Our “Stay Connected" page is a way that we, as a church community, keep up with each other.  Life is fast right now, it’s something we’ve never experienced before.  We’ll be posting thoughts, ideas, reflections and words of challenge and encouragement here.  Check back often…and stay connected!

JESUS WAS A GREAT STORYTELLER

Jesus was a great storyteller.

We’ve talked about this before. His ‘sermons’ are all deeply rooted in a care for, and understanding of the mundane and everydayness of our lives. Whether he is talking about fig trees or grape vines, farmers sowing seeds or shepherds looking for lost sheep, his ability to weave common experience into his interactions and his teaching is what drew his listeners in.

Right now, for many of us, the mundane and everydayness of our lives is just a little overwhelming. As of today even more stores and restaurants and parks and trails will be closed and unavailable for us as employees and customers. Our routines and spaces seem to be closing in on us.

And here we are…entering Holy Week. It’s a week where we remember, reflect, celebrate, spend time with extended family and friends. None of that is possible this year. We will be remembering and celebrating as individuals or individual families this year. Of course we will use the great gift of technology to do what we can do to fill the void but it will only take us so far.

So here are a few ideas for us this week to take joy in our everydayness…

Spend time thinking about and laboring over a meal. Think about the ingredients and why you use them. Think about the flavours and feel you are hoping to achieve. Bring meaning to the fuel that your body needs to live and breathe have its being.

Spend time listening to music that moves you. Write out the lyrics and speak them as a poem. Sit still (like I did as a kid in front of the record player) and concentrate on the music not the things you’re doing while you’re listening to the music.

Spend time reading through a gospel. I prefer Matthew during this time because of Matthew’s purpose in establishing Jesus as Saviour and King but just choose one. Don’t try to reap some great new profound truth…let the words find a place in your soul and in your mind.

Spend time connecting with and old friend or family member. They may live under your roof…they may not. If you’re not sure of who that might be for you, I’m guessing that if you are still for a moment one will come to mind.

Brent

A CANDLE AT MIDNIGHT

Mary Jo Leddy wrote a book on her work with street people which she entitled, “We Beg To Differ".  She got that title from some graffiti that was written on a wall in Toronto.  The whole statement was:

When we light
A candle at midnight
We are saying to the darkness
We beg to differ.

What stands out for me is the line, a candle at midnight.  A candle is small and in the day time throws little light.  But in the darkness it does make a difference.  This reminds me of the small acts of kindness that I have experienced when I have been in a dark place.  As an example, 45 years ago when Willie and I moved to Guelph, we knew no one in this community.  We were moving from London where my family lived and where we attended the church that I had grown up in.  Back then some people were not comfortable with inter-racial marriage.  I was anxious about whether we would be accepted.  Coming down the stairs of our porch several days after we moved into our new home, a neighbour across the street was getting into her car.  She called out, “Hi, neighbour, welcome".  I smiled and waved back.  But what went through my mind was, ‘We are going to be okay’.  A number of years later I tried to thank her and tell her how much it had meant to me.  She was surprised that those three words had been so meaningful and important to me.  Such a simple act; but for me she was a candle at midnight.

Perhaps this is what we can be for each other during these times of uncertainty.  It could be a phone call, a text message, an email to someone to touch base, to let them know that we are thinking of them.  When we are going grocery shopping perhaps we can call someone, for who getting out is harder, to see if we can pick anything up for them.  Many other small things that help keep us connected and that remind us that we are a community.  That community stretches beyond our church to our neighbours and to the agencies helping our neighbours.

Here are some examples on how we can help:
1. Chalmers Food Bank has requested cash donations so they can buy what is needed.
2. Hope House has requested dish soap, shampoo, tooth paste, female hygiene products especially pads since they have tampons.  Hope House is finding it harder to buy in bulk because the stores are guarding against people hoarding. They are able to get their fresh produce through a wholesaler.

Throughout scripture when God appears to people often the first words spoken are “Fear not”.  The first part of Isaiah 40: 10 succinctly summarizes why we need not fear, “So do not fear, for I am with you “.  In the coming days and weeks may we each sense God’s presence directly through His Spirit but also indirectly through each other as we reach out to be community in new ways.

Kathy James

MOVIE NIGHT

A parent-child relationship can be a truly amazing thing on levels that we barely think about.  As a parent, I want to protect my children from the harsh realities of the world and offer them a face of peace and love.  I will hold the fear and anxiety so they don’t have to. In turn, they explode with joy and laughter and a care-free attitude that quickly lets me forget the troubles outside my door if only for a little while.


We like going to the movies.  We don’t go often but when we do, we get the Costco movie passes that have the snacks included.  This is the best part for the kids. They get a slushy, popcorn and the little canister of m&m’s (which are usually gone before the previews end and the movie begins).  These little moments have been put on hold for a time, but instead of allowing the disappointment to overcome us, we are creating new moments that are truly special.  

My kids recreated a movie theatre experience for us.  We had to collect our tickets and wait until the doors opened at 8.  They made a poster, a ticket collection box, staff name tags and a concession stand (chocolate chip cookies and guacamole-what a combo!).   Some of them even had the full 3-D experience with glasses, minus the lenses. We crowded into our living room movie theatre and spent the night together.  

We’d love to hear the creative ways you are spending time in isolation.  Send us your stories and pictures to office@fbcg.ca

Take care, Amy

Feeling Blessed

To quote a friend from work, this has been one of the most interesting weeks of our lives.  Since January, Lori and I have been participating in the Enneagram study group, which has been a great time to meet members of our community (both from First and others), and to find out some very interesting things about my personality makeup…  

I am a number 5 on the chart – sometimes called the thinker or the observer.  So it is in my nature to observe what is going on, and I am feeling blessed. This is a scary time, but the leaders in my immediate surroundings (my boss and the executive group at work, and Debra, Brent and the SLT here at First) are working in a calming way to help us all work our way through this crisis.  Outside a few empty aisles at the grocery store and an extreme reduction in traffic, there has been very little signs of panic that could easily have gripped our society. Some of that is due to the leaders in our midst. We need to continue to pray for guidance and support for these people in our lives, but we should also show our gratitude, for these people that have shouldered a heavy burden.  Most didn’t sign up to be a leader in troubled times. Mistakes will be made – some will fall into fear-based decision making – so continue to pray for their support.  

As a flock, or employees we need to continue to stay calm, keep our physical social distance and maybe take a cue from our youth.  Connections can be made through the miracles of technology – We are even ‘doing church’ that way for now. God is with us, helping us through the troubles that this broken world throws our way.  I pray that His spirit will be there to support you in the darkness and that you can be his light as you are called to be.

John Walton

Puzzling

I’ve always liked doing puzzles on a visual level. Putting things in their place in a way that creates a whole and having that whole be something that is nice to look at appeals to me and whatever weird idiosyncrasies I possess. Apparently they are also good for using both sides of your brain at the same time and enhancing spacial recognition as well as improving short term memory…if I remember correctly! Lol

Here’s what I’ve been doing as I have been puzzling this week. When I pick up a piece I have attached a name to it. I started with my family, then extended family and friends and church family and have used the time that piece is in my hand as a time to think and pray for each person individually. It’s been a quiet and meditative exercise. And the cool visual has been to watch as all the connections and relationships in my life have come together to create the full picture. 

So if you’re puzzling over these next weeks I highly recommend this approach. And if you are looking for a puzzle to do, let me know. We’ve got a few extra over here!

Brent