Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Church #54 Grace Lutheran Church.

So I missed the train. Again. Fun Fun.

But I did eventually get there. And I happen to approach the back side of the church, as I was walking up to it.

I really enjoyed the decorations. It all felt very festive.

Everyone was singing when I walked in. So I sat in the back and proceeded to find my place. I noticed that some one was chiming a hand bell to try to keep the church singing in time. It worked.... sort of .

As for the population, it was your standard 40-50 people, mostly causation and mostly in the 55-70 year old range. Or at-least at this service, there was another one earlier in the day but, I have no idea what the demographics of that one was like. And, yes sometimes the population that attends a 9 am service can be completely different from the ones that attends an 11 am service.

In-fact today was all about the bells. They had all the Children come up to the front of the Church for the kids message. They received an intro to what a hand bell is. And got a little history  on the use of church bells, and how they were used let people know what day was Sunday, and when it was time to come to Church. They gave the kids some jingle bells to rattle. And after that brief moment of satisfaction, the children all returned to their seats.

Today was the 2nd Sunday of Advent.

The church leader started off with telling us a story of the far north. And how the remote some parts of our territories are. And the deep, deep, silence that comes with it. We were told that the smallest noise would carry unbelievable distances, uninterrupted. On a regular basis, a mail plane would arrive in the town, and that plane would be heard a long time before it could actually been seen by the naked eye. He told us that, that is what he envisions when he thinks of the message of the profits and the coming of Christ. As something that can be heard well before it arrives.

I took a moment to notice one of the glass panels, and I found it very interesting. Did you know that some of the disciples have animal associated with them?
I knew that John had the Eagle...... But the rest came as a surprise!

I  am very happy to say that  today's sermon was in favor of teens. There is only one other service I can remember at this point, that had a message that supported the needs and concerns of adolescence.

The church leader explained how he worked with a group of teens and often participates in trips and activities involved with this group. As we all know most teens are deeply into  music  and some live and breath it. He mentioned that a lot of people out there (especially older people) feel there is no good music being produced now a days. This is not something new, and there is actually evidence that us as people actually do quit developing a interest in new music after a certain age. Check out the Link!

You stop listening to new music at age 33, earlier for parents, study finds

There was a brief mention of "ear worms"
 aka. Songs that you get stuck in your head for no apparent reason.

He church leader mentioned his was the "imperial march." From Star Wars.

You are welcome.

What I really love is how he came to the realization that, these young people, are listening to these songs because the message in them. This message is something that resonates with them. And when he stopped listening with "critical ears" he realized that this music is indeed "real", and provided a lot of insight into the minds and hearts of these young people. Young people that he has made a commitment to help and support.
At this realization I  am sure he felt some degree of distress. He proclaimed;
"Do I have my head so far in the clouds?!!!" 

Sad to say, I feel that most of the seniors that he were trying to explain the message to didn't really take it seriously, and laughed him off. This I think is a great shame.

Being some one who is smack in the middle of the of the Millennial generation. (people born between roughly the early 1980's to early 2000's.) I feel the weight of this "generational conflict." And all of the frustration and disconnect that comes from it. It is not fun. It truly is not.

But I do feel the flaring anger and disconnect is not helping anything. It really doesn't. Has it ever?

But I do have hope that there can be better communication and even co-operation between generations to help make everyone lives better.

I think the film "The Intern." touches on this idea.


"If you don't hear anything good on the radio, are you actually listening? " 

Near the end of the service the church leaders youngest son comes running up to him (2 years old)?  . So he picks him up and holds him in one arm while finishing the service. I am not sure if  that is an unusual sight for some. But I grew up knowing a priest who had a a very attached little boy, whom he would have to hold for half the service some days.

After the service was over I had some time to talk to the church leader, he was even kind enough to let me take his picture and show off his robes.Which were home-made just for him, as a gift from his sister.

ps. The lettering you see in Hebrew is Gods name. 

So this is your look inside.....

Not a bad church over all. I went down stairs afterwords for some cookies and tea. And had some opportunists for some friendly conversation. And then I was on my way.

 *crunch, crunch, crunch, ICE......! crunch, crunch, crunch........

Farm The Land grow the Spirit 2016.

Attention all devout Muslims, Christians and Jewish people between the ages of  19-29! The Stony Point, Farm The Land grow the Spirit Program is now taking applications for it's 2016 semester! So since I participated in this program last year, I will obviously not be going this year. But regardless it is an amazing opportunity. If you are comfortable in an interfaith environment and willing to learn and get a little dirty this summer, this is the place for you! Fallow the link for more info!

Farm the Land, Grow the Spirit: A Multifaith Peace, Justice and Earthcare Program for Young Adults

- Write a very solid in-depth multi page essay, and most of all, just be genuine.
- Apply eraly!
-If you don't apply, you will never know the answer to Murder Mystery Night!

I never trusted that piano player!....... ;)

Friday, December 4, 2015

In the news!

This was actually done a while ago, one day after my CBC interview. I didn't realize it was still online! 

Church #53. River City Church

I actually found this church from their online presence, when I was not specifically looking for a church to visit. Very impressive, and just short of unbelievable considering how far behind many churches are with having any type of clear online communication.

As most of you know, I use public transportation to get to all of my churches, (plus occasional car-pooling), and this church is within easy access of the LRT line.

So when I came in, I was greeted immediately. Everyone was very friendly and interested in what I had to say and what I was doing there. I met the leadership, and I was quickly whisked around the building and given a comprehensive tour. And of coarse the first room I was shown was the nursery/mothers area. It was a room sectioned off all by itself, with a bunch of kids playing with lots of toys, and even further back was a separate changing/nursing room. I noticed the TV in the children's area and I was told that the sermon was broadcasted into the children's area for any parents that may need to stay there during the service, which I thought was a smart idea.

But if any of you know me, you know that this was a less-than-comfortable experience for me (touring of the children's area and "meeting the kids" that is....).

That's like a person with a fear of spiders, walking into a museum, meeting the friendly and enthusiastic curator that tells you she is honoured to have you there, and then immediately saying "You really must see our new exhibit on tarantulas! It's one of our crowning gems!", and then being taken by the hand and ushered into the exhibit, while trying not to lose your composure. 
Needless to say, I survived it. It was very uncomfortable.
I don't blame her in any way, there is no way she would have known.

I feel that this church has really tried it's best to be accommodating. Besides the children's/mothers area, they had barrier-free washrooms, a side kitchen, caffeine bar, among other things.

Random side note:
A large donation of 100 lbs of potatoes were donated to the church, and everyone got a load of free potatoes at the end of the service. Mine are currently in my fridge (soon to be french fries ;).

The main room where the service was being held kind of threw me back. It was pretty low-lit and fully set up to accommodate the band. (P.S. the whole "Fire Fall" this was from a conference they had, and they had just not taken it down yet).

As for the demographics of this place, there was roughly three dozen people, in their 20's-30's and a few people beyond that. 50/50 gender ratio. Despite being mostly caucasian, there were some First Nations people and African-Canadians at the service.

As you can imagine the worship started with the band kicking into high gear. People in this church express themselves in a variety of manners; some people people put their hand to the sky in praise, some sit quietly with their head bowed, others go to the front and start jumping and dancing in front of the band, and some feel it right to fall to their knees and bow their head to the ground. All of the above are considered acceptable here.

I asked afterwords that if there are cases of speaking in tongues that occur here. The church leader told me that it happens on occasion. One thing I am really hoping for while doing this project is to actually witness a person break out into tongue-speak, but it is rare. Hopefully I will be so lucky as to see it in one of the next 47 churches.

One of the songs in the worship was At Your Name, which is one of my faves. Partly because it gives you an excuse to jump around.

I find this all so interesting because when I was in NYC, part of my studies centered around the idea of "what is God's name"? This was part of the teaching we received from our Jewish faith leaders. They referred to the part of the bible where Moses encounters the burning bush and he is instructed to go to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to free the Israelite's. (back in those days everyone declared things in the name of their god). So Moses asked Gods name. He got two answers: the first was the well known "I am what I am". That is short for "I am not telling you", which is something pretty bold. Considering that it used to be believed that God(s) could be literately "invoked and controlled"  if you called their name, Moses learned quick that this wasn't gonna work with this one. But he got a second name too: YHWH. But you can't pronounce it, and yet you say it constantly every day of your life. Follow the link for the rest of the explanation.

Breathing the name of God. 

One of Rabiis teaching my group said that he suspects that when Moses approached Pharaoh and asked in whose name do you declare this?, Moses likely let out a long, loud and clear breath. Just image that going down for a second. I am not sure about you, but if I was Pharaoh, I would have been deeply intimidated, when the very force of life itself has told you to step-off.

I also found the violinist in the band a refreshing touch. However, this is not the first violinist I have seen preforming with a worship team.

One of the church members came up to give some of his personal stories and reflections. This was mainly based around his father death and his choice "to get right" with his remaining family members. He told us how he and his family had come from a Catholic background and then came to find God and love Christ in a new way. He said a lot, but there were two things he said that I found very profound:

#1. "People lie al lot at funerals. And I really don't like them."
So luckily, I have not attended many funerals yet at this point in my life, but that was kind of a shocker for me. He said that people will say a lot of things, but they didn't really go visit that person very much, nor were they close with them. etc. I think the point of this is that we need to reflect ourselves and how we keep our relationships with those we care about.

#2. "....He was Catholic but had not come to Christ yet."   


Finally some one acknowledged this!!! I once had a friend say that there is a difference between being religious and being spiritual. And there are many people in this world which are spiritual but not religious. But I think the less talked about are the religious but not spiritual. People that are literately so wrapped up in the procedure and practices of their religion, that they forget what is really the most important point. Having a relationship with God. and actually coming to embrace the salvation Christ brought us! And building the bridge with your heart and soul, that brings you closer to the almighty!  Kind of ironic eh?

Today's service was very "quotable". Here are a few Gems for you:

"The grace of God does not over-look sin, it gives you the power to overcome it." 

"The refugees are coming and I am not panicking! Our job is to LOVE people into the kingdom!"

"We can't be Christians that are like ostriches with our head's in the sand!" 

"What is the end game? The end game is to fill heaven, and plunder hell!"

"God will honour you, but he expects you to honour him back!" 

"God does not hold your past life ransom! Forcing someone to pay for their sins is witchcraft!"

And of course with talking about the world falling apart and refugees, we ended on the topic of the prime minister. We were told to pray for him and all of our leadership, as the bible taught us that we should. That didn't surprise me.
But what did was the fact that he is a professing Christian, and he took an Alpha course! 

Here is the link to the artificial on him doing the course and his faith:
Justin Trudeau's Christian Faith

And here is a link to the official web-sight for the Alpha course:
Alpha Course

"we need to stay vigilant and informed so we know how to pray." 

"I am not a Liberal, but pray for him!" 

One of the big topics that was talked about today was the end of the world. Which was kind of uncomfortable for me. "I don't want to be an sensationalist" he remarked. He pointed out that a lot of the thing happening in the world are symptoms of the "end time" He also acknowledged that the idea that the end time will be "soon" is something that people have been throwing out there for forever. He brought up 1 Thessalonians 5:2

"For you know quite well that the day of the Lord's return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night."  NLT.

Therefore we must remain vigilant and ready at all times. He reminded the room that the Bible says that in these time we should not panic. And that our focus should be to step up and love people into Gods kingdom.

He also gave his thoughts on the famous "Weeping and gnashing of teeth" line. In his mind, the rejection of God, and living without God, is a hell-filled life.

I think it is well put.

After all this they took the time to have people come up to the room that needed praying for so they could lay hands on them. What surprised me was that after they were finished praying for them, they started gently falling them to the ground and allowing them to just lay there for however long they needed. They also had a pile of personal sized blankets ready to cover each of them with. One of the young men that was prayed for and laid to the ground, had a noticeable medical disorder to do with his spine. He said that after he got up that something surprising happened when he fell. He said when he was under the blanket that "I did get warm, I got hot!". He explained that his back is almost always in pain or stiff when he walks, but now he feels fine!

"I didn't ask for healing, but my back is no longer stiff!"

On a final note I would like to just say how comparably guy-friendly this church is. I really think they have done a good job making this environment comfortable and inclusive for men, without going  to the extent of alienating the women (I have actually seen that before.)

And pulling that off is hard.

Bravo to you River City!