Red Kool-Aid ?

Are you a member of a religious denomination ?

For several decades I’ve visited and worshipped in many churches.

The varieties of worship styles and liturgy reflect our varying preferences and cultures. God, designed us all uniquely, for His purposes.

One of the most fascinating things I’ve observed is how different groups celebrate the sacrament of Communion, or The Lord’s Supper. This was instituted by Christ myself, on the night he was betrayed.

At many churches, small cubes of white bread and tiny containers of grape juice are consumed by worshippers, as they commemorate Christ’s sacrifice for us.

At one church I visited, the pastor passed around a whole loaf of bread, and everyone tore off a little piece of it. (germs…?).

At the Vatican, I received the Eucharist, the communion wafer, in a crowd of 60,000 worshippers, outside, at St. Peter’s Square.

And, memorably, there was the time a church served tiny ( and tasty) salted crackers, and tiny cups of red Kool-Aid as their Communion celebration.

What would Jesus say about this variety ? Of course, we don’t know, but what we know with absolute certainty is that Christ expects us to be united in Spirit. (John 17:21).

Although each individual worshipper is infinitely precious in God’s eyes, essentially Christianity is a faith that involves all of us working together as spiritual brothers and sisters, and members of the huge Body of Christ. We are all equally valuable as we move God’s Kingdom forward in the world, and invite others to share the Good News of Salvation. We, the believers in this age, need to be working diligently in these times of the harvest. We no longer have time for inter-denominational squabbling.

Communion styles vary considerably amongst Christ followers, but , as we partake, we agree, with the Psalmist : ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’. (Psalm 34:8)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Beer in the Cathedral

Do you agree that in times of stress we are wise to further develop our sense of humour ?

I laughed, (although perhaps I shouldn’t have), when I learned, several years ago through the media, that a cathedral in another Newfoundland outport had been sold, and was going to be turned into a brewery !

The name of the brewery caused me further amusement, since it will be called ‘The Yellow Belly Brewery’. Perhaps the name is appropriate, since selling the historic cathedral as a place to brew alcohol appears to be a cowardly thing to do.

Of course, the town’s parishioners were greatly divided at the decision.

Some lamented, since their ancestors had helped build the church, and it has been the focal point of the community for generations.

Other residents felt less nostalgic, thinking only that ‘times are changing’. Membership had dropped, there was no money for repairs, and the brewery would provide some employment.

Yesterday I checked progress on the brewery, and I could not find any evidence that it is now running. Apparently, beer is not yet flowing in the cathedral.

Perhaps God is not pleased with the proposed project, although the church hierarchy made the deal with the brewery.

The Lord knows that, unfortunately, there are already way too many people with addictions to alcohol in Newfoundland.

Photo is of the cathedral in Harbour Grace, NL

The Unlikely Choir

Have you been asked to do something that you knew would be really challenging ?

The pastor of our little sea-side church asked me, the music director, if I would form a church choir.

At the first practise , six keen women, and two gentlemen arrived.

I discreetly listened to their individual voices, and found that two of the ladies did not sing in tune. ( they lacked pitch accuracy).

Two other women sang in tune, but decades of cigarette smoking had affected their vocal chords, and they now preferred to sing an octave lower than the rest of us.

Both gentlemen had lovely tenor voices.

None of the choir members could read music, but they had a great enthusiasm for wanting to praise the Lord.

And so, my challenge began. It was time consuming to find hymns that the members could learn by rote (memory), and also challenging to transpose the music into a key where everyone could sing.

But we persisted, enjoyed wonderful fellowship, and each week, amazingly, we continued to improve.

Eventually we were invited to sing at other local churches, at long- term care homes, and even at a Christmas Concert televised on cable t.v.

The unlikely choir was successful, because despite our challenges, the Holy Spirit blessed our sincere efforts to worship.

God sees all of his children’s heartfelt desires to praise Him.

I never told the two choir ladies that they did not sing in tune. That really didn’t matter, since God loved their music.

Photo courtesy of iStock.

Photo of Trinity Newfoundland with iceberg and lighthouse in the distance

The Bench

A bench has divided our village.

It was placed earlier this summer, and I rest here when I’m out walking.

A local church, seeing the colourful bench, felt inspired to have an outdoor ‘worship service’.

They brought outside their ultra powerful sound system, with speakers loud enough for a Rock Concert.

Then they broadcast , at great volume, throughout the village, that God had made two sexes, male and female.

They videotaped and posted their worship service on social media, where it caught the attention of national media.

Our local administration was interviewed by reporters, and the controversial video created division and hurt throughout our community. Another church, whose music minister and his husband are both talented musicians, was especially offended.

We know that ‘the evil one’ loves to create division.

Everyone in the village has an opinion about the bench, although most will not say anything.

How do I feel about the bench ?

I am only a housewife theologian, who follows the guidance of Jesus, who taught us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.

Photo by Sally

No Berry Picking Allowed

Are people superstitious where you live ?

We learned when we moved here, that many rural Newfoundlanders are intensely superstitious.

This explains why people are rarely seen visiting cemeteries, most of which are poorly maintained. Many are adjacent to small wooden churches.

There was great excitement when, two Augusts ago, Mrs. Butler reported seeing lots of people in the cemetery , in a neighbouring village !

She did her duty and reported the suspicious activity to the Chair of the Parish Council, who promised to investigate.

In August, blueberries ripen throughout our rugged island, and people delight in picking and enjoying these highly nutritious berries.

Alas, some bountiful blueberries were discovered growing at the back of the cemetery, and now many people were coming to pick them.

This could not be !

A hasty meeting was called of all the parishioners, and it was unanimously decided that a fundraiser would be held to construct a fence around the cemetery to keep people out.

Yesterday, since blueberries are ripe now, we drove over to the little church yard to check it out .

Sure enough, a huge and expensive steel fence was constructed around the yard.

This was no ordinary wooden picket fence. This fence meant business. A sign was prominently posted : NO BERRY PICKING ALLOWED.

We noticed that the old church was peeling paint, and several sections were showing signs of wood rot.

What would Jesus say ?

We are told in the Bible that lives lived in Christ will produce spiritual fruit.(Galatians 5: 22-23).

May the Lord, in His mercy, allow us to remain close to Him, so that our lives will bear the spiritual fruits of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Pixabay photo.

A Prayer For Cheesecake

She did not waste time on small talk.

When Margaret called me twice a month on Wednesdays, she simply said : ‘Can you bring some sandwiches for Sunday?’

I obliged and brought dainty crustless sandwiches to our after service fellowship times. All the ladies brought food ; we looked forward to these times.

I thought, though, that it would be nice to feed others in the village too.

Three times I suggested to our ladies’ group that we could offer a free monthly soup kitchen , or maybe a dessert night to people in the community, as a sign of friendship, and a way to introduce Jesus to others.

However, I am rather soft-spoken, and when I made my suggestion, Susan, the most boisterous of our group would loudly say : ‘That’s too much WORK’, and the ladies would chuckle.

Imagine my surprise when Margaret called and told me that our group was planning to host a dessert night, with tea and coffee, for the public . I felt that my suggestion had been heard !

Immediately I knew that I would contribute my favourite cheesecake.

Then came the disappointing news. They were planning to charge a $7.00 a person admission price for dessert night. I was hoping that dessert night would be free.

The church had some unexpected expenses, and so the ladies organized a fundraiser.

If we wonder why people are not lining up to join our churches, we might consider whether or not we present ourselves as closed cliques to outsiders.

May the Lord make us increasingly sensitive to ways in which we can present the saving grace of the gospel to others.

Praying Twice

Do you sometimes whisper quick prayers for assistance ?

Whenever I noticed ‘Linda’ at church, I prayed that God would give me extra focus and concentration.

I was our church’s music director, and led the congregation in singing.

Linda was one of the most enthusiastic singers I had ever met. She was also blessed with an extremely powerful voice. She, however, did not sing in tune. Technically, Linda lacked pitch accuracy.

Whenever I began to play and sing, Linda joyfully joined in.

However, Linda sang ‘her own tune’, and thus I needed true focus and concentration not to start wandering off key myself. Then, there was the morning when Linda’s notes were so different from my own, that for about half a minute, our voices blended together in exquisite harmony !

This is how God hears our voices when we are praising him in song. He does not notice the quality of our voices ; He delights to see the unity that his children show when they praise Him together.

God inhabits the praises of his people. (Psalm 22:3)

Here in NL, congregational singing is still not allowed. Whoever would have thought that group singing could be considered a dangerous activity ?

When covid restrictions are lifted, it will be joyful to once again sing praises to God.

As St. Augustine said : ‘They who sing once pray twice.’

Photo courtesy of iStock

Flower Flora Daisy and Music Notes Sheets Photo

The Argument

I was on high alert as I entered our seaside chapel for a prayer meeting. A heated argument could be heard. Because of past trauma, angry voices make me highly anxious.

‘Sarah’, and ‘Elizabeth’ were having still another of their many disagreements.

This time it was due to the fact that Sarah had brought a beautiful arrangement of lupins in a vase to place in front of the altar. These gorgeous large wildflowers bloom in abundance in Newfoundland in the summer.

Alas, Elizabeth had already placed an artificial arrangement of pink and white blooms in that spot.

This irked Sarah, who felt the need to remind Elizabeth too loudly that artificial flowers were not allowed in Catholic churches.

Elizabeth felt that the fake flowers were fine. She said that they were more practical, and would look cheerful for years. She said that she felt sad when real flowers started to wilt, and she felt that they were messy.

Sarah confidently defended her position. Real flowers take a prominent place in the Church since live flowers represent the sacrifice of life. Symbolically, flowers represent Christ’s sacrifice for humanity.

Finally, ‘Joan’ , our group’s peacemaker, suggested that Elizabeth place her artificial arrangement at the back of the church. Four years later, it is still there, looking as cheerful as ever.

When Christians bicker and argue, it is, what RJ Dawson calls, ‘a bad witness’.

When Christians are very vocal about who is right, and who is wrong, our ego-filled petty ‘battles’ are unlikely to draw others to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

It is inevitable that we are going to disagree in some areas, but may our differences of opinion always be worked out in a spirit of love, and mutual respect.

Photo of Newfoundland lupins on Pexels

What’s Cooking ?

Have you noticed how some things may be better in theory than in reality ?

A new church was opened in the village, and its pastor used a new technique to try to entice members.

He planned to serve breakfast to prospective congregants before the Sunday morning church service.

This was unusual, since most churches may serve refreshments after the service.

My husband and I attended this new venture, since we like to be supportive of everyone in the village.

It was lovely to see the great care the church members had taken to feed each other. There were all kinds of goodies, and great fellowship.

However, eventually it was found that people had difficulty starting the church service on time, since everyone was so engrossed in breakfast conversation.

Ladies began to trade recipes, especially for muffins and sweets, and the church service started later each week.

The members who had prepared and cooked the food also seemed less attentive during the service, since they were tired from all the preparation, and they knew that they still had clean up duties ahead of them.

We returned to our home church after a while and we still wonder if the breakfasts are ongoing.

We liked this church, and we appreciated the ladies’ ‘Food Ministry’ of care, and love.The atmosphere contrasted with our home church, where members make a frantic rush to the door the minute the service ends.

There appears to be two types of churches, those where congregants like to break bread and socialize, and others where members pray and dash away.

May the Lord give us the grace to feed each other, with physical and spiritual food.

Photo by Joao Marcelo Martins