Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018

A Time to Try

Scripture Reading: John 3:14-21

Focus: A Time to Try


Embedded in today’s scripture are famous words from our Christian tradition. Many people carry these words memorized on their hearts or proclaim them on signs at sporting events. John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, the he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, will not perish, but have eternal life. For us, as Christians, Jesus is our way, he shared with us the way of life abundant as the Message translation of this text makes clear:
 
16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

That is our prayer throughout this Lenten time and beyond; that our actions may be part of the trying to make the world right again, of living in full abundance with the gifts that God
has given. During the last two weeks nations have been focused on the winter Olympics, on the pursuit of excellence in sport, God’s amazing creation of the human body and the breadth of gifts in people from all over the world. Each competition, each story of athlete or team we have followed relates to the challenges of our own lives. We can connect our own stories to the highs and lows of winning and losing, personal bests and devastating injuries, trying and missing the mark then getting up and trying again -  stories of what it means to be alive.

We live this life fully, as we follow in the way of the One whose love and grace exceeds all we could ever imagine, who saves us and who only asks us to try as we face whatever life holds.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to love one another as you love the world, let us open our eyes to see all the right and wrong that we have done. Let us open our lips to speak what is right and not wrong. Help us to make good decisions, be strong and not give up as we try to live our lives following your example. Amen

Rev Maya Landell


 

Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018

Who do you say I am?

Scripture Reading: Mark 8:27-30

Focus: Who do you say I am?


If someone were to ask you the question Jesus asks of his disciples in this reading, what would you say? It’s one of those questions where there is no one answer. The banners that flank the front of the sanctuary for part of the year can attest to that.

I have discovered that my answer has changed and continues to change as I learn more about Jesus and the Trinity of which He is a part. I have also found that I address God by various names depending on my need. Sometimes I need a Gentle Shepherd to rescue me when I feel lost. Other times I need to lift my cares and concerns to the All-Knowing One who can untangle any mess in due time. I sing praises to an Awesome Creator when my attention is captured by a diamond-like dewdrop glistening at the centre of an intricately woven spider’s web. I gives thanks to a Gracious God who loves me unconditionally even when I make the same mistakes again and again. When I see injustices in the world and don’t know what to do, I can appeal to Jehovah-Jireh like our ancient ancestors, with confidence that deliverance will be provided in ways I could never imagined.

Tomorrow several members of our congregation will begin our annual Week of Guided Prayer, where they will do the best they can to be intentional about reading passages of scripture each day that develop a theme. Participating in this week regularly since 1999 has provided me with the courage and confidence to walk through many valleys. Through the readings and conversations with a trained Companion, I discovered that Jesus is my best friend and together with the Holy Spirit’s guidance I can encounter God in all things at all times – even in me.

The Week of Guided Prayer Network has graciously allowed us to use the daily readings and reflections as our Lenten Devotionals for the next week starting Monday. Join us as we reflect on Living in God’s Time.

Prayer: Almighty God, Help me clear away the distractions that interfere with my desire to know you better. Open me to discovering you and your love in fresh new ways. Amen

Dale Kucharczyk


 

Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Friday, Feb. 23, 2018

Fasting

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 58:1-12

Focus: Fasting


Fasting. Not something that many of us in the United Church are very familiar with as a Spiritual Practise, but this passage from Isaiah speaks directly about physical Fasting. For many throughout the ages, Fasting has been and is a discipline that prompts a deeper awareness of the Spiritual. For many Religions, Fasting is part of one’s faith life. It is a practise that brings one closer to God.
 
During the season of Lent we often hear people say, “I’m giving … up for Lent.” As a spiritual practise, it may be food during a certain time of day or certain foods like chocolate or sweets, but Isaiah says, we can’t fast without action. This passage reminds me that practices I choose to draw me closer to God need to open me to the needs of others. We find this reflected in Matthew 25:30-41.
 
Listening to CBC Radio one morning I was fascinated as someone spoke about his experience on a spiritual pilgrimage in Ireland. There was a lot of walking, meditating, praying, and fasting. The pilgrims were to fast for three days, while regularly reciting the Lord’s Prayer. At first, he remarked, he merely rattled off the prayer as rote learning. By the end of the third day of fasting, the line “Give us this day our daily bread” took on a whole new significance. Hunger illuminated the words “give us” not “give me.”
 
It is this that our scripture reading calls us to observe: In our desire to find ways to be closer to God the deepest needs of our community of mortals is revealed and we are called to serve others. Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the US congress, said: “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” I would suggest Service to all is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on God’s Earth.
 
 
Prayer: Loving God help us to feel the hunger of Your world so that we may be your hands and feet bringing Your Love and Peace. Amen.
 
Jack Grady


 

Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

Voices United Hymn #262

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

by Martin Luther


1. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.


2. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.


3. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.


4. That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.


What image do you have of God? What picture or words come to mind when you think of our Creator?

Spending time with a rather stern Sunday school teacher when I was young, gave me a strong image of God as judge. Later I began to see the loving, forgiving and gentle spirit of God.

Martin Luther chose a mighty fortress as his image of a God, an idea that may not resonate with us today. However, Luther, who wrote both the music and lyrics of this beloved hymn around 1527, was intimately acquainted with fortresses.

The photograph below is of Wartburg Castle, built in the 12th century, an exemplary hilltop castle of the feudal period in Central Europe. Serving as a fort and splendid residence, it was a place of safety, shelter and retreat for its inhabitants. This castle provided Martin Luther refuge in 1521 for almost a year after he was ostracized and excommunicated by Rome. Luther was forced to live here against his will, in exile under a false name and disguised by growing his hair and beard.  

Life was difficult. There are records of his struggles with ill health, both physical and mental. Luther reported he was often pestered by the devil during his stay at Wartburg. His statement that he had “driven the devil away with ink” is usually ascribed to his using his time there to begin translating the New Testament from Latin to German. For Luther, God was a great protector, a source of strength and inspiration.

This hymn is full of so many incredible truths! Verse one speaks of God’s great power and also the immense power of evil. In verse two we are instructed not to trust in our own strength but in God’s authority. Verse 3 assures us that by focusing on God, we will be liberated from fear; what an awesome promise! Verse 4 gives us the Kingdom perspective on our lives: That God’s love is the only thing that abides. The guidance and gifts of the Holy Spirit are more important than possessions, family and our mortal life. What a powerful depiction of the Christian life!

Luther was well aware of the challenges of life in the late middle ages. Aside from his ostracism by the church, he was intimately aware of war, famine, and plague; all a part of the lives of most people. He was aware that living in these social conditions could be a source of constant fear. The ancient foes of evil, spoken about in verse one, are just as strong today as they were in 1527. We can be filled with fear for our political, physical and environmental safety. Like Luther we need to trust in God, our mighty fortress!

Prayer: Thank you Lord for your command to fear not! We can trust in your strength that overcomes hate and evil. Thank you for giving us power to live each day in your love with you as our protector.  Amen

Margot Jewell


 

Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018

Against all hope…

Scripture Reading: Romans 4: 13-25

“Against all hope, Abraham believed in hope…” vs.18


Sometimes in life we hit a roadblock where the future looks grim and the road ahead impossible to travel. Such was the case for a childless couple named Abraham and Sarah. Then God promised Abraham that he would become the Father of many nations and his descendants would be countless as the stars in the heavens. Abraham’s only requirement was to believe; to have faith in the midst of all the evidence to the contrary. The less likely this promise appeared in his old age, the more tenaciously Abraham believed. Paul explains in today’s passage that it was due to Abraham’s faith that he was deemed ‘righteous’, not because of any of his deeds or compliance with the ‘law’ but only his steadfast belief against all odds.

How could Abraham maintain his faith in God’s promise in the face of difficulties and seeming impossibilities? This is comparable to our modern dilemma when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus. Do we believe in the face of all odds that God has brought Jesus to life again to make us right with himself?

When faced with a major life challenge it is far easier to give in to doubt and hopelessness, even despair, than to trust in God’s unfailing love. Life is full of loss, grief and tragedy which so often become our focus. In our secular, God-denying society it is hard to ‘keep the faith’ and sustain hope. Yet making faith the active ingredient in our minds and hearts is the antidote to cynicism and despair. “Faith shows us the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see” says the writer of the Hebrews (11:1).

Jesus gave himself to the service of love and trusted God would raise him up; that violence, sin, grief and separation would not be the final word in the human story. Let us embrace this kind of resurrection faith and change the world.

Prayer: God of resurrection power and love, free our minds and hearts to trust you completely even when we cannot see the evidence. Give us the steadfast mind and unwavering heart of Abraham and Sarah to believe in the future you have promised; united with You and all your children.    Amen
 
Pattie Aitchison

 

Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018

In Whom Do You Trust?

Scripture Reading: Psalm 25:1-10

Focus: In Whom Do You Trust?


In whom do we put our trust?

There was a very popular teacher at one of the schools my kids went to. This was the kind of teacher that ran the extracurricular activities and engaged students in class with novel ways of teaching. Parents requested their kids be in the teacher’s class; kids wanted to be in this teacher’s class.

Our local community was shocked when at the end of one summer the teacher was suspended. We heard on the news that several charges had been laid against this person and that out of concern for the student’s safety the teacher was not allowed to return to the school.

Another story that caught my attention recently was the removal of the statue of Cornwallis from a park in Halifax. Cornwallis was the leader sent by Britain, in the mid 1700’s, to establish a colony in what is now Halifax.

I wonder what it was like for those first settlers. These folks were isolated in a harsh environment, a long way from home. The winters were long and the food had to last until the next growing season. The French who already had an established presence were hostile. They paid local indigenous people for British prisoners and scalps. Survival was not guaranteed and Cornwallis provided the leadership that allowed the colony to get a foothold. Cornwallis’ methods were brutal. He paid for scalps of the Mi’kmaq and drove them from the area. He was blind to their claim on the land and the poor treatment given to them has caused bad feeling centuries later.

People put their trust in both the teacher and Cornwallis. They trusted them to lead the way, set the rules, to be examples but both have been judged to have led people down the wrong path.

The psalmist calls us to trust in God, not in other people – ‘in you, Lord my God, I put my trust’ (v 1). God shows us the way ‘show me your ways Lord, teach me your paths’(v 4).

God has designed us with a notion of what is right and wrong. As we decide how to live our lives each day, it is God’s voice of right and wrong that we can choose to listen to when deciding which paths to follow.

The psalmist says ‘teach me your paths’ and ‘my hope in you is all day long’ implying this is an ongoing process. We can see that in the way our laws and attitudes change over time.

It’s a natural thing to follow role models and leaders. We could probably all say we have trusted and learned from loved ones, teachers, religious and political leaders. If we are all learning God’s ways some people may have a better understanding of them than others. I don’t believe we should follow blindly. Our ultimate trust should be in God – we should keep listening to that voice of right and wrong. After all some paths have taken centuries to learn. 

Prayer: Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Amen

Geoff Isaacs


 

Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Monday, Feb. 19, 2018

God’s Beautiful Reminder

Scripture Reading: Genesis 9:8-17

Focus: God’s Beautiful Reminder


I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. (V13)
 
It was the end of March and there was a slight mist in the air. I could smell the fresh scent of spring and I could hear the call of the cardinals, outside our window. My husband and I were driving up to the top of the beautiful, scenic Beaver Valley. As we turned onto a side road, the sun came bursting through the clouds. Then, over the road was the most magnificent rainbow I have ever seen. The colours were soft, but bright - the most beautiful shades of pink, blue, yellow and gray. It was the most spectacular rainbow I had ever seen. It brought to mind the promise that God gave to Noah, after the flood which destroyed the earth. God told Noah, “Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.”(vs 14-15)
 
Every time I see one of God’s beautiful rainbows, I am reminded of His promise to us. In this season of Lent, there is also the reminder that Jesus will come again. Praise be to God.
 
Prayer: Loving and gracious Father, creator of all things living, we thank you for the snowcapped mountains that melt into spring’s falling mist, bringing forth all things new. When the raindrops cease and the sun comes peaking through the clouds, bringing forth your rainbow of colours, let us be reminded of the covenant you promised Noah and to all generations to come. Amen
 
Sally Cancilla

 

Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018

The Time Has Come

Scripture Reading: Mark 1: 9-15

Focus: The Time Has Come
 

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”(v 15)
 
In Mark’s account, the first words Jesus says are, “The time has come.” That’s how he announces the beginning of his ministry, as he starts sharing the good news about the kingdom of God. On the first Sunday of Lent, the sense of urgency in this passage takes on a special meaning. What are we called to do, and what beginnings are we being asked to take on?
 
Many of us may have elected to give up something we love for Lent, and that’s great. But if it’s really a fresh start, perhaps we can commit to a new spiritual discipline that we keep up after Easter is over. I’m writing this devotion on the Sunday before Lent begins. I thought about making a fresh start in my own life as I finished a work assignment just in time to sprint to church, then made a beeline home after service so I could finalize it with my co-workers. Why are my co-workers and I working flat-out on a Sunday morning? I didn’t make that decision consciously – rather, it snuck up on me as the demands of work grew and I adjusted my time accordingly.
 
So what I’m taking on for Lent is the pursuit of simplicity. That means getting rid of what I don’t need, spending more time in nature and, yes, making a conscious decision about how I spend my time. And I’ll do my best to continue those practices after Easter has passed. The time has come for me to put God back in the centre of my life.
 

Prayer: God of new beginnings, be with us on our Lenten journeys. Remind us that it’s never too late to seek a new path. Help us find the spiritual disciplines that lead us back to you. Amen
 
Beth Pollock


 

Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018

A Hunger Insatiable

Scripture Reading: John 6:35

Focus: A Hunger Insatiable
 

I'm hungry. We all are. Every soul on the planet is hungry. We each have a spiritual hunger and we all try to sate it physically – with things and with acts and by using other people. We all have this longing deep inside for a kind of peace, an assurance that we are loved and accepted just as we are. This universal and undeniable hunger is, for me, the reason I go to church. This is not a sudden realization, or one of those moments of elucidation or epiphany. I've been thinking about this for many years.

Our hunger can be recognized most often by noting the use of two little words, words we speak from our lips and in our hearts dozens of times every day:

I want ...

I want new furniture. I want a holiday. I want my friends to be impressed. I want people to change. I want ... More money. A better car. A bigger house. A happier marriage. Motivated children. The list is endless.

These desires we label and identify as the source of our hunger. So we work harder, buy a new car, get a bigger house, divorce our spouse, or pressure our kids. And guess what? We're still hungry. So we turn to the comfort of our addictions. We over-eat. We drink. We smoke. We exercise. We shop. We sign up and get busy. But still the hunger persists.

That’s because the soul is the part of us that hungers, not the heart or the stomach or the ego. And for me, this hunger can only be satisfied by Love – unconditional, never-ending, Love. Friends may come and go. Wives too, and husbands. Parents die. Children withhold their affection when they're angry.
 
But if I hold to a firm belief in a higher power, if I trust there's someone who is pure Love, someone immutable, omnipotent, omniscient, someone who always forgives me, who loves me no matter what ... Well, then I can love myself. I know then that I am lovable, that I am worthy of Love. My fears subside. And my hunger is satisfied. My thirst is quenched.
 
Prayer: Gracious God, Thank you for loving me and keeping me safe through many trials and storms. By your grace I hunger and thirst for nothing but you. Amen
 
Dale Pringle


 

Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Friday, Feb. 16, 2018

Being an Ambassador

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20 – 6:10

Focus: Being an Ambassador
 

Paul reminds the members of the church in Corinth, and all of us, that we are ambassadors of Christ. What does it mean to be an ambassador? According to the dictionary an ambassador is ‘a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign’ (Merriam-Webster).

It follows that if we are ambassadors, our home country is the kingdom of heaven and our foreign temporary place – this world. We are therefore representatives of Jesus Christ under the sovereignty of God. Tall order! God is making his appeal through us, we are his messengers, bringing the Word - the good news of salvation through Jesus.  

How can we possibly be up to this task? How to fulfill this high mandate?

Paul assures us that the time is right. We need not be in perfect health nor have a peaceful frame of mind. It is not necessary to be free of pain or hardship. If God only used perfect people, he would not have many servants! Rather the opposite, when we are walking a road of sorrow and hurt, we can empathize with those who are also hurting. We can encourage and bring the love of Christ to those in darkness because we have also known the darkness. While we ourselves suffer, we can still be encouraged by the eternal, healing light of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit; in hunger or dishonour or imprisonment, we can rejoice because in God we have everything. God is always there to help, we have received salvation through the grace and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We can be ambassadors of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Not far in the future, but any day and every day.

How then can we be ambassadors? I am reminded of the story of Dorcas that we can find in the book of Acts (9:36) and who is also depicted in one of our church’s stained glass windows. She was known for her good works and helping the poor in her community. She provides a beautiful example of being an ambassador of Christ by showing love and kindness in her actions. Paul reminds the Corinthians then, and us today that we can be Christ’s hands and feet. Now is the time for us to be his representatives. It’s always the right time.

Prayer: Gracious, sovereign Lord, be with us as we follow your call. Guide us with your Holy Spirit as we take on this task of being ambassadors of Christ. Amen

Dorothea Vickers


Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018

For Everything There is a Season

Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Focus: For Everything There is a Season


As I write this, the sun is shining brightly outside my window, melting away the fresh-fallen snow and giving hope that spring is on its way. As Canadians, we are well accustomed to the changes in weather, ecology and daylight that make up the four seasons. Sure, we grumble about the snow and ice and cold but we throw salt on our walks and carry on, certain brighter days are just around the corner.

What if we could trust God, with equal conviction, to carry us through the more challenging seasons of our lives?

The good news in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is we can. Through the poetry of fourteen contrasting sets of activities, we are reminded of the cyclical nature of life – the good, the bad, the peaks, the valleys. God’s plan for your life involves a variety of experiences and there is purpose in each one. There is a time for everything – a time for every activity under heaven.

Maybe you are at a good place in your life – everyone is healthy, you have strong relationships, you have purpose in your life, prosperity. This is a time to celebrate, rejoice, appreciate, give thanks - a time to dance (3:4). Which brings to mind a favourite passage  by Anne Morrow Lindbergh from Gift From the Sea, “One cannot dance well unless one is completely in time with the music, not leaning back to the last step or pressing forward to the next one, but poised directly on the present step as it comes … “

In the same way, we must be present to the seasons of our lives and trust God’s guiding hand throughout. Or as Facebook executive and author, Sheryl Sandberg might say, we need to “lean in.”

Why is it then that when things are going well, we sometimes fail to “dance”? Is it that we are distracted, complacent?  Perhaps we are fearful the good times will end if we enjoy them too much. Is it possible we may even feel a little guilty, celebrating our blessings when others struggle? For we know how the seasons change – and sometimes rapidly, like a freak snowstorm in April or a balmy day in November.


Maybe you are in a difficult season of your life. The message is the same: be present. In grief circles there is a saying that ‘you can’t go around it, you need to go through it’. This passage provides comfort in knowing that even the cold, desolate ‘winters’ of our lives can have value and purpose if we are living according to the way God wants us to live. They can be used for good when used for God.

As I reflect on my own life, it has not been a straight line. The illness and subsequent death of my husband, Skip, in January 2011, were indeed very dark seasons. And yet, I felt supported in faith and I came to find gifts in these experiences: The opportunity to provide love, comfort and support to the person I loved most in the world as he was leaving this world. The experience of loss and grief helped me to mature and grow. I became inspired to minister to others who have also experienced the death of someone close.

Today, as I find myself in a new season, one of peace and joy in a wonderful new marriage, my challenge is a different one. To accept this season of blessing just as it is. To be present, praise God, and neither expect permanency of any state of being nor worry about what may be around the corner. Rather to accept and trust the seasons of my life as God intends.

Prayer: Constant God, Thank you for revealing the wonders that wait to be discovered within every season. May I accept and trust that the seasons of my life are in your hands, too. Amen

Kelly Willis Green


 

Islington's Lenten Devotionals - Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018

Hearts That Love

Scripture Reading: Psalm 51

Focus: Hearts That Love
 

A year ago, when I applied to be the Lead minister at Islington United Church, I had much to pray and reflect on with the interview team. One of the questions they asked me was about how I planned and prepared for worship and sermon writing each week. I answered with words that have always been on my heart – the act of worship and prayer, the encounter with God’s story in scripture, and the connections with our own story must connect to the Seasons of our Lives.
 
It is important that we pay attention to what’s happening in the world around us - what people are celebrating, grieving, holding, caring for, remembering, and honouring. Today, many are celebrating Valentine’s Day and its connection to love; marked by special food, gifts, and romantic expectations. All day long, red hearts and reminders of relational love, children’s valentines with catchy sayings and moments of tenderness melt away the frost of winter. Every time you see a sign of love today, may it point you toward the unconditional love of God that never lets us go no matter what - the God whose love poured out for the world through Jesus, the God whose Spirit touches our hearts in every way possible.
 
Today, Ash Wednesday, also marks the beginning of Lent in the Christian Year- a time to take on a spiritual practice, a time to let go of something that gets in the way of our relationship with Jesus, a time to draw closer to the heart of God. I can’t think of a better prayer to invite us into this Lenten time together than these words of the Psalmist:

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
    and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

    and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Amen. (Psalm 51:10-19)

Reverend Maya Landall


Islington's 2018 Lenten Devotional Series

Introduction

Islington's 2018 Lenten Devotional Series

This project is dedicated to the Life, Ministry and Mission of Jesus Christ
and our shared ministry at Islington United Church.
 
Welcome Friends to the Islington United Church Lenten and Easter Devotional project. May these offerings encourage you to develop a personal relationship with our Lord.


We are about to embark on a daily journey during the 40 days of Lent, through the emotions of Holy Week and the triumph of Easter. Members of our Faith Community have offered their gifts of creativity to share devotional opportunities; they represent the diversity that is Islington United Church. Some of the submissions are responses to the scriptures that are part of the Lenten lectionary; others are commentaries on the poetry or history of classic hymns that continue to resonate over the years; still others are personal reflections of how the contributor experiences God.
 
The overall theme is Seasons of our Lives: Living in God’s Time. This year, readers will have the opportunity to experience the gift of a week of guided prayer within the 40 days of Lent. We have been given permission to post the daily pages that develop the theme of the Week of Guided Prayer**- more information can be found on our church website or at the main office. Our hope is that through these devotionals you will catch a glimpse of the wonder, beauty, and goodness of our God.
 
Thank you to all who answered the call to participate in this project. Saying ‘yes’ is an act of faith; we trust that God, “the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth” will empower us to create as well. For many of us, this was a challenging new experience. We felt humbled and a little vulnerable as we shared some personal insights as well as precious stories about our faith journeys. We thank our leadership team for their encouragement, support and participation. Most importantly, we give thanks to God “who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:15, 20 NRSV)*


May this Lenten journey draw you into deeper relationship
with the Christ who walks before, behind, beside and within you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8 NRSV) 


* A word about the scriptures – The scripture passages can be accessed by simply clicking on them. You can also visit www.biblegateway.com.  Many translations of the Bible are available; sometimes it is helpful to read from one or two different versions. Our pew Bibles are the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). A couple of others available are the New International Version (NIV) and the New Living Translation (NLT). There is also a modern paraphrased version called The Message (MSG) or The Voice (Voice)

** Week of Guided Prayer is an ecumenical initiative under the direction of the Hamilton Conference of the United Church of Canada