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Support for Pacific Avenue fire evacuees (update)

Supplies of bedding, clothing and toiletries will be available at First United Tuesday to Saturday, 9-5 through to June 11.  We hear from those who have come shopping here that the support of the whole community of White Rock has been amazing, and that one of the biggest needs is to connect with neighbours who know what you’re going through.  Wednesday May 25 10:30 a.m.   the coffee is on, and there is an opportunity to do just that.  Please spread the word.

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Help for Pacific Avenue fire evacuees (2)

If you know someone who needs immediate help, we have clothing, shoes, bedding, toiletries donated by the community and available to evacuees.  Please note: we do not need any more clothing, so much has come in that we are now preparing bags to go to other charities.  Volunteers from Vanilla Clothing, one of the burned out businesses in the Pacific Avenue fire, have organized and staffed this effort, using the lower Hall at First United.  People who need any of these items can come till 5 pm Wednesday, and until noon on Thursday May 19. Our regular Community Dinner happens on Thursday May 19 at 5 p.m. and we have prepared for extra people, knowing that some evacuees are eating out and would appreciate a home cooked meal among friends.

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Help for Pacific Avenue fire

Yesterday morning as we were preparing for our 10:30 a.m. service, we were very aware of our neighbours on Pacific Avenue forced out of their homes by fire.  If you want to help those evacuated, we recommend the fund-raising effort by Laura Cornale, of Laura’s Corner.  We are aware of many community groups that used the Star of the Sea Hall for their gatherings, and encourage those groups to be in touch with First United and we’ll make every effort to accomodate whoever we can.  It is amazing and heartwarming to watch the generosity of the community and local merchants and business people, reaching out to those in need.  Thanks be to God for those impulses of compassion and generosity.

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I can be a Christian without coming to church

I have often heard people say “I can be a Christian without coming to church”.  It’s usually said a bit defensively by someone whose Sunday mornings are typically spent outdoors somewhere.  I am one of the first to talk about meeting God most easily in prayer by the ocean or among the trees, but I am more and more convinced that the gift of belonging in a caring community is an important part of what it is to be Christian.   And I would say it has been, since the beginnings when Jesus gathered with friends and walked with his disciples.  I think we have lost track of our yearning for belonging and have often been preoccupied with an obligation to attend a form of communal worship at some holy hour on Sunday morning. This coming Sunday we will celebrate the ministries of healing, pastoral care and prayer that are essential to First United’s mission.  There are more than 20 people involved in various ways in these aspects of creating a caring community.  Every week they fan out through the community, visiting people who aren’t able to get to church anymore and demonstrating the kind of prayerful concern that reminds people that they aren’t alone.  In a time when the Vancouver Foundation’s surveys indicate that one of the biggest social problems is loneliness, networks like this are part of the unique contribution that churches can make. I can’t count the times when I have depended on my community of faith as a place to rest my heart and soul, as a body that can carry me through dark times, and can keep on challenging me to face the difficult questions of our time from a place that trusts in the goodness of God.  Where do you belong?  

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Room for All

Here’s my reflection from the candlelight communion Christmas Eve service this year… This, tonight, is the meeting place of heaven and earth. This, tonight, is the stable in which God keeps an appointment to meet all people. Not many here are highborn; not many here are holy; not many are innocent children; not many are worldly wise; not all are familiar faces; not all are frequent visitors. But, if tonight only strangers met, that would be enough. For Bethlehem was not the hub of the universe, nor was the stable a platform for famous folk. In an out of-the-way place which folk never thought to visit – there God kept the promise, and tonight keeps it again; there the Creator of the Universe comes among us. God meets us, in the cry of a helpless babe. [From Cloth for the Cradle, Iona Community] It’s such a bizarre story, isn’t it? Such an improbable entrance. That God would enter history in such a fragile, vulnerable way. But it’s genius too: what could be more intimate? What could be more inviting? And that is God’s way of connecting us: with invitation to vulnerability, with a willingness to suffer rejection. This story, which is mocked by some, still holds sway for us, for me at least, in part because of it’s improbability. It is deeply compelling precisely because it is so risky, so devoid of the stereotypes of colonial, heavy-handed religion. God does not force us to believe anything. Instead we are invited to receive a fragile baby, to make room in our lives, And then we are invited to grow up right alongside this amazing person, and perhaps discover in this surprising, enigmatic person of compassion one who we might dare to follow, one in whom we might hear the call of […]

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Like people who wait for the morning..

As I write, a family of six waits in a refugee camp somewhere in Lebanon.  They know they are coming to Canada, but we don’t know for sure when they will arrive.  Our Refugee Settlement Team is a c0-operative effort among the three United Church congregations and the White Rock Muslim Association.  They have furnished an apartment with donated furniture, household goods and bedding, and they are as ready as they can be.  It has taken a year to organize, get the paperwork submitted and wait for the process in Lebanon to get seriously underway.  And now we wait.  The relationships that have built over the year are a great gift.  It is so good to know that we and our Muslim friends are standing together in compassion.  Thanks be to God!

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If I could have a moment with the national political leaders…

As a follower of Jesus, the One who ignites in me both compassion and a passion for social justice, I have some questions for the political leaders as we enter into this period of preparation for a general election. I would like to hear whether they have read the report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  I would like to know which of the 95 “Calls to Action” they see as having priority. I will ask what they think would be a process to get some action happening to establish “right relations” amongst all of us immigrants and the First Nations.  I would like to know what their plans are to get clean water to the many reserves that have lived with boil-water advisories for far too long. This summer I met one of the people who has been involved for years with the people of Shoal Lake Reserve in Manitoba.  Water from that lake supplies the city of Winnipeg and obviously gets treated in Winnipeg.  Not on the reserve at Shoal Lake, where they have  been boiling their water for 15 years and more.  There is no road access to the reserve; there are funds to widen the trans-Canada highway nearby but none to extend the road to the reserve. It goes on and on, with stories of various jurisdictions not working together and continued suffering among the people.  And so I wonder what could happen if the resources of our national government were directed not to seeking to avoid the blame for this situation, but to working with local governments and the people most affected to find solutions to these very practical problems.  

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I thank you God for most this amazing day…

This morning I went for a prayer walk down along the East Beach part of the boardwalk in White Rock.  I love the stretch towards the horizon, the sand revealing itself in great long swatches of grey as the ocean draws back.  Walking I ponder the great Mystery that lives and breathes in earth and sky and us.  This is a great way to start a day.  Simply grateful. “I thank you God  for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a true blue dream of sky, and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes (i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth) how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any–lifted from the no of all nothing–human merely being doubt unimaginable You? (now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened) ee cummings  

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