Wednesday Meditation (Psalm 107:6-9)
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.
I could not watch the picture on my computer screen. It was a picture of Jabaliya Refugee Camp. The bomb(s) wiped out buildings and made concrete into dust. It was a place of refuge, a place full of people with nowhere to run to. My heart stopped. My mind lost any thoughts. There was no word that can be spoken when witnessing such surreal aftermath of destruction. Sounds of justification or accusations mean nothing to ears when our eyes are confronted with empty spots where tall buildings once stood.
Then I remembered. On the day the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York collapsed, I saw into the screen. As was the case today, on that day my heart stopped. My mind lost thoughts. I had lost a sense of being, just like today. It was impossible back then as it is impossible now to try to find life. Where can human beings go when the very places we designated as a place of refuge, the very last place to preserve life, becomes a place of death? Can the human mind comprehend what took place in Jabaliya?
During the Korean War, there were unverified rumblings about how the good guys rounded up villagers into a church, set the church on fire and shot everyone who ran out to save their lives from the fire. I remember watching a documentary on the Vietnam War many years ago. Local village people were gathered up by the supposed good guys and mowed down including women and children because the good guys, our guys, could not take a chance with any Viet Cong who would later kill them. Back then, too, I remember hearing how young Viet Cong children used to shoot our soldiers in the back after being given chocolates.
Words fail. Minds stop. Hearts break. Souls are crushed. Spirits evaporate. Do the cries of humanity reach God’s ear? Do the last breaths of each one dying return to God? Does God care? If God hears, what will God do?
This coming Sunday’s lectionary reading contains parts of Psalm 107. On verse 6 we hear the psalmist say God heard the cry from the people who were troubled. God did not close ears or eyes. God led them out of distress into the place of life. How do we bring the voices of the voiceless in distress to God? How do we open the hands of God to receive back the breaths that were breathed last by those who became what our leaders designated them as nothing more than the collateral damage?
Can those Gazans who were nothing more than the collateral damage find their rest in God? Will God welcome them into God’s presence and resurrect them to enjoy life under God’s reign forever? Will they find God just, loving and life giving when in this life they suffered violent death not of their own making? Will they sing along with the psalmist saying, “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.” Can the cries of those who were killed in Jabaliya Refugee camp move God’s heart to lead them out of their distress?
This Sunday, in the shadows of wars in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, we are to remember, lest we forget, the deaths of those who went to WWI and WWII. At the brink of witnessing a possible WWIII, we need to figure a way out together. More than ever, there is not there there. That is, our world is too small for us to worry about who is with or against us. The planet earth is too small for any of us to pretend that those whom we do not like can be pushed into a room of their own.
Since the rise of information technology, we have found out how everyone is like another. We also realized how close we are as humanity to each other. There is no there there any more. In this small earth, with God’s grace we can share life abundantly. Yet, somehow, we have some people refusing to see all peoples as brothers and sisters. These people are determined to see God’s image in everyone we encounter on this earth.
For Christians, remembering is to remember Christ who sets his table among the poor, the broken, the abused, and oppressed. Christ invites all to his table to share his body and blood as the source and reality of life as it should be under God’s reign. Each time we gather, we remember who Christ is to us and who we are to each other. When we remember to partake in the life Christ gives, we share Christ’s grace abundantly with all.
On this Sunday, we will remember the wars that killed millions and those who fought to save the world. We will remember through experiences of WWI and WWII why sharing God’s grace in Christ is the only hope through which we will achieve peace on earth. We worship the one whom we call the Prince of Peace.
Our struggle to be the ones who follow the Prince of Peace whose coming was the announcement of peace on earth continues. Unlike others, even now as we witness terrible deaths of so many at the hands of others is to live as ones who are determined to love even the enemies.
All Saints Day
On Christian calendar, today, November 1 is the feast of all saints. It is the day we give God thanks in the understanding that both known and unknown Christians saints are remembered. Of course, when we speak of saints, as Protestants, we talk of all Christians being saints in Christ. Yes, today we remember all those who followed Christ throughout history with dedication, commitment and faith, being the body of Christ, sharing the very message of Christ with the world.
On this day, as we thank God for all those who came before us, we commit ourselves in God’s hand to do God’s work here in this time. More than ever, our resolve to follow Christ is required so that the world may come to know what it is like to taste God’s peace on earth. More than ever, our faithful stance in Christ ought to be shared with the world in actions of love beyond understanding. Simply stating that God loves the world is not enough. As we read in the Letter of James, faith without work is dead. All good and righteous words without loving in real life means nothing.
All Saints Day reminds us how Christians throughout centuries followed the ways of Christ with unwavering steadfast love. The lives these saints lived in faithful service to Christ encourage us to be faithful to our Lord today no matter the circumstances. In times of turmoil we tend to feel alone and forget to realize that there are those Christians who lived a life of following Christ, sharing his love with the world, in all circumstances. Knowing we are not unique and we are not the first to follow Christ helps us to follow Christ with humility. All Saints Day reminds us we are part of God’s history that began long ago and will continue until Jesus returns, encouraging us to serve Christ unwaveringly.
Our fundraising concert with Mike, Joan and friends will take place this Friday, November 10 at 7 pm. We ask you to help us promote this concert.
All proceeds from the concert will be used for our budget that includes our local mission work. As we shared with you, most of our mission funding comes from our own budget.
We are continuing to carry on with English Classes, Fellowship Programs, Cooking Programs, Emergency Food, Spending Time Drawing and many other activities for the newcomers are self- funded. Also we provide various emergency aids to those who are in need.
Remember that we will have a party for November Birthdays on Sunday, November 5th following the service of worship.
Putting our future in God’s hand
I have been giving God thanks for God’s grace and mercy we experience each Sunday. If you have been here for a while, you may see it on Sunday during worship. We are not the same church we used to be before the COVID. We have changed and are continuing to change. On a given Sunday, you may see many little children running all over the sanctuary. Last Sunday there were 7 very young Christians enjoying God all over the sanctuary and at the narthex.
As we welcome everyone on Sunday morning, it is amazing to see how God surprises us by sending people to be part of our worship from all over. We have been privileged to be shaped as new people each Sunday. We often do not realize how blessed we are with so many strangers becoming our worshipping family.
Baking and Fun for children 1:30 pm
On Saturdays at 1:30 pm all children are invited to make and bake cookies together. We will have also fun activities as we wait for cookies to bake. Please come and share the time. Any child who loves cookies are invited. Those who like to help children bake cookies are also welcome.
For the young adults and up are encouraged to come and share the time of fellowship on Saturdays at 1:30 pm. You can learn watercolour painting, simply do the watercolour painting with others if you already know how or come just to spend fellowship time with others. Everyone is welcome!
Sunday morning worship: 10:30 am
November Birthday Party
We will celebrate together birthdays of everyone who has a birthday in November after worship service this coming Sunday. Following the service we will ask older youths and young adults to stay and have a time of exercise and play.
Christmas Concert on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 3 pm.
This is our reaching out concert. We hope that you will come out and enjoy this Christmas Concert. Invite your family, friends and neighbours.