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2021 25 March

Holy Week Reflective Times

Posted in Steinbach United

Here we are another year, and we are not able to have our Holy Week services in person again. Online worship services will be in place for Palm Sunday, Good Friday & Easter Sunday. We are offering an opportunity for you to have a personal, reflective time in the sanctuary during Holy Week. We hope this will be meaningful for you as you spend some quiet time in the church. There will be candles provided if you would like to light one during this reflective time. Our hope is that you will be able to reflect on the meaning of Holy Week for you. The times that the church will be open are:

Monday, March 29, 10 AM – 12 PM

Tuesday, March 30, 2 PM – 4 PM

Wednesday, March 31, 7 PM – 9 PM

Thursday, Apr 1, 7 PM – 9 PM

Friday, Apr 2, 2 PM – 4 PM

The following COVID-19 protocols will be in place:

  • Do not attend if you are feeling at all unwell or if you or anyone in your house are waiting for Covid-19 test results.
  • Do not attend if you have travelled outside of the province within the last 14 days.
  • Masks must be worn at all times inside the church.
  • Your name & phone number will be collected for contact tracing purposes.
  • Maximum people in the sanctuary at one time will be 4. There will be chairs set up, safely distanced apart.

– “Project Epiphany” Team

2021 11 March

Public Intentional Explicit

Posted in Steinbach United

Pie Day 2021 is truly a special one at Steinbach United Church!  We’ve been on this affirming path for 8 years.  Along the way we have studied, asked questions, listened, pondered and prayed. The overwhelming vote in favour of inclusion of people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities in the life and work of SUC is a result of this heartfelt and thoughtful process of growing and understanding together.

Covid 19 means our celebration of becoming an affirming ministry within the United Church of Canada will be a pre-recorded service. In these weeks leading up to March14th, the Affirm team has been focused on the details and deadlines for the celebration.  “Will the recordings be here on time?” “Is the sun too bright for recording?” “Are the photos ready?” Sometimes, when the busyness of preparation takes over, we don’t take time to reflect on the celebration.

As I write, all the components are completed and in the capable hands of the video production team with time to spare! The service will be posted on our website under Minister’s Message.  So we do have time to pause and reflect on this moment and the commitment of the folks at Steinbach United.

Steinbach United Church has received lovely messages of support from across the country. They are encouraging and much appreciated! 

With a vision of hope we journey on.

2021 11 March

An Invitation of Celebration

Posted in Steinbach United

With a vision of hope, we journey on…

Steinbach United is becoming an Affirming Ministry!

Join our celebration!

Steinbach United Church is a community of faith that actively supports justice and inclusion and began 8 years ago on an Affirming journey.  Together we listened, studied, shared stories, faced challenges and updated policies.  On March 14th we are celebrating becoming an Affirming Ministry within The United Church of Canada!

All are welcome to attend a Zoom pre-recorded service on March 14th at 10:30AM.

Following the service remain on Zoom to visit.

To join the Zoom service, email Steinbach United Church steinbachunited@mymts.net by Thursday, March 11th and request the Zoom link.

The service will also be posted to the church website http://steinbachunitedchurch.ca/ministers-message.

2020 19 August

Thinking About Prayer: A Simple Truth

Posted in Prayer Corner

By Fr. Richard Rohr

During World War II, Jesuit priest Walter Ciszek (1904–1984) was accused of being a “Vatican spy.” After spending five years in a Moscow prison, he was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in Siberian prison camps. He is an example of someone whose life has been pared down to the “one thing necessary.”

Through the long years of isolation and suffering, God had led me to an understanding of life and [God’s] love that only those who have experienced it can fathom. God had stripped away from me many of the external consolations, physical and religious, that people rely on and had left me with a core of seemingly simple truths to guide me. And yet what a profound difference they had made in my life, what strength they gave me, what courage to go on! I wanted to tell others about them. . . .

The simple soul who each day makes a morning offering of “all the prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day”—and who then acts upon it by accepting unquestioningly and responding lovingly to all the situations of the day as truly sent by God [I prefer to say “allowed” although it helps many people to see all situations as “sent by God.” And who really knows?]—has perceived with an almost childlike faith the profound truth about the will of God. . . . God’s will for us is clearly revealed in every situation of every day, if only we could learn to view all things as God sees them. . . .

The challenge lies in learning to accept this truth and act upon it, every moment of every day. The trouble is that like all great truths, it seems too simple. It is there before our noses all the time, while we look elsewhere for more subtle answers. It bears the hallmark of all divine truths, simplicity, and yet it is precisely because it seems so simple that we are prone to overlook it or ignore it in our daily lives. . . .

The fullest freedom I had ever known, the greatest sense of security, came from abandoning my will to do only the will of God. . . .

For what can ultimately trouble the soul that accepts every moment of every day as a gift from the hands of God and strives always to do God’s will? “If God is for us, who can stand against us?” [Romans 8:31]. Nothing, not even death, can separate us from God. . . . Is this too simple, or are we just afraid really to believe it, to accept it fully and in every detail of our lives, to yield ourselves up to it in total commitment? This is the ultimate question of faith, and each one of us must answer it for ourselves in the quiet of our heart and the depths of our soul. But to answer it in the affirmative is to know a peace, to discover a meaning to life, that surpasses all understanding.

Anyone in Fr. Walter’s situation could not fake such radical faith and trust. It had to be real.

Reference:
Walter J. Ciszek with Daniel L. Flaherty, He Leadeth Me (Image: 2014, ©1973), 13, 40, 41, 165, 208. Note: Minor edits made for more inclusive language.

2020 12 August

Thinking About Prayer: God’s Simple Pleasure

Posted in Prayer Corner

By Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

The land is God’s. . . . Caring for the land, every day, is my way to be close to God. [God’s] land must be honored. —Eli, an Amish farmer

Poet, author, and farmer Wendell Berry is a shining example of humility and simple living. He’s made it his life’s concern to commit to one beloved plot of land in Kentucky. He says everything he’s learned has been through his faithfulness to that commitment. He reminds me of St. Francis of Assisi in that he loves nature deeply and takes the Gospel seriously. Berry writes of the profound pleasure that can come from simple things—if we can attune ourselves to them:

It is astonishing, and of course discouraging, to see economics now elevated to the position of ultimate justifier and explainer of all the affairs of our daily life, and competition enshrined as the sovereign principle and ideal of economics. . . .   It is impossible not to notice how little the proponents of the ideal of competition have to say about honesty, which is the fundamental economic virtue, and how very little they have to say about community, compassion, and mutual help. . . . For human beings, affection is the ultimate motive, because the force that powers us, as [John] Ruskin [1819–1900] also said, is not “steam, magnetism, or gravitation,” but “a Soul.”. . . [1]

Is it possible to look beyond this all-consuming “rush” of winning and losing to the possibility of countrysides, a nation of countrysides, in which use is not synonymous with defeat? It is. But in order to do so we must consider our pleasures. . . . [There are] pleasures that are free or without a permanent cost. . . . These are the pleasures that we take in our own lives, our own wakefulness in this world, and in the company of other people and other creatures—pleasures innate in the Creation and in our own good work. It is in these pleasures that we possess the likeness to God that is spoken of in Genesis. [God looked upon all that God had created and saw that it was very good (Genesis 1:31).] . . .

The passage suggests . . . that our truest and profoundest religious experience may be the simple, unasking pleasure in the existence of other creatures that is possible to humans. It suggests that God’s pleasure in all things must be respected by us in our use of things. . . . It suggests too that we have an obligation to preserve God’s pleasure in all things. . . .

Where is our comfort but in the free, uninvolved, finally mysterious beauty and grace of this world that we did not make, that has no price? Where is our sanity but there? Where is our pleasure but in working and resting kindly in the presence of this world?

References:
[1] John Ruskin, “The Roots of Honour,” Unto This Last and Other Essays on Art and Political Economy (E. P. Dutton and Co.: 1907), 119. Ruskin was an artist, teacher, author, social critic, and philosopher.

Wendell Berry, “Economy and Pleasure” in The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, ed. Norman Wirzba (Counterpoint: 2002), 207, 212, 214, 215.

Epigraph: Quoted by Sue Bender in Plain and Simple: A Woman’s Journey to the Amish (HarperCollins: 1989), 63.

2020 5 August

Thinking About Prayer: Openness and Receptivity

Posted in Prayer Corner

By Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

Despite many differing views of Jesus’ life and teaching, we can say confidently that Jesus was a poor man who fully embraced life with those on the margins of society. Francis of Assisi certainly did the same, and it became his litmus test for all orthodoxy and ongoing transformation into God. Clare of Assisi (1194–1253) wanted to imitate Francis in this and I acknowledge that she and her sisters, the Poor Clares, have kept the vow of poverty much better than we Franciscan friars have done. Today, Bridget Mary Meehan helps us understand how radical simplicity helped Clare and her sisters come to a singleness of focus and heart.

Clare understood that love and poverty [or what I would call simplicity] are connected. She taught that poverty frees one from the bondage of material things and from all the things that clutter the human heart and soul. . . . .

Gospel poverty was at the heart of Clare’s rule. The Poor Ladies owned nothing; they lived simply without property, endowments, or any kind of material possessions. For Clare, doing without things led to deep communion with God. Her way of life was characterized by a deep trust in God to provide for the needs of the community. Whatever the Poor Ladies received was sufficient. Openness and receptivity reflected Clare’s attitudes toward people and things. For her, everything was gift. She and her “ladies” lived the gospel passionately according to the Franciscan ideal.

Through the centuries Clare has continued to be a beacon of light to women and men who long to love Christ with an undivided heart, to serve others generously, and to live simply in a world that glorifies material possessions. If we have too many clothes in our closets, too much money in the bank, too many things cluttering our lives, Clare can help us find the one thing necessary—God who will liberate and fill our emptiness with divine love. Our conversion process may take time—sometimes years—but we will experience freedom and joy when we live with a loose grasp on material things, when we are willing to share our possessions as well as our time and energy with those in need. . . .

How often do we take a deep breath and appreciate—really appreciate—the air we breathe? How often do we savor the food we taste and smell the flowers along our path? When was the last time we listened to our child, laughed with a friend, embraced our spouse? It is true that the best things in life are free, but we are often too distracted or too busy to see the simple treasures of life right in front of us.

Reference:
Bridget Mary Meehan, Praying with Visionary Women (Sheed & Ward: 1999), 40–41.

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