Jane’s Cooperator, April 3, 2019

When I was a child, we gave things up for Lent- and that didn’t mean Brussels sprouts or cabbage!    Why?  Because we thought of Jesus fasting and praying for 40 days in the wilderness- the least we could do was give up sweets!   And in a deeper sense, people in various spiritual traditions fast, or do without something or other,  to reduce their attachment to material things , to focus more on the Divine, and to be in solidarity with those who live in poverty.  

Also, Lent is traditionally a penitential season,  when we repent sin and wrongdoing.  I think this can be overdone, and for many of us, it has been – which is why we don’t do it much in our churches.     But still this is supposed to be a somewhat uncomfortable season- when Spirit drives us into uncomfortable places and challenges us to face uncomfortable truths about ourselves and our world.    

This week, some of us might have felt uncomfortable about having to pay carbon tax on gas and heating oil.  If you’re watching your pennies, it’s hard to pay this extra cost.  And around here we have to drive and we have to heat our homes.  It would be nice if someone took away this nasty tax.   But this week a new report, done by our own government scientists, offered us an inconvenient truth:  climate change is moving twice as fast in Canada as anywhere else!    And youth marching all over the world, are telling us – in the words of Greta Thunberg- we should panic- or at least worry about climate change. How will there be a world fit for them and their children to inhabit, if we don’t?    

We don’t like paying more for gas and fuel.  But that’s just the beginning.   Much more needs to change.  And it’s uncomfortable!     Oliver Burkemann, writing in the Guardian Weekly, comments that humans often tune out of information they don’t want to hear – especially information that might require us to change our behaviour.   Environmentalist [and Christian] Katherine Hayhoe  tells us that we can make changes to live on this earth sustainably.  But this is difficult.  We don’t want to do it!   

An old Christian term ”conversion“ might help.  Conversion is our English equivalent of the Greek word “metanoia” which means basically a total turn-around.  It’s not so much about what religious beliefs we hold.  It’s about transforming our way of living and being.     This transformation includes living the changes our world needs – so that our world can still sustain life, for human and other beings now, and for those who will come after ours.  

At Wesley we have successfully applied for a Faithful Footprints grant enabling us to make our building “greener”. In the application process, we were asked what steps we have already taken: such as installing heat pumps in our halls, cutting down our use of paper, using “real “ dishes and taking the time to wash them.   

Perhaps each of you are taking steps to reduce your environmental footprint.   There are many more steps to take.   I invite us to keep reflecting:   How do we individually and collectively continue “converting”, to  reduce our environmental footprint and slow the pace of climate change?    

Lenten blessings from Jane  

Jane’s Cooperator, April 11, 2019

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”
Hal Borland.

Dear Friends of Wesley and St James,

I’m glad to be back in St Andrews after an unexpected time away in Newfoundland, attending to my stepmother.   I gather Easter Sunday went very well in both places and I hope you all had a festive day with beautiful music, flowers and the wonderful Easter story.   I spent Easter Sunday sitting with my stepmother in the hospital, but I did read her parts of the same Easter service and message you had.  The hospital and adjoining care home had turkey dinner for Easter, and a kind person liberated an extra one for me.  A few days later, when she had been allowed to go home, her Anglican deacon brought us Easter communion, which we much appreciated.

My last 2 weeks will give me many months’ worth of reflection, and I won’t get started with it now.    I will say I’m very thankful for many kindnesses which helped us through.    My stepmother has generous and devoted neighbours, Harold and Whit, who go to incredible lengths for her, taking care of her pets, bringing her [and while I was there, me ] supper almost every night, and much much more.    I’m thankful for special people who will do the painstaking and not always pleasant work of personal care when needed.  I’m thankful for phone calls and messages from either my stepmother’s friends or mine, some of which overlap.  I’m thankful for kind friends who let me park my car at their house and took me in for some rest when I got back on Tuesday.  Oh, and I’m thankful that for now my stepmother is off the critical list, and has increased home support, and will soon have more family visiting.  Things could change any minute, but we take it a day at a time. 

And back here, I thank you for managing so wonderfully ‘when I had to desert you temporarily: especially thank you to those who unexpectedly found themselves leading worship on Easter Sunday, the day of all days when the minister is never away!    I was already going to be away April 28, thanks to the leadership of Barb at Wesley and Morton at Scotch Ridge.   Thanks to Jennie for keeping the Cooperator going when I had to drop the ball.  Thanks to my cat caregivers who were on the spot when I was away.  Thanks to the kind person who brought me supper my first evening back, when there was almost nothing to eat in my house! 

And finally thank you to all of you for all you do to care and share and help and follow a good path, whether or not I’m around.   And thank you for understanding: ministers would rather be there for you, but sometimes family emergencies will take us unexpectedly away from our work.

Having rearranged my life twice this calendar year to deal with such emergencies, I can’t predict what’s coming, more than any of you can.   But I hope to be in town most of the next few months.  Now that I’ve completed a long journey with the Sanctuary Renovation group, I hope to catch up with any of you who’d like to see me- coffee, visits, whatever works.  Please be in touch if you want to be sure I get to you!!

and since the season continues till June 9, Easter blessings to all. 


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