted for God. Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow.

Why Is the Sky Blue – Pastor Trina

Most of us have probably asked this question; or at least we have been asked it via a child.

What’s the answer? 

It’s blue just because it is, because God made it that way.

Why do we always have to give answers?

I think most of us would say it takes too much time to help someone think about the question or help them find answers. Maybe we aren’t sure of the answer and we are afraid to admit it. Maybe…

If God created us to be in relationship with one another couldn’t the exploration of possible answers be a means of spending time together? We live in a world with so many conveniences that save time – still we don’t have time to sit together with questions. When Ken asks me a question and I have no answer I enjoy looking on the internet and finding the answer. Sometimes it means stopping what we are doing to take the time to read the whole answer and maybe a little trivia as well. I like finding answers and as a pastor sometimes I find myself sharing the answers without helping people to sit with and explore the question. I enjoy when we stop during worship to share thoughts, feelings, etc. I feel closer to you. I feel like we are walking and learning together.

May 19 following worship we chose to spend time together and ask some questions. So often we rattle off what we think or what we feel and we don’t stop to listen to each other. This day we stopped. We ate together, we shared some important questions to help us to hear one another and to think intentionally about Edmonton Moravian.

We worked at not giving answers and we worked at listening to each other for the sake of listening. I believe events like this draw us closer. They can also show where our hearts are. What do we feel about this place and this space. What is God saying and are we willing to listen. Is there a direction that God is leading and who is God able to get to listen and share.

Talk, ask questions, listen, share. Together God will reveal answers.

Why is the sky blue?

Peace,

Pastor Trina