Some of you may be wondering about the “re-opening” of Spirit West and a return to “live” worship because it was announced yesterday by Premier Kenney and Dr. Hinshaw that Places of Worship may re-open under strict guidelines set out by the province. The information is located in Alberta Biz Connect https://www.alberta.ca/biz-connect.aspx#guidance.
There are also specific guidelines for Places of Worship https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/covid-19-relaunch-guidance-places-of-worship.pdf .
The United Church of Canada has also produced a set of documents relating to the re-opening of churches https://www.united-church.ca/community-faith/being-community/reopening-churches-during-covid-19
The guidelines are all quite strenuous: limited numbers, continued 2m (6 ft) distancing during the service, no choir or congregational singing, no food or beverages, sanitizing public washrooms after each use, as well as the ongoing concern for the presence of people over 60 and those who have existing health concerns or challenged immune systems (this last one affects me as someone over 60 who has had recent lung surgery).
Next week the Spirit West Worship Committee will be meeting (by ZOOM) to review the various guidelines, and begin to develop a plan for Spirit West. The Worship Committee’s thoughts and any recommendations will presented to the Church Board at their (ZOOM) meeting on May 26 for further discussion. In short, we are not going to rush to get back together. We will certainly let you know as things progress. So for now, see you online!
Please see the note below about the possibility of a ZOOM book study.
SPIRIT WEST ONLINE!
Facebook: Spirit West United Church and Friends of Spirit West Outreach
YouTube: Spirt West United Church, Edmonton
I am looking for people who would like to volunteer to read the scripture readings. We will send you the readings for your Sunday, and you can record your reading at home using your phone. When you are done, either send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the video as an attachment, or you can save the video to a memory stick and drop it off at the church (in the mail-box outside if you wish, just let us know). These will need to be in my inbox or at the church by the Thursday before your Sunday.
If you want to volunteer, send an email to Norma at email@example.com and we will include you in the schedule.
This Sunday the scriptures will be read by Rhea O.
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. Email your comments to me or post them on our Facebook page.
SO REMEMBER, AS YOU CONTINUE TO WORSHIP FROM THE SANTUARY CALLED HOME, YOU HAVE OPTIONS…
- Option 1 - Set aside time on Sunday. Follow the Spirit West Services on YouTube. A new Sunday Worship Video is uploaded each Saturday.
- Option 2 - Set aside time on Sunday. Light a candle, read the readings for each day, read and discuss my reflections in the Thursday eMessage, and pray.
- Option 3- “Attend’ one of the live-streaming services from another United Church through the link found in SUNDAY SERVICES LIVE-STREAMING… below.
SUNDAY SERVICES LIVE-STREAMING ACROSS CANADA
There are a number of United Churches (and some Presbyterian) across Canada who are able to live-stream their Sunday services. Check out this interactive map for livestreaming services across Canada: https://arcg.is/1TaKqS (and remember to take into account time zones for churches outside of Alberta)
THIS SUNDAY - THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
The Readings for this Sunday are Acts 17: 22-31and John 14: 15-21. I am going to be calling the story in the Time for All Ages, “Dinglehopper” a reference to the Little Mermaid. My sermon is called, “Things are changing.”
This Sunday is the second last Sunday of the Easter Season. In the readings for Sunday we, through the followers of Jesus, are being prepared for changes. In the reading from Acts, taken from an episode in Paul’s journeys which happens quite a while after the Resurrection, we find Paul in Athens. He tells the people of Athens, who “would spend the their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new” that he has found among their objects of worship an altar, “To an Unknown God.” Paul, aware of the vast pantheon of Greek gods, tells the Athenians that the only God they really don’t know is the one “God who made the world and everything in it.” He then proceeds to teach them this new way of faith and understanding. (side note: the painting with this reflection is called “He was despised and rejected” by Sigismund Goetze (1904). In it the figure of Christ is bound to an altar labelled in Latin “Votum Deo Ignoto” which is a bad Latin translation of Luke’s Greek from Acts “'Αγνώστω θεώ” “to an unknown God.” Jesus is ignored by the best of Edwardian England, apparently only noticed by the Nursing Sister to the right of the altar). In the Gospel, Jesus continues to prepare his followers for a change, for his final departure from them. His followers have already been through Jesus’ death and resurrection, now Jesus is going to leave again. “In a little while the world will see me no more.” It turns out that Jesus followers will make Jesus “visible” by keeping his commandments with the help of the “Spirit of truth.” But they will have to wait a little while.
INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA, TRANSPHOBIA AND BIPHOBIA
This Sunday is also the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. This is an opportunity for us as a society and as a church to acknowledge the ways in which we have marginalized and persecuted those of our community whose sexual orientation or gender expression have been regarded by many for so long as sinful or unnatural. In doing so, often using a biased and faulty understanding of a few passages in Scripture, we have ignored the overriding Commandment of Jesus “to love one another.” “For God so loved the world (the cosmos, all creation)…”
ZOOM BOOK STUDY – “When Bad Things Happen to Good People
I have received a suggestion that at this complicated and challenging time, it might be an idea to look at the book by Rabbi Harold Kushner, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” It is a question that many people nowadays are asking. And according to some studies, they are turning to people and communities of faith for an answer. So what do we say? The old stock answer of “it’s God’s will,” is not going to work, for us, or for anyone. So using Rabbi Kushner’s book as a starting point let us look at how we can speak as people of faith when bad things happen to good people.
This study would take the form of a ZOOM gathering. Participants would acquire copies of the book on their own, digital and print versions are available on line. We would read a chapter or portion of the book each week and then ZOOM together to discuss what we had discovered or what left us with more questions.
If you are interested in being part of this study, please email a note to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope we can get started fairly soon.
YOUR BOTTLES FOR THE CHURCH – (Throw your bottles at the [mortgage] principle)
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 principle on our mortgage.
We would like to offer a big thank you to those of you who have been able to support the work of Spirit West, particularly those of you who have mailed in your donations or dropped them off at the church. You generosity, as well as that of those on PAR, is greatly appreciated, especially as we have lost our rental income.
Please remember that if you are not on PAR(Pre-Authorized Remittance), you can 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 by Norma’s office. We are also working on making e-transfers possible. We will let you know in a future Thursday eMessage when this option is available. You can also donate online, see ANOTHER WAY TO CONTRIBUTE… below.
OUTREACH – Underwear and Face Masks Needed at Bissell Centre
A big thank you to those of you who have been dropping underwear at the church (another phrase I was not prepared for in seminary) But 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 (there are boxes just inside the doors), 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.
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 email@example.com. 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.
At the present time, 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