January 6, 2019

I’VE BEEN THINKING…

            …about beginnings and endings;  Endings & Beginnings.

  They’re inevitably connected of course – one follows the other.  When something ends, something new begins; then, over time, that becomes the new normal.     Until IT ends… and something new begins – Again.

We’re into an ending\beginning right now, aren’t we?

For me, it’s retirement.  For you, it’s a transition toward a new minister and new chapters of ministry & mission. 

What’s up in my future?   Bit of an adventure ahead- I have fuzzy plans to ‘goof-off’ until Labour Day.   That ‘goofing-off’ will probably include trips to Vancouver, and Britain, (visiting our daughters Heather Joy, and Leslie), then summer at our cottage (N. of Kingston).

Before all that, we’re working to sell our house in Burlington, and down-size to a house in Kitchener (where our son Eric, lives with his family).  

And for you at Wellington Square?  Also an ending\beginning and the leadership have made very good plans as you enter this transition year. 

 As BOARD co-chair Jeremy Cox reported last week, Sunday services are already sorted and being planned into and through the summer.   Most months there will be a guest preacher or two;   Katie will lead worship and preach regularly, and partner with our staff team to continue the ministry programs that make this such a great Jesus community.  

And last week a ‘Search Committee’ was approved, to begin talking to potential new ministers.  

How long will that take, and what will be the result?  It’ll be a bit of an adventure. 

For those who like everything to always stay the same, that will feel weird, and could make some nervous.  No need to be nervous.  Enjoy the ride – the weeks ahead of curiosity, while things are a little different; Share the adventure together. 

My sense is you all need to lean into each other.  Trust the leadership.  And trust God. 

That will allow you to move through this transition year with confidence.   One inspirational poem has always strengthened me: 

“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”   
AMEN.

Grace & Peace to you all –

ORVILLE

December 16, 2018

I’VE BEEN THINKING…

            …about the sometimes awkward, always challenging complexity of ‘Giving’ – especially during the season of Christmas.  

There are SO many needs, and good causes we can support.   Truman Capote, the writer,  said, “It’s bad enough in life to do without something YOU want; but confound it, what gets my goat is not being able to give somebody something you want THEM to have.”  Exactly.

The needs might seem overwhelming, but we need not be overwhelmed.  Rather, be strategic.  How?

First of all, make ‘Giving to others’ central to your Christmas activity.    Here at church, you’re already leaning toward Jesus, so generosity is part of the atmosphere.   It ain’t like that everywhere: “When it comes to giving, some people stop at nothing.”   Ouch. 

We’re all guilty of not being thankful or generous at one time or another. And this isn’t about judgement. It’s about remembering the joy of giving and being inspired to make this holiday season about others.

            So secondly, ‘strategic giving’ calls for making choices.   Requests and needs are everywhere.  While we lean toward saying Yes, sometimes we have to say “No, I’m sorry; bless you in your work, but I’ve committed my resources to some other projects.”   As long as that line of thinking is not over-used, and not an excuse for doing nothing, it’s okay to say No sometimes, and trust that the Lord Jesus has someone else who will support them. 

            Then thirdly, Giving during these Holy days will be rich and meaningful if it is grounded in gratitude, celebration and compassion.  Most of us have SO much, AND so many to be thankful for.   Awareness of that guides us in our giving choices… “Lest we forget those who aren’t getting presents this year, while remembering those who don’t even have someone to buy for.” 

            Here at Wellington Square, our leadership team is diligent in choosing carefully and supporting with tenacious generosity the causes and projects that will change lives.  This month we’re emphasizing the huge impact of three global projects:  The Wellington Orphanage in Sierre Leone west Africa, the Prison Fellowship ministry in Malawi (south east Africa), and the YUGO house-building in rural Mexico.  As I ask you to give to them with joyous generosity, you can be confident that your support is used very wisely and well. 

            Beyond that, the ongoing ministries and mission of this Church always seem to need a December boost.   Entering this last month of the year, our budget is running about -$28,500 behind.   So friends, Thank You in advance for your support that enables Wellington Square to continue to testify and serve in the name of the baby born in Bethlehem.  

Grace & Peace to you all,

   ORVILLE

December 9, 2018

I’ve been thinking

whether anyone needs ‘reassurance’.

It’s been suggested to me that I reaffirm and remind us all of the incredible truth and value of a friendship with the Living God.  

            Apparently somewhere there’s a minister who now says she doesn’t believe in God.  ‘She-who-must-not -be-named’, (as my minister friends call her) is getting a few headlines and her 15 minutes of fame.   Most have left her congregation –  attendance is small on a Sunday morning (according to Toronto Star columnist Rosie Dimanno).  United Church stats suggest Wellington Square is at least 5 times bigger than her congregation. 

            But she keeps her job, for the few years left until she is gone.   It’s important to note that it was not a decision of the full United Church of Canada.  It was a decision of a small committee of Toronto Conference.   The rogue minister was challenged for her ‘fitness for ministry’ (or lack thereof).  She ‘lawyer-ed up’, threatening a long expensive lawsuit for wrongful dismissal.  

            The committee decided not to waste our church’s money and time.   Why bother?

            Were they correct, or should she be ‘slam-dunked’?

ON the one hand,  It does raise questions; and cause embarrassment; and make some angry and ashamed.   On the other hand, she loves the attention, the headlines, and the spotlight- so maybe just ignore her, and keep living our faith with joy and gusto.

            I kinda go in that direction.  I’ve been influenced by the wisdom of Gamaliel, a teacher of the law in the ancient Jerusalem Council (Acts 5).   The early followers of Jesus were excitedly telling everyone about the Resurrection, and of God’s coming in the Christ.  The authorities of the day wanted them to stop, shut-up, cease & desist.  So they arrested them and dragged them into court.  But when the judges were discussing what to do, Gamaliel said this: “…keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” (Acts 5: 38 & 39)

            Exactly right.  This silly rogue minister will have her 15 minutes.  And God loves her, and wants to embrace her with grace and mercy and truth.  

            Our task is to continue our quest as disciples of Jesus, trusting in the Living God who rolls across space and time, who has come in the baby of Bethlehem, and who has redeemed humanity and begun a great restoration project, in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

  He is on the throne of history.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad. 

 Christ has come.  Christ is coming again.

            Thanks be to God.

Grace & Peace to you,  ORVILLE

November 25, 2018

I’VE BEEN THINKING…           

…about left-overs & legacies. What do we throw away, give away, leave behind, leave for others?? Nancy & I are in a transition stage of life.  Earlier this year her uncle and my Mom left us.  And we had a new grandson born in K-W 6 weeks ago (the day before my Mom’s funeral). All of that got us thinking.   We have just re-done our ‘Wills’.   We started by asking ourselves ‘What are the causes we believe in and have been supporting?    I totally believe in finding ways to, throughout our lifetime, use our resources for our family, and for the betterment of God’s world.  And I believe we can and should do that even beyond our earthly lifetime.  So we thought about 3 ‘good causes’ that we want to support.   Over our married years we have ‘adopted’ children growing up in a 3rd world country.   We have had 4 children in Haiti that we have ‘sponsored’.  So we named that Development organization in our will.  And the Cancer Society – my Dad, and all my uncles have died of Cancer.  And Wellington Square church.  I hope my will isn’t needed for another 25 years – but I know that when I go there’ll be enough for our kids and family.   AND,  those three organizations that are doing God’s work are named to receive a total of  (6 figures) from our ‘leftovers’.

I mentioned this to a younger friend, a volunteer here at the church.  He told me he & his wife have already named W. Square in their will.  I was astonished and impressed.  His kids are in elementary school.   I guess it’s never too early. So I got an idea.  I ran it by our Leadership team (Trustees, & BOARD) and was given approval to do an ‘Ask’.   Would you consider naming Wellington Square in your will?

I’ve been here 22+ years and I’m hoping that at least 22 of you would consider leaving something to the church, when you are gone.  If you can do that, would you tell our church treasurer, Karen Dobson.  Her email is on the ‘staff list’ on the back of the bulletin.  You don’t need to name any amount$.  You don’t have to tell me.  Just let Karen know.  And if we hit 22, we’ll celebrate and give thanks, for all our future gifts.  BLESS YOU.

With Love,      

ORVILLE