Besides the regular Thursday information, we also have the latest from the Board on “re-opening,” an update on “Bottles for the Church,” and I am repeating the warning that came out from Northern Spirit Region regarding phone/email scams.
Caution: Watch out for Email and Phone Scams Targeting Church members
Some scammers appear to have gotten bored during COVID and have improved their skills of late. Scammers can use any publicly available information to ask for money or to claim to be from the national United Church, the Regional Council Office, or the Canada Revenue Agency. They can often find your name on your church website. If you get any email appearing to be from the United Church of Canada or Northern Spirit Region asking for money or claiming to be about finances, no matter how convincing it looks, do NOT click on any of the links. Do NOT ever click on an attached file. Do NOT reply. Hover your mouse over the link or email address without clicking, and your system should show you more information. Most of the time the link or email will include a string of letters and numbers and you’ll be able to tell that it isn’t what it claims to be. If you feel there’s a chance the request is legitimate, call the person who appears to be sending the request for more information before you even think of sending money or responding. You can also search online for “phishing” to improve your scam detection skills.
AN UPDATE ON RE-OPENING (It’s not yet)
The Spirit West Church Board met by ZOOM on Tuesday night and accepted the Worship Committee’s recommendation that, because of the continuing restrictions on religious gatherings, (no more than 50 people, physical distancing at all times, no singing, no food, no hugs or handshakes, staggered entry etc.) we will continue with YouTube services. Our Worship Videos will be provided as long as it is necessary, likely throughout the summer. Whether we open up in September is unknown at this point. Over the summer the Worship Committee will continually monitor changes in Government and Public Health regulations and guidelines, as well as those from Northern Spirit Regional and General Council offices, and will respond as necessary. We’ll will keep you up to date with regard to any changes.
This Sunday – Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
This Sunday, we are returning to the Lectionary and settling into the Sundays after Pentecost or Ordinary Time, the green season.
The Scripture Readings are from the Song of Solomon 2: 8-13 and Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30. A reading from the Song of Solomon only appears twice in the Lectionary, once in year A (this Sunday) and once in year B, and it is the same verses both times. The Song of Solomon is an extended love poem, and can get pretty racy in places. But it is part of the great variety of literature that is our Bible.
During the Time for All Ages I will be talking about when “It’s too heavy!”. My sermon title is, “The Burden of Expectations.”
The Gospel reading for this Sunday is in two parts and ends with the statement of Jesus, “ For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” But the journey to that verse takes some interesting turns. At the start of the first part, we have Jesus comparing us to children in the market place. There seems to be some disagreement between the children, one group does not seem to be following the lead of the other. Jesus then continues with an observation about what he has seen in the reaction of some people to his ministry and that of John the Baptist. Jesus remarks that John did not drink or eat (read party) and people said he was “a demon,” Referring to himself as the Son of Man, Jesus says he came eating and drinking and the people said he was a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Obviously there were expectations about what a ”prophet” should be like, and neither John nor Jesus met those expectation, for the opposite reasons. Jesus ends these observations by noting, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (We then skip a few verses about “unrepentant cities.”) And then Jesus continues by remarking that, in contrast to expectations, it is not the wise or intelligent who understand Jesus message, but infants. Jesus concludes with an invitation to those who are weary or carry heavy burdens. Much of what we do in life is based on what is expected of us by others, the burden of expectations. This is even true in our journey of faith. There are many in our society who know what a “good Christian” does. This usually involves expectations (rules) about behaviour (Thou shalt not…) I think that the “burden” that is placed upon us as Christians can actually be expressed by going back to the prophet Micah, “and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Communion this Sunday
This Sunday, we will celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The celebration at the Church will involve only three people from the congregation as well as Paul (videographer) and I, but I would like you to be able to participate as fully as you can. So I would suggest that, if you can, watch the video at our usual church time of 10:30 on Sunday morning and that you have some bread and grape juice (or wine) for each member of your household. Follow the service and share together at your table, be it the kitchen table, dining table or the TV table you have put in front of your television. And as you share the bread and cup in your home, know that others are sharing at the Table of Christ in their homes and around the world.
SPIRIT WEST ONLINE!
Facebook: Spirit West United Church and Friends of Spirit West Outreach
YouTube: Spirt West United Church, Edmonton
SPIRIT WEST WORSHIP VIDEOS
To volunteer to be a scripture reader for one of our worship videos, send an email to Norma at email@example.com We will include you in the schedule and we will send you all the information you need about the options you have for recording your segment.
The Scripture Reader for this Sunday is Diane L.
Sharing our Celebrations
In this time when it is important for us to look for signs of hope and joy, opportunity is being given for folks to share their celebrations (birthdays, anniversaries, new grandchildren etc) with the wider community. If you have a celebration you want to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the church. (must be sent in before 10:00 am on Friday for inclusion on the Sunday) During the opening section or our Worship Video, I will announce celebrations that have been shared with me.
We are continuing to invite members of the congregations to share virtual greetings as part of our Sunday Worship Video. It is a way for us to see each other. Bonnie C. is spearheading this program, and has been doing the recording. You may get a call from her asking if you want to be a “Greeter.” If you have not heard from Bonnie and want to be a greeter, you can call the church and your name will be given to Bonnie, or you can record you own greeting. Record a 10-30 second greeting on your phone (record in “landscape,” hold your phone horizontally, this way ‘---,’ not this way ‘I’) and email your video to email@example.com . We will only be using three each week, so your greetings might not appear, the Sunday after you send them.
I appreciate all the positive feedback that we have received about the Worship Videos. We (Margaret, Bonnie, Glenn, Paul W. and I) are trying our best to provide you with something that will assist you in your faith journey during this “crazy” time. We would also like to hear from you if you have suggestions on how we could make the videos better or more helpful (like Scripture readers, Greeters, music with the hymns …). Email your comments to me firstname.lastname@example.org or post them on our Facebook page.
ZOOM BOOK STUDY – Wednesdays, at 1:30 “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”
We will be discussing chapter 6. “God Helps Those Who Stop Hurting Themselves” at our ZOOM gathering next Wednesday, July 8 at 1:30.
I realize this is a Statutory Holiday, but if you are not going anywhere, join us.
To join the gathering, save this email and on Wednesday click (you might have to ctrl-click) on this ZOOM Link
Because this is a “recurring event,” the one ZOOM link will work for all sessions of the study. If you are not familiar with ZOOM, give me a call at the church and I will walk you through the process. You can also join the study by phone, but you will have to call me before Wednesday so that I can give you the numbers you need. I will also be posting the information about this study to our Facebook page.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT (and this is not a Scam)
We can now accept donations by eTransfer. The contact name for the eTransfer is Spirit West United Church, and the email address is email@example.com . If you include a security question with your eTransfer, please notify Norma at the church office by phone or email. And remember that if you are not on PAR(Pre-Authorized Remittance), you can also mail in cheques to the church office (Spirit West United Church, 7003 – 199 St. Edmonton, AB T5T 3A8, include your envelope number if you have one.) The church office is open and you can drop off your offering/donation in the offering plate just inside the front doors. You can also donate online, see ANOTHER WAY TO CONTRIBUTE… below.
OUTREACH – Underwear and Face Masks Needed at Bissell Centre
There is still a need at Bissell for UNDERWEAR. Ladies and Men’s - sizes Medium and Large.
If any of you would like to shop and deliver undies to the church, Lori will pick them up and deliver them to the Bissell Centre. If you would rather have your donation picked up, call the church office to arrange it.
They are also taking donations of FABRIC FACE MASKS. So any of you crafty people out there - We know there are a few quilters out there with a good stash of fabric - if you would like a little project to do in your self-isolation (patterns can be found online) ..... Again - these can be dropped at the church (or call the church office to arrange pick-up) and Lori will deliver them to the Bissell Centre.
YOUR BOTTLES FOR THE CHURCH (with an update)
Now that you are spending more time at home, and perhaps (though I hope not) drinking more, you may have bottles piling up for recycling. You can still bring them to the church (or you can call for pick up). If you want to bring your bottles (and any other recyclable beverage containers) in during our office hours and put them directly in the Bottle Shed (by the garage), give us a call, and we can have the shed open for you. All money raised from the return of bottles goes towards paying down the principal on our mortgage. The latest run to the Bottle Depot resulted in $181.00 for the church.
PASTORAL CARE DURING A PANDEMIC
A team has been put together to begin a phone ministry. We will be reaching out by phone to members of Spirit West to remind ourselves that we are a community of faith, even if at the moment we have to practice social distancing, and in some cases self-isolation. The team will initially target those whom we believe are most likely to be isolated. We may not always get it right. If you get a call, and think you really didn’t need it, thank the caller anyway. If you don’t hear from anyone in the next week or so, and really would like a call, let me know. We are playing this by ear in an “interesting” time.
If you are self-isolating for whatever reason (you are not feeling well, you are in a susceptible population, or you are just not taking chances) and you cannot get out to do shopping, let us know. There are people in the congregation who will do your shopping and deliver it to your home. Mention this to the caller from the phone ministry, or call or send an email to the church to let us know.
If you would like to volunteer as a “shopper” let me know by phone or email.
David S. has started a Casserole Ministry as part of Pastoral Care. Volunteers from Pastoral Care at Spirit West will deliver a casserole to someone in isolation, recovering from illness, or grieving the loss of family members.
We would need a supply of three or four casseroles made by members of Spirit West in tin foil pans and frozen in the church freezer available for delivery. The casseroles should be dated and labelled with all ingredients and the instructions for reheating. The supply of casseroles can be replenished as needed. If you are interested in providing a casserole please call David S. so he can keep an accurate inventory of casseroles (not too many, not too few).
Spirit West Prayer Chain
Prayer is important. We know that people still face challenges and difficulties not related to Covid-19, and we cannot forget them. Our Prayer Chain will continue to be active. If you have a prayer request, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. These requests will be shared regularly with the prayer chain.
ANOTHER WAY TO CONTRIBUTE FINANCIALLY TO SPIRIT WEST DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
You are stuck home, Spirit West is not holding services, you are not on PAR, but you want to make a financial contribution to the work of Spirit West, because the church has bills to pay even when we are not gathering on Sunday. Check out the online donation option on our website spiritwest.org and click on the Donate tab in the navigation bar.
The Spirit West Church office remains open.
- Norma => Noon to 5:00 pm, Monday to Thursday
- Larry => 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Tuesday to Friday
(Rev.) Larry K. Wright, CD, BA, MDiv
Spirit West United Church