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“Not the Sermon” Message

This Week at Trinity, Beamsville

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

This week I’ve been thinking back across what I thought might happen, in this extended time apart.  Turns out, I had not much of an idea of what this would all be like.  Some things have been more surprising, some more draining, and some entirely without the right words, yet. 

I’ve been thinking about my grand and noble plans to call the entire congregation – each week, even.  I guess I thought I would have time for that, but the days and nights have melted away with most of my phone calls going in direct response to crisis.  It is a terrible thing to think about my time in that way and what feels like ranking levels of need, and yet that reality is always there, in the sense of immediacy for some situations over others.  I’m learning to give myself permission to do what one day allows, and to trust that, as much as I long to hear and see you, on a weekly or more frequent basis, we remain connected, and you know I am but a phone call or email away.

With that in mind, I was most struck by a Facebook post I read this morning, from a United Church colleague reaching out to clergy across the country.  She began by sharing her goal for the day, which was to call each and every household in her congregation, and wish them a blessed Easter.  Of course I immediately fell into envy, at the thought of having a day open enough to do just that, but the rest of the story put me back where God really needs me to be.

This colleague’s name is Colleen, and she said that she began her first call early in the morning, but didn’t hang up until 90 minutes later.  She spoke about the person on the other end of the phone, as being so grateful to have the call, and that she poured out her heart and her prayer needs in this most anxious time.  Colleen prayed with the woman and reassured her, best she could.  It was only at the end of the recounting that Colleen told us she had actually dialed the wrong number.  Those 90 minutes of pastoral care and devoted love were essentially offered to a stranger… and yet, to Colleen, in retrospect, they were exactly what needed to happen that morning. 

These can be long days, of wondering and waiting.  Like an unending Holy Saturday, we find ourselves longing for release from the tomb of separation and sorrow – and yet it seems, that it is entirely in this waiting time that God needs us most to speak.  God needs us to seize every moment, wrong number or otherwise, to listen and support; to hear each other’s cries of waiting for Easter Sunday.  Metaphorically, liturgically, and theologically, we are gifted with this time to share words of hope and promise.  Like no time I’ve ever known before, this is the time and this is the season to sing loudly of a glorious, life-changing time still to come. 

With abiding love to you all, this season and always,


Early in the morning we come to you, Lord, with gratitude and wonder, with awe at your power to love us. This morning we want to follow the women to the tomb. We want to hear the surprising words, “He is not here!”
We want to kneel before Christ with joy and thankfulness; and we want to leave here
bursting with good tidings of great joy which shall be for all people.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Thanks be to you, O God!  Amen.”
(Carol Penner)

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