High River United Church of High River, Alberta
        

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A Message to Connect - June 8
Grace & Peace to You!

June 4, 2020                       

 

A few announcements:

1. Wednesday, June 10th will mark the 95th Anniversary of the union that formed The United Church of Canada, a coming together of the Presbyterian (70%), Methodist, Congregationalist and the Union Churches of the Prairies in 1925. Since that time, the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Bermuda, as well as individual congregations across the country, have also joined the union.

 

A prayer to celebrate the church’s anniversary, written by Rev. Chelsea Masterman, who grew up in High River United, and now serve at Grace United in Edmonton:

    Holy God, as we join together to worship you today,

    celebrating the 95th anniversary of The United Church of Canada,

    please help us to know your presence.

    Sing your joy in us; sing your comfort in us.

    Ring out your peace, your love, your mercy, and your justice in us.

    May your voice resonate through our bodies, our spirits, our lives.

    Birth in us life, new life and life abundant,

    and equip us to share that life and love with the world you so love. Amen.

      Chelsea Masterman, Gathering Pentecost 1 p. 31 Used with permission

 

2. Our Silent Book Club will meet on Monday, June 15th at 1:30 pm via Zoom. We won’t take time to read, but we will spend time sharing with each other what we have been reading. Please e-mail if you’d like a link to this Zoom encounter.

 

3. Our annual Hutterite chicken fundraiser is kicking off. We’re taking orders starting now – for a late September delivery date (tba). Four chickens plus a Saskatoon pie for $87.   Payment can be made by cash, e-transfer to or cheque, payable to High River United Church. Final date for orders & payment: September   PLEASE tell your friends and share anyway you can. Other fundraisers we count on won’t be able to happen for awhile, but we are all eating – so we hope many will want these awesome 6-8 lb. chickens and the delicious pie. 

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Susan’s Reflections on Psalm 38 & 39

“O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me.” Psalm 38:1

It is human nature to try to find meaning in any situation, but especially in a situation of suffering or tragedy. There are times when we have to confront our own vulnerability and fragility as human being. And when we can’t find meaning, we try to make meaning come out of it, seeking that something good can be the result.

 

Psalms 38 & 39 reflect this seeking for meaning. What is the reason for my suffering, o God? Did I do something wrong? You must be angry with me and punishing me. That is the conclusion of the writer(s) of these psalms. I will confess my wrongdoing, o God. Please hear me. Do not forsake me!   The psalm writer sees God as the source of everything, including suffering.

 

There may be times when we can directly connect our suffering to something we have done, intentionally or unintentionally, either individually or as a society. Yet, I would disagree with the psalm writer. I don’t believe that God directly causes suffering and illness to discipline us. There are too many situations where someone has obviously done something abusive or hurtful to others and never suffers the consequence.

 

As theologian Matthew Fox says, the divine is more about mystery than history. While we as human beings try to give meaning, and sometimes blame God as we seek that meaning, there is so much more mystery to a situation rather than explainable action or history. We might want to make God responsible, but I would say that we need to look at our own responsibility, and the responsibility of our society.  

 

The protests continue following Mr. George Floyd’s death – and I am glad. It is a time for an accounting in our society – and change! To blame God for the suffering of an individual or to blame that individual for the harm or tragedy that has come to them is an easy way to avoid considering our own role as individuals and as a society in the systemic racism that continues to reward white people and victimize those who are visibly of other skin colours.

 

The interesting thing in these psalms is that even the one who feels that God is punishing them understands that the most important characteristic of God is steadfast love. Perhaps, when we are looking for meaning in our own suffering, it is not the reason for the suffering that we should be looking for, but rather the love of God, shared by family, friends and our faith community that should speak the loudest.

 

David’s Reflections on Psalm 40

Happy are those who make the LORD their trust…

          …who do not turn to the proud—to those who go astray after false gods. (vs.4)

 

There is so much in the air right now… cries for justice, cries for the end of racism, discrimination and structural violence. Let me be clear, I am with those confronting abusive power and privilege through peaceful protest, written declarations, poetry and art. The stories of black people are heart-wrenching as I read and listen to their experiences of violence, and discrimination… stories also echoed from the lives of Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ peoples, women and people of colour. There is so much in the air right now as we seek right relations, healing, reconciliation, justice and compassion. It can certainly feel like we’re in a pit (vs.1).

 

But notice that the writer of Psalm 40 speaks of the pit in the past tense. The stuckness, the miry bog, the desolation is past. What lifted the psalmist was trust in the LORD. Not trust in the arrogant, proud and those following false gods. “Happy are those who make the LORD their trust…” However, we understand the role of faith in our lives, the timeless wisdom of the Hebrew writings is a holy litany of stories that tell us about rescue, about over coming violence and despair, about struggle, about surviving war and devastation. All in part, due to a deep trust that the guiding wisdom and perseverance which rests in the God of justice and compassion will prevail. And it does!

 

Where do we put our trust? …in the status quo with its implicit and explicit expressions of racism and inequality, or perhaps in the attached privilege that is ours because of our whiteness and subsequent social and economic privilege? With the arrival of COVID19 and the murder of George Floyd, the systemic injustices are laid bare. We are witnessing the proud furiously chasing the gods of power and privilege, as live video recordings give witness to violence and racism rooted in 400 years of social and economic enslavement. While many of us benefit from these systems of privilege, the deeper Biblical and theological question is, where do we put our trust?

 

Happy are those who make the LORD their trust, says Psalm 40. It’s a beautiful psalm that tells of joy rooted in those hearts that trust in God’s steadfast love and deliverance. When we sit with the black community crying out for justice and at the same time come alongside our Indigenous peoples, women, and our LGTBQ community, and listen… what does it mean to make the LORD our trust? One thing is for certain, it leads us to a much more conscious awareness of what it means to embrace our neighbours and work together for a just and equitable society where no one should live in fear due to the colour of their skin, gender, or orientation.

 

It seems like we are in a moment when we have the opportunity to get things closer to what is just. Happy are those who make the LORD their trust…for they shall see and not be fooled by those who go astray following their false gods. May we have the wisdom, the courage and the voice to discern the difference. As the air clears, as we make the LORD our trust, as we listen and pray, we add our voices to those crying out for justice, immediate rescue, and the end of life in the pit.

 

With love and blessings,

Rev. Susan & Rev. David

High River United Church – a community of help, home & hope

“Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy.” A. Heschel

 

 


 

 


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123 MacLeod Trail S.W. High River, Alberta.

(403) 652-3168

office@highriverunitedchurch.org

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