On May 21, I was on my way to Washington D.C. for the annual Festival of Homiletics, which is an ever nourishing and rejuvenating week-long gathering of ministers/church leaders of Faith Communities that I look forward to every single year – This year marked the fifth year that I have been able to attend, and I was one of 1,700 registered participants from all over the world – Yes, even Australia.
On my way there, I heard that there was going to be a procession on May 24, from one of the host churches, the National City Christian Church, to the White House – “Reclaiming Jesus”. Calling all disciples of Jesus to live the way Jesus did. (You may watch/listen to my sermon of June 3, 2018 on our website: www.eppc-ucc.com or you may check out the Reclaiming Jesus website: http://www.reclaimingjesus.org/)
Besides listening to over 20 sermons and lectures in one week, in Washington D.C. I was also thinking and praying about the United Church’s 43rd General Council that is coming up in July – hosted by the Bay of Quinte Conference in Oshawa. This year at GC-43, commissioners are going to vote upon many decisions that the churches and presbyteries have already discussed and voted upon, but these remits must be approved and voted upon at the gathering for the final time.
As I thought of the future of the United Church of Canada during the Festival, I kept experiencing fear disappearing, as I heard the Spirit say, “No matter how much the courts of the church changes, the message of the church will stay the same, because the work and the message of the church is the same, from generation to generation- Living the Gospel of Jesus”.
Gospel, means “The Good News” – The Gospel of Jesus was and still is, Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, what more do we need in this life?
Beloved, Elgin-Portland Pastoral Charge is one of the smallest pastoral charges within the United Church of Canada, however SHE works with Great Love – NOT only for the people within the church, or the immediate community outside the church walls but for all of God’s People in the world.
Elgin-Portland Pastoral Charge continues to support local ministries through, D.I.G (Dental Issues Group), Food Bank, Clothing Co-Op, Benevolent Fund, Community Lunches and other forms of Caring and Sharing that takes place in the name of Love. This year EPPC will host the 9th Annual Vacation Bible School, with the theme – “Love in Any Language” – thanks to hard working volunteers, we will teach the children French, Sign Language, Armenian and Arabic. At the worship celebrations of June 3rd, we learned a short refrain in Arabic from More Voices United that comes to us from Lebanon, where I was born, entitled, “May Peace Be with You”. (MV 168). As we live in the Season of Pentecost, maybe it is time for us to look for the Love and the Peace of God being proclaimed all over the world in different languages and formats. Maybe it is time for us to lose the box and live in the Freedom of God’s Spirit.
Beloved, Elgin-Portland Pastoral Charge stands not only with those near to us but also with those far away. This year SHE has stood in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in El Salvador, Honduras, and preparing to reach out to the student aged refugee kids from Syria in Lebanon – our sabbatical partnership with a few of the churches in the Middle East. Therefore, this year, more than ever before, I urge you to spring into a community of faith and dedicate your time, gifts and talents to make this world a better place. Between fake news and alternative truths, our world needs us to be disciples of Jesus and reclaim Jesus for the World.
I would like to conclude this short reflection with the words of The Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann, who says in his most recent book titled, “A Gospel of Hope”: “The world of Jesus is different. It is a world where he has made peace. And we now who are baptized are welcomed into his company and his work to be peacemakers in hard places, to refuse the way of anger and fear and hate and resentment, in order to enact a world of gratitude, generosity, and forgiveness” (Page 53).
May we ALL be the Church no matter where we are, leading a life of Gratitude, Generosity and Forgiveness. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Rev. Takouhi Demirdjian-Petro