In a few weeks Anneke Pries-Klassen, one of our young adults, is heading out on “Enlace” a service/education trip to Guatemala with Mennonite Central Committee. How can spending five weeks in a place like Guatemala change a person? As a church we encourage our young adults to take every opportunity to have experiences like this.
What does it mean to find yourself in a place where you know no one, where you cannot speak the language, and you don’t know your way around? Going to live in another culture a profoundly vulnerable experience, and many people find it quite humbling. We can find ourselves calling on God in a deeper way when we feel we are on the edge. At the same time, God can open our eyes in new ways in a new place.
God calls us at times to leave the familiar and go to the unfamiliar. Abraham and Sarai were told: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” Leave what you know and step into the unknown. Unknown things can happen in unknown places.
This Sunday we are having three people share about how a trip to another culture, another land impacted their lives. Hope to see you there!
This week’s prayer: Help us to listen to your voice, to hear where you are calling us.
A couple of years ago I had a very vivid dream. I had been reading a lot of stories about the Mennonites and their difficult time in the Ukraine, and I think they made a very big impression on me. I dreamed that there was a war here in Canada, and that suddenly it became very unsafe for young men. It was so unsafe, in fact, that my son had to flee. This was a sudden and quick decision we made and it happened in the middle of the night. Time was very short, he had to leave the house immediately. We told him that he had to go to British Columbia because that is where he would be safe. We stuck some things in a backpack for him and sent him out the back door of our house; we said good-bye, and we saw him jump over the back fence and disappear into the darkness. It was only when we got inside and a few minutes had passed that I suddenly realized that we had not given him a map. He was gone, there was no way we could give him a map now…and the thing that was so vivid about the dream was the terrible sense that we had forgotten to give him something essential for his journey. How would he know where to go, or what to expect along the way?
Maps are what ground us…maps prepare us for the journey ahead, and help explain where we’ve been. This Sunday we’ll be talking about maps for the Christian life. In a few weeks we will be baptizing one of our young people, what can she expect on the road ahead?
This week’s prayer: The road goes ever on and on…help us Lord to discern the right roads to take. And give us strength for the journey, and companions along the way.
I remember being lost in Saskatchewan. I had started out on a trip from Saskatoon to Swift Current, and decided to take some back roads. It was ranching country…with almost no houses anywhere. It didn’t take long and I was quite disoriented, and all there were was rolling hills. It was an overcast day and I couldn’t even tell which way was east or west. As I drove along I came to intersections, but none of them had any signs on them. I couldn’t believe it. What kind of place is this, where there are no signs? I still remember thinking, “If there aren’t any signs, how can I tell where I am?”
We can feel that way in life sometimes. Where am I? Where am I going? God is the one who goes with us on the journey. God is the one who provides the maps, in fact, scripture is like a giant map. Our bibles could have a red arrow on the cover, with the caption, “You are here.” God maps out the way for us, and tells us where we are going, where we have been.
Abram got directions from God. We are going to be journeying with Abram this Sunday, as God leads him from place to place. He’s travelling blind…he’s never been that way before. All along the way he builds altars, where he calls upon the name of the Lord. Altar building has gone out of fashion…how do we show our faithfulness in concrete ways?
This week’s prayer: When I don’t know where I’m going, Lord, stand by me! When the roadways have no markers, stand by me! When I’m all alone and wandering…stand by me!
It has been three months since Christmas! Do you remember the words…”By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79. Maybe you remember these verses, we said them together in worship every Sunday in advent.
When we remembered Jesus` birth, we also remembered how his parents took him to Jerusalem to the temple. Mary must have wondered at the time whether anyone would recognize her royal baby. Only two old people took any notice…no one else realized who Jesus was.
And now it is Palm Sunday, and we go with the grown-up Jesus as he re-enters Jerusalem. It was a happy day for his followers, who thought that finally the day was dawning where Jesus would get the recognition he deserved. But Jesus knew that the way of peace for his feet was up a steep hill to a place called Golgotha. This happy day was one where Jesus shed tears.
We all need peace in our lives. What way do your feet need to walk this week for you to find peace? We all want the way of peace to be sunny and filled with people who make the road easy for us and who are urging us on with loud affirmations! But maybe this week the way of peace for you involves a lonely place where you struggle alone, or a road filled with self-sacrifice and tears.
This week’s prayer: Jesus help us live in peace. Help us walk the way of peace, the way that you show us.
Everyone has a different journey on the road to forgiveness. Joseph was betrayed and sold as a slave. But he ends up as the second most powerful person in Egypt. It all works out for good for Joseph, which makes it easier for him to forgive his brothers.
If only that was always our experience. Someone steals your wallet, and while you are at the police station making a report you meet the woman of your dreams and you end up marrying her! Someone cheats you out of your computer software business, and you end up as vice-president of the company that replaces Microsoft. Some crazy person punches you in the mouth at the airport, causing you to miss your flight—and then the plane you were supposed to be on crashes! If only things always worked out for good that way. But unfortunately, that’s not always how the cookie crumbles.
This Sunday we’ll be looking at the different experiences of Joseph as he travels his road to forgiveness. I hope it will help us think about our own lives. Each one of us faces challenges in the forgiveness department. Circumstances can go a long way to helping us forgive someone.
Think of a person in your life that you are trying to forgive, or have forgiven. What circumstances have helped or hindered that forgiveness? Where is God in the story? What do we do with those stubborn stories that don’t have happy endings? I think the Joseph story has something to say about that too!
Thank you God that you are with me in the messy details of my everyday life. Give me clear eyes to see where I’m at with forgiveness…show me the path you would have me follow.
I remember a particular drive in the dark when I was a little girl. It was late at night, I don’t even know where we were coming from, but we were headed home. I was listening to my parents as we drove in the darkness. We were lost, they were talking about that. What I remember clearly is the feeling I had. I was in the backseat with my two sisters, warm and cozy, and I was enjoying the ride. The fact that we didn’t know where we were going didn’t bother me at all. I knew that my parents would find the way home. It was nothing I had to concern myself about at all.
Driving in the darkness as an adult is much more nerve-wracking, particularly if you’ve ever been lost in the dark. Or even been lost in the day-time! Last year I was in southern Saskatchewan on some rural roads, and there were simply no road-signs. Mile after mile, I’d pass road after road, and there were no markings whatsoever at the intersections. I had a map, but if the roads aren’t labelled, it’s useless. I was driving in the dark, even though it was day-time.
We are people who like to know where we are and where we are going, at all times! As Christians, sometimes God asks us to drive in the dark, or follow roads that have no signs. We know we are doing what God has asked or laid out for us, but we don’t know where the road leads. Walking in darkness is the theme of this Sunday’s advent sermon…we are going to be taking a look at John the Baptist. He was driving a wilderness road…I wonder if he saw signs on the road ahead. Did he anticipate where the road would take him?
Take a moment to think about your life…is there an area where you are feel like you are driving in the dark? If you prayed for direction, and are taking some steps after seeking God’s guidance, it may be difficult to feel like you’re still in the dark. Shouldn’t God shed some light on the situation? Advent is a time to remember that darkness is a time to trust God. I wonder whether you can sit in the backseat and trust God to find the way home for you. Can you enjoy the ride?
God of every dark road, be with me this week as I try to follow you. Do I believe in your guiding hand in my life? I want to believe, help my disbelief!
We had a spectacularly beautiful day for our four-hour Bruce Trail hike. Thanks to Randy F. for these pictures.
Here we are starting out at Mountainview Conservation area...everybody is looking pretty perky
There were some ups and some downs along the way
By this point some have left and others have joined the pilgrimage, we've been on the trail a couple of hours...tired but still happy!
Tom pointing out a point of interest... And a special mention goes to Sophie, Richard and Andrew, our youngest pilgrims so far!