Today’s Thought – July 14, 2020

Scripture: 2 Samuel 6

Do any of you have a pair of shoes like this?

There are all kinds of shoes for dancing. Ballet dancers have special slippers that give them flexibility and help them move more gracefully. On the other extreme, there are tap shoes and clogs. These shoes are made to make noise when you move.

Whatever your style of dance, there’s a perfect shoe, isn’t there?

There aren’t too many passages in the Bible about dancing, but there is one involving one of the most famous men in the Bible, David. David had just become king of Israel after many years of running and hiding from the former king, Saul. He was a long way from the boy who killed Goliath. He was a grown man, a married man, the most powerful man in Israel.

So why was David dancing? Because he was praising God!

David had decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred treasure in all of Israel, to the capital city of Jerusalem. This was an occasion for worship and celebration, and David was front and center leading the worship. The Bible tells us he was half-naked, dancing and singing and praising the Lord.

Can you imagine the prime minister or mayor leading a parade and dancing? It seems a little undignified, doesn’t it? These are people who are supposed to look professional, mature, and serious. People in power don’t dance half-naked down the street, do they?

That’s exactly what David’s wife Michal said when he went home that day. She yelled at him for dancing and praising God! She told him straight out: You made a fool of yourself today.

But you know what David told her? He told her he didn’t care! He danced for one person and one person only, and that was the Lord. In fact, he told his wife, “I will become even more undignified than this!”

David loved God more than anyone. He cared what God thought more than what his wife or anyone else thought. That’s a challenge for all of us, isn’t it?

Whose opinion matters most to you?

Telling Our Faith Stories – July 13, 2020 – Rev. Paul DuVal

Ancient Hebrew herders would gather at night around a fire and tell stories. Often they were stories about their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Stories about how Abraham was promised a land by God, and the improbable, perhaps miraculous way that that promise was fulfilled when the Hebrew people took possession of the land of Israel.

Many centuries later, and thousands of kilometers away, the hunters and warriors of the Plains Cree would gather around a fire and tell stories. They were stories passed on from their ancestors about how human community developed on Turtle Island, and the evolution of the Clan culture, and how the ceremonies celebrating the seasons came around.

Many years later, the Presbyterian immigrants brought their stories of rescuing the church of Jesus Christ from the abuses of the Catholics, and surviving the oppression of the English aristocracy, and through faith and entrepreneurial spirit, they were determined to create vibrant community in a new land. And at the same time the Methodists, the English church of the working class, followed the workers, and established missions to the Indigenous, and shelters for the poor, and claimed to be the church for the forgotten and dispossessed.

Then, in the spirit of the age of unity Canada’s confederation dovetailed with the uniting of the major protestant churches to create what was called “The Church With the Soul of a Nation”.

What are your memories of the United Church? What did your grandparents tell you?

Today we are creating new stories of faith. What do you imagine the story of Jesus will be going forward?  I invite you to respond with your thought and stories to PrairieSpiritUC@shaw.ca.

Let’s create a new story.

Today’s Thought – July 10, 2020

Scripture: Daniel 1

Do you eat celery or carrots on a regular basis? Given the choice, would you pick veggies over crackers, cookies, candy, or anything else?

Would you rather have a delicious candy bar instead? As you think about your answer, let me tell you a story about a boy named Daniel.

Daniel was an Israelite. He was still just a boy when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered the Israelites. After conquering Israel, Nebuchadnezzar took hundreds of young boys like Daniel captive, bringing them into his palace. They were not prisoners, however. These boys were enrolled in a special school, where they learned the law of Babylon. If they did well, they would have a chance to serve the king in his palace.

Living in the palace meant the boys in this program got to eat like royalty. They were brought the best-tasting, fattiest, sweetest, tastiest food imaginable. Most of the boys ate it up, but one day, the king’s servants received a request from Daniel and his friends to eat vegetables and drink water.

The king’s servants were upset by this. They were responsible for keeping the boys well-fed, and if they didn’t eat, they were failing in their duties. They and the king were surprised by the request for healthy food. Not only was it bold to challenge the king’s rules, but also they were asking for plain old water and vegetables. It didn’t make any sense!

Daniel convinced the servants to test them on the veggie diet. If they weren’t as healthy as the other students in a few weeks, they would give up the veggies and eat the king’s food. Can you guess what happened? Daniel and his friends were healthier than the other boys. They were so healthy, the king ordered that all the students be put on the same veggie diet!

What can we learn from Daniel and his friends? One obvious lesson is to eat your veggies. But there’s a bigger lesson to be learned here: self-discipline. The boys could have given in and gone along with the crowd, but they wanted to stick with the healthy diet they had always eaten. They refused to give in, they took the hard road, and they were rewarded. All four of them eventually became officials in the government.

Self-discipline isn’t easy, but when it comes to choosing God’s way or the world’s way, it’s the only way to go. It will keep you healthy, wise, strong, and better able to be used by God.

Today’s Thought – July 9, 2020

Scripture: Exodus 31:1-11

How many of you have one of these? The iPhone, whether you’re a fan or not, completely changed the way people use the telephone. When Apple decided to create the iPhone, they wanted to make it simple, easy to use, and, above all, a work of art.

The “art” of the iPhone was the work of a man named Jonathan Ive. Jonathan Ive is not an engineer or a computer expert. He is an artist, and if you don’t believe me, you can go to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to see some of the amazing designs he has created for Apple.

Apple didn’t have to make the iPhone, the iPad, or any of its Mac computers beautiful, but the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, insisted on making them that way. Before Jobs hired Jonathan Ive, computers were bulky and boxy. They were functional, but they were not attractive. Steve Jobs changed all that, and Jonathan Ive was the man he chose to make it happen.

Artistic creativity is a gift from God. In the book of Exodus, we see just how much God values this gift. God had just given Moses the Ten Commandments, and he was giving instructions for building the Tabernacle – a traveling temple that would serve as the seat of worship for the Israelites as they traveled to the Promised Land.

God had very specific instructions for the design of the temple, and he chose by name the men who would do the work: Bezalel and Oholiab. God told Moses that he had given both men wisdom, skill, and knowledge to make artistic designs using gold, silver, wood, and other materials. God gave them these skills for the specific purpose of making the Tabernacle, his dwelling place among the Israelites.

God didn’t have to make the Tabernacle beautiful. He wanted it to be beautiful. He wanted the Israelites to see a beauty in the Tabernacle and be reminded of their Creator – a God who values not only creativity, but also beauty.

God has given each one of us gifts. Some of us are artists. Some are musicians. Others may be gifted speakers or teachers. Whatever gift you have been given, God has a plan for you, and no gift is insignificant. Whatever you do with your gift, do it as if you are working for the Lord. Always remember that it was God who gave you your gifts, and don’t be afraid to let others know that God is your inspiration.

Today’s Thought – July 7, 2020

Scripture: John 6:1-14

When you went to school, did you have a lunch box like this? Did you bring your lunch to school, or did you buy lunch in the cafeteria? Did you ever trade snacks and goodies with your friends?

Today I want to tell you about a boy with a lunch box. In his case, it was probably a basket, and the lunch he took might not be worth much in trade. He had five small loaves of bread and two pieces of fish. Would you be willing to give up your cookies for a piece of fish?

The boy wasn’t going to school that day, but he was going to hear a great teacher: Jesus. He was one in a large number of people who went to hear Jesus that day. The Bible says there were 5,000 men. If we guess, there was one woman and two children for every man there. That means this little boy was one of at least 20,000 people gathered to hear Jesus speak!

It was getting late in the day, and Jesus was still speaking to the crowd. It was close to suppertime, and many of the people were probably getting hungry. Very few, if any, of them brought food like the little boy did.

At the front of the crowd, Jesus’ disciples were telling him to send the people away so they could get dinner. But then Jesus, as he often did, put a challenge to the disciples: You give them something to eat! The disciples were beside themselves. It would cost a fortune to feed so many people!

Now we don’t know how it happened, but somehow, this little boy found out that Jesus was looking to feed the crowd. One of the disciples brought him to Jesus, and the little boy offered the little food that he had: five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus took the food and blessed it. Then he began to break up the food and distribute it among the people with his disciples. Suddenly, one little boy’s lunch fed more than 20,000 people – with 12 baskets of food left over!

It would have been very easy for the little boy to keep his lunch for himself. He was one person in a crowd of 20,000, and what difference would five loaves of bread and two fish make in a crowd that large? But the little boy didn’t keep it to himself. He gave all he had. He placed it in Jesus’ hands, and look what Jesus did with it!

No gift is too small when given to the Lord, and no offering is too small to make a difference. Remember that, and look for opportunities to give to God and to others. You’ll be amazed at what he can do with a giving heart!

Today’s Thought – July 6, 2020 by Rev. Paul DuVal

“Telling our faith stories to all generations.”

For the past few months, Rev. Ken Delisle has curated these daily reflections, offering a thought for the day, a word of wisdom, or a blessing. I know I have found them stimulating and grounding. Ken finished his term at Prairie Spirit on June 30, and we thank him for his work and wish him a restful summer.

For July and August, we are going to continue these daily spots, and try some experiments. Please offer feedback, let us know what you like, and what is not so helpful, give us your ideas what you would like to see, what your faith questions are, and how the church helps you be a better human being.

Our Mission Statement says one of the ways we live our mission is by telling the stories of our faith to all generations. On Mondays, we will ask what that means. What are the stories that guided the lives of our previous congregations? What is the story we are creating anew together? Some of the stories come from the Bible; some of them come from our families. Let’s have a conversation together.

On Wednesdays, the focus will be on personal faith and spirituality  I’ll share a theme from Rev. Richard Rohr, who has much wisdom to share about prayer and the inner journey.

On Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, Candace Maxymowich, our administrator, will share some thoughts of her own. So, some variety, some conversation, learning for all of us. 

For today, think of a time when church touched you in a deep and moving way, and you were hooked. If you can, tell the story in a paragraph, and send it to PrairieSpiritUC@shaw.ca.  We’ll share your stories in this space. Thanks for sharing the conversation!

Rev. Paul

Today’s Thought – June 30, 2020 by Rev. Ken DeLisle

“May I truly live this day, O God, knowing what a gift this day is, knowing how fortunate, how blessed I am to have this day.” – My Daily Reflection, June 30, 2020

This is my last day with Prairie Spirit and my last time to do Today’s Thought.

And I am blessed by this day as it comes flooded with memories of our time together. And there were more joyful times than painful times. We created a new entity. We formed a new community. We found who you are.

And today, I pass it on to Paul and to all of you.

Thank you for your work and your support.

Here are my parting words.

So fill to me the parting glass
And drink a health whate’er befalls
Then gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all.
–  Alice Parker, The Parting Glass lyrics © Wb Music Corp., Arvee Music, Liffey Music, Embassy Music Publishing Pty Ltd

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of [God’s] hand.
– Traditional Irish Blessing

Today’s Thought – June 29, 2020 by Rev. Ken DeLisle

Music in worship is sometimes a touchy subject. 

Some want more of the traditional songs and some want new and exciting music. Define exciting.

Some only want classical or religious music for prelude and postlude. Define classical. Define religious.

I have used music from different genres including movies and Broadway.

Today’s video made me think of a service with “modern” and “traditional” music.

How about, Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend” matched with “What a Friend We Have In Jesus”?

We could have the whole service on friendship. We could have friends tell their story of how they became friends. What builds the trust, fun, depth of friendship? And when did you know you were friends?

Then compare that with our relationship with the Divine. That makes all friendships divine. They are holy relationships. Your friend is God in human form, there for you under any circumstances.

Who is your best friend? When was the last time you told them how much you need them? How long since you said thank you to them?

Do that today. Say thanks or send a thank you card or a friendship card. Say a prayer of gratitude or send a small gift.

And remember the Divine friend who is with you always. Say thanks to them as well.

After all, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” – John Lennon, Paul McCarthy

Today’s Thought – June 28, 2020 by Rev. Ken DeLisle

As I wind down my time with you, I love today’s video.

It takes us from how insignificant we are to how blessed we are.

We are reminded of how vast the cosmos is and how small we are compared to that greatness and yet God has given us so much beauty on this very small blue planet. We are unique on a unique planet brimming with life and joy and blessings.

In Psalm 139 (my favourite psalm), we pray
“How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.” (verses 17-18)

Today, instead of sand, we could say stars or even galaxies for we haven’t seen an edge or end to the cosmos yet!

Can you image that?! And yet, God loves us beyond our imagination!

To quote Psalm 139 again, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (verse 14) Each of us is unique and a gift to the world. God created us and this world and this cosmos out of love.

And that’s what it is about – love.

Love who you are and where you are.

Today, whether inside or outside, home or hospital or hotel or camping, love where you are.

It is all fearfully and wonderfully made for you.