Feeding the Soul

Soul Food

Marieta Holst made the best cakes ever. At least that’s what I, as a ten-year-old, wholeheartedly believed. This great early memory of sinking my teeth into a deep, moist, vanilla sponge-type flat cake with the best vanilla or chocolate icing in the world (with those green, blue and pink icing flowers on the corners) is matched only by my memory of the bright, warm and smiling face of the baker of the cake, and her late husband, Alf. My mom, dad, brother and I used to visit Marieta and Alf Holst in their home in the town of St. Jacob’s, Ontario. Remembering those sumptuous cakes immediately, automatically, brings to mind the warmth and goodness of Alf and Marieta Holst.

One of the best things we do as a church is come together to eat good food. Food is not just “fuel” to keep us going, but has always been meant to be enjoyed, and savoured, with others. A local rabbi in Kitchener recently said to me that a multi-course Passover meal in his home can easily last for over six hours! Amen to that! There’s just something very wrong with gulping down a Big Mac while dashing between appointments. Not only unhealthy, and a strain on the digestive system, but it’s also an ugly symptom of our speed-obsessed society.

I can’t help but wonder if one of the reasons there are so many stories in the Bible of Jesus eating leisurely and unhurried with others, is because of the truly memorable and joyful occasions these mealtimes were. Whether at the wedding in Cana, or at the kitchen table in Emmaus, or eating barbequed fish over a charcoal fire on the beach, those who ate with Jesus remembered these as good, joyful, even life-transforming times. Jesus was good company.

In this season of Lent, as we wonder how and when we might experience God, as we search sometimes desperately for God’s life-giving, yet frustratingly elusive presence, let’s recall the stories of Jesus, who loved to eat with people. And the next time we find ourselves surrounded by good food and good company, maybe, just maybe, if we pause long enough, and observe, something of God may catch our attention. The warm smile of the person sitting across from us, the encouraging and affirming words of the person passing the plate of potatoes, or the understanding nod of the baker of the cake who cuts a big slice of it and offers it generously and eagerly to us, may be just what we need to know that God is closer to us then we think, and that God’s deep love for us never ends.

Rev. David Malina

Lift Your Eyes Up

“So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.” Numbers 21:9

It’s fair to say that the novelty had worn off. The promise had long ago been spoken, but the horizon kept disappearing in the sandstorm. The so-called Promised Land had taken too long in coming. And their trust in God had turned to resentment for the journey ... their faith eroding like the dunes beneath their feet. The Children of Israel had been wandering for 40 years and hostility and impatience had become their companions on this never-ending journey to where? They didn’t even really know any more.

And then as if things couldn’t get much worse ... they do. In their desert wanderings ... and in their doubt of the journey, the Children of Israel stumble into a region known for its dangerous, venomous snakes. And because God seems so distant, and removed ... and because they had been complaining that Moses and God had led them to this godforsaken place, it was easier to blame them for allowing this to happen ... to blame God for sending these snakes into their midst to bite and kill and silence the Children of Israel.

I remember visiting friends of mine in Arizona a few years ago. My friends own a home on the edge of a golf course where the constant rhythm of the hi-tech sprinkler system made green the landscape of the promised land of the 9th hole, just a short walk across a sun-baked patio. Because this was my first time in such a desert environment, my friends had some sound advice for me ... ‘look first, step second.’ You see, there are numerous critters that call this climate home and some of them are prone to bite, sting and pinch. It’s best, my friends said, ‘to look first before you take a step forward.’

I remember going for a hike with them later in the week ... we were walking single file. I was very much taking my friends’ earlier advice to heart ... intently watching the ground before taking a step. So intent was I, that my friends had to actually remind me to look up because I was missing the spectacular landscape of the rugged mountains and brilliant blue sky ... a landscape dotted with pockets of colour where the desert wildflowers were in bloom ... a landscape both intensely barren, but intensely beautiful.

When the snakes started biting, the Children of Israel were focused on the threat in front of them ... they got mired in their pain ... they couldn’t see or think of anything else. When the hardships we experience in life come biting, we sometimes tend to do the same thing. We become so focused on the problem that the pain can consume us ... we sometimes cling tight to a hardship that mole-hills become mountains to the point where our view of life is obscured and we can no longer see and know the promises of God that surround us ... if only we could lift up our eyes to trust that God is present ... to know that God has not forsaken us, and to see the new life that God promises us ... if only we could lift up our eyes and live.

Rev. Christie Morrow-Wolfe
The Lutheran Church of Our Saviour,
Owen Sound, ON.

Hear the Spirit Speak

‘…do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speaks, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.’
Matthew 10:19-20

“How can I tell Jenny about her Dad? She’s only 6! You’ve got to talk to her.” Lara’s eyes shone with tears as she whispered to me just outside the waiting room where her whole family huddled in stunned silence. Lara’s husband, Mike, barely 33 years old, was in the neurosurgery intensive care unit balanced precariously on the edge of life. No one knew what caused the sudden bleeding in his brain; no one knew for sure what would come of it, either, though we all had our fears. But for now, Mike was connected to every machine imaginable – and sweet little Jenny wanted to know when she could see her Dad, and what was wrong with him.

How was I going to do this? What on earth could I say? I know nothing about kids. Every day of my clinical pastoral education placement as a hospital chaplain had brought fresh challenges, but none quite as terrifying or heart-wrenching as this. And it’s not like I could go home, do some research, sketch out a rough draft of my speech and try a few dozen dry runs. Jenny was just ten feet away, eyes closed, escaping the quiet desperation of her older relatives by doing a little ballerina dance to the silent soundtrack in her head. I needed to take care of this right now.

Wordlessly, I nodded to Lara, and she went back into the waiting room. I stood alone in the hallway for another minute or two, head bowed, heart pounding, praying “God, please be with me, please help me!” I walked in and sat down, motioning for Jenny to join me, still absolutely clueless as to what I’d do next. She settled in, looked up at me expectantly, and it happened: my mouth opened, and I began to answer her heartfelt questions with words that seemingly came from nowhere. The words were simple and gentle and honest, words just right for that moment, words that were in no way chosen by me. The Spirit of God spoke through me to an anxious little girl in need. It was an inconceivably awe-filled moment.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus promised the disciples this ‘speaking through’ would happen for them when they were arrested and interrogated, but I can tell you from experience God does this amazing Spirit-speaking in other circumstances, too. God did it again a couple of days later, this time through 6-year-old Jenny, who spoke incredible words of comfort and hope to her family as they mourned her father’s death. If you reflect on some pivotal moments in your life – joyful or sad - I believe you’ll realize that the Spirit spoke in those moments too, through you or someone else. God’s Spirit still speaks through God’s beloved people every day – can you hear it?

Pastor Susan Climo
Peace Lutheran Church, Mississauga

"Come to Me, all Who are Weary and Carrying Heavy Burdens"

“Come to me, all who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

How often have I read this passage both for myself or for someone who is ill, tired, grieving, in despair or just downtrodden not being able to put one foot in front of the other and wanting to give up. I probably focused on the words “weary, burdens” as opposed to “rest and light”. I somehow tried to avoid the word “yoke” because it might have sounded archaic or a concept less familiar to a city girl. But I have now changed my focus because this image of the yoke has brought about some clarity in my thinking.

A yoke can only be made easy if two take it up. A team of oxen or a team of workhorses will get the job done, but if only one were to carry it, the burden of their work would be extremely difficult and might not produce the straight furrows the farmer had intended.

So how does this passage make sense in today’s context to a city girl who paints a picture in her mind of a farmer walking behind an oxen team, who are furrowing the field against the backdrop of a setting sun?

I imagine that the only way that a yoke can be made light is if I carry half the burden and relinquish the other half to Jesus. Together we pull and make headway and the furrows behind us are straight because we work as a team – something I have to remind myself of each day. I do not minister alone in any context, but I do it with the help of others who also carry their burdens with the help of Christ, who takes up carrying the other side.

It is only when I become self-absorbed with the thought that I can and must do it all by myself, that the burden is hard to bear. But if I remind myself that I have been tied together with the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ in Baptism, then how heavy can the burden really be? I do not walk through life alone, but I walk with Christ next to me, hand on my shoulder so that I can extend mine over his and extend the other arm over someone who also carries a heavy burden and needs some rest.

Jesus, be with me, walk with me for together I relinquish my weariness and in you I find rest. Amen.

Rasma Caune
Pastor at Epiphany Ev. Lutheran Church in Scarborough

Where is the Spot Today?

“All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate.” Nehemiah 8.1

Where is the spot today? Where is the place where all can gather? The ritually clean and the unclean could gather before this gate. Where can the churched and the un- and under-churched come together today?

I pray that one of the places will increasingly be within our church buildings.

When I was a new seminarian I looked forward to a congregational field placement truthfully in some measure because it gave me the opportunity to wear a clerical collar. I’ve recalled often how I one day nevertheless forgot that important collar and was greeted with outrageous laughter by an elderly woman when I apologized for my informal dress. When her laughter died down and my “righteous” anger diminished, she kindly asked if I’d forgotten she was blind. She explained then that she could see what was in my heart and that was all that mattered to her.

That lesson I’ve held onto for myself and for others. It is not easy though. Our congregations are full of wonderful, loving and would-be faithful folks. We want, as we do from our parents, to be loved by God. As with our parents, it is hard not to prefer being loved more than our sister or brother. Any visible or verbal sign that we are better seems so much the better.

God calls us to gather where all are welcome because all are loved. There is a room for each one of us, but it is the same room. When I think of those I love in and out of the church, it is only my self interest in wanting their attention all for myself that keeps me from holding open the door more often.

When I think about it more objectively, I discover that God’s plan is actually better than mine. It gives me more, not less as I tend to fear. It gives everyone more.

The “all are welcome” sign is in the heart of every Christ follower. If we say, “Come and see” and mean it, they will. We will celebrate and share. Listen attentively to God’s word and to each other as we seek its interpretation. We’ll gather in our churches, but not only in our churches for holy is as holy does.

Ed Bastian

“Comfort, O Comfort my people, says your God”

From the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan & the Holy Land

A Christmas Message 2012

“Comfort, O Comfort my people, says your God”.
(Isaiah 40: 1)

As I sit down to write my Christmas message during this Advent season, there are no words that touch me more deeply than these words from Isaiah chapter 40, “Comfort, O Comfort my people, says your God.” During this time I have been moved by the emotions associated with the beginning of life and the end of life, of birth and death. And I am very much aware that life begins and ends with a need for comfort. And in between, there is enough pain and suffering to go around, for people to cry out, “We are all like grass that withers, and flowers that fade.”

We have once again experienced warfare and death with the eight-day war in southern Israel and Gaza. Though a ceasefire has now been announced, we still feel the burden of a war in which there are no winners, in which people on both sides suffer from physical and emotional wounds and are in need of comforting, a war in which the survivors themselves feel the pain of loss and need to be comforted. Even though we are at a distance in Jerusalem, we have all been shaken by the images of families running to bomb shelters afraid, images of the dead and wounded, images of the rubble. We are moved so much by such tragedy, that it would seem that the words of the Book of Lamentations prevail where there is “no one to comfort her” (Lamentations 1:9, 17, 21).

The reality that our people are facing is that “All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field” (Isaiah 40:6), and we shed our tears at the human condition. How can we feel optimistic in a world of such suffering? Anyone in their right mind would offer only a pessimistic prognosis and throw up their hands in a feeling of helplessness. Anyone in their right mind would question whether those scarred by the fresh wounds of war would relate to this word of comfort. Anyone in their right mind would ask if mere words will keep the refugees warm in the face of the cold winter rains. Yet we are reminded that this is not the only reality. “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever” (verse 8).

“Comfort, comfort you my people. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem that her warfare has ended, that she has received pardon.”

We need that word of comfort, offered by the prophet Second-Isaiah. We need to hear the assurance that our sins are pardoned, that there will be no more suffering, no more war, no more bloodshed. The word of comfort consoles us: Rahamu, Rahamu Ammi (Comfort, Comfort my people.) The promise that we are indeed God’s people and that God is in control. That God offers a word of mercy and grace. That this indeed is a word of comfort, and not merely an illusion.

“Speak to her that her warfare is ended,” says the prophet. Yet is this reality? How can this be reality when the politicians announced merely a ceasefire, and not an authentic end to violence, to bombing, to killing? How can this be a reality when all the analysts conclude that the only winners in the recent fighting have been the wielders of weapons and the belief that negotiations and diplomacy are no match for weapons when it comes to solving conflict? How can this be when both sides are busy once again building up their weapons arsenals? How can this be reality—this announcement that her warfare is ended—when there are threats that the killing will resume? We, in this country, are not in need of weapons, missiles, and Patriots. We are in need of justice and security. The real comfort will come into being when swords are turned into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks. “Comfort, Comfort my people,” we long to hear these words, yet how will our people listen, when the facts on the ground seem to speak of another reality?

The Middle East and the whole world was excited when on November 29 Palestine was accepted as a non-member state of the United Nations. This is a step in the right direction to keep the zeal for the two-state solution alive, and we hope that other constructive steps may be taken that security and justice would finally exist for Palestinians and Israelis.
We are now beginning the third year of the Arab Awakening, a movement which began as a quest for freedom, for human dignity, for the recognition of human rights including women’s rights. Many of us watched with interest as the awakening spread from one country to the next. Many cried out a word of encouragement, and also a word of comfort, concerned how these developments might proceed. Like the birth of a newborn child, it would seem such a movement would need the loving tender care, as it faced the challenges of this world and as it grew, like a child beginning to crawl and then to walk. In some places, the awakening saw signs of encouragement and progress. In others, it would seem that the movement has been hijacked by forces of the old order, of oppression and violence, of restrictions on human liberty and of a growth of extremism and intolerance. Once again Egypt is struggling to find its way, repeating some of the events of Tahrir Square from two years ago. “Comfort, comfort you, my people,” the prophet wants to shout.

And in Syria, the death toll has now reached over fifty thousand, and fear rules the day with escalating violence, and rumors of possible imminent use of chemical weapons. Like the exiles in Babylon addressed by Second Isaiah, now over a million persons are homeless, many seeking shelter in refugee camps like the one at Za’atri inside the border of Jordan. During my late September visit to the camp, along with the General Secretary of LWF, the Rev. Martin Junge, when seeing families with over half of the residents under the age of 18 years, when considering their loss and their struggle to survive, and when becoming aware of their vulnerability with the approaching cold winter rains, words failed me, except to say with Second Isaiah, “Comfort, Comfort, my people,” says our God.
As I sit in Jerusalem this Christmas season, I hear the drums of war sounding so much louder than the trumpets of peace.

I fear that people today are placing more faith in violence and weapons to solve the conflicts of the Middle East than peaceful, non-violent means.

I fear that hatred is proliferating and the urge for revenge and counter-revenge have made their way deep into the hearts of so many people.

I fear that extremist ideas are spreading as if they were a virtue.

I fear that the leaders of the world no longer hold the vision, the courage, and the resolve to seek solutions that will endure.

I ask myself, do these words of comfort continue to make sense in our world today? Do people see that the route that is taken—that the whole Middle East is taking us—is one of peril?

I am once again reminded of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s warning, “If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.”

As a Church in the Middle East we say, That is not our way! Wake up, politicians! Wake up, leaders of the world! Listen again to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Our reliance on weapons and violence will only lead to more hatred and more tragedy. World leaders must assume responsibility to a non-violent preferential option. Now is still the time to find peaceful, non-violent solutions before it is too late. This is the reason that Jesus was incarnated in Bethlehem to bring true peace.

Our ELCJHL continues to commit itself to work for peace based on justice, and reconciliation based on forgiveness. Our ELCJHL continues to educate its youth in peace education and conflict resolution. Our ELCJHL continues to preach a word of hope. Even if we swim against those terrible waves, we announce to the world that our way will always be one of non-violence, that our way will always promote moderation, that our way will always teach respect for the other, that our way will always seek to see the image of the Babe in Manger in the other, that our ways will continue to raise up generations that seek peace.

Peace between Palestinians and Israelis is still possible and justice is still possible. History remembers those who work for peace, not those who merely talk about peace. Courageous and bold steps must be taken for the sake of humanity. This is the reason Jesus taught us, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

The season of Christmas takes us to Bethlehem where the word become flesh, where God bridges the gap between the two realities, offering hope in the place of optimism, offering the fulfilment of God’s promises, especially when we are let down by the world’s disappointing failures. We are drawn to the manger and the child sent by God to bring comfort to a world of suffering and pain, a world of tragedies and disasters, a world of loneliness and sorrow. And in the words of Jesus, grown to adulthood and on the eve of his own death, “I will pray to the father and he will send another Comforter. . . the Spirit of Truth.” (John 14:16-17) This spirit continues to work in messengers of comfort within our world today. This spirit continues to motivate us, the Arab Christians of the Middle East, to strive tirelessly on the path for peace. “Comfort, O comfort my people,” says our God.
Because of Christmas, the incarnation of the eternal Word of God, I am neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but I have hope. I have hope because Jesus was born in our broken world, in the midst of turmoil, similar to what we experience even though Jesus found a place to incarnate. Jürgen Moltmann, the theologian of hope, reminds us of the essence of hope: "I tried to present the Christian hope no longer as such an 'opium of the beyond' but rather as the divine power that makes us alive in this world." This is none other than the Comforter described by Second Isaiah.

That Comforter makes our words of comfort come alive, as we act in our world to prepare the way of the Lord.

We prepare the way of the Lord when we bind up the wounds of the injured and hold the hand of those grieving.

We prepare the way of the Lord when we condemn all acts of violence and oppose every kind of extremism.

We prepare the way of the Lord when we provide shelter for the homeless and winter boots for refugee children.

We prepare the way of the Lord when we work for justice with one standard for the whole world.

We prepare the way of the Lord when we call on politicians to repent of their policies of self- interest and ask them to pursue the ways of peace.

We prepare the way of the Lord when we make education the highest priority that our children may learn respect for the other.

We prepare the way of the Lord when we uphold the human rights of all and defend the freedoms of speech, expression, and religion.

We prepare the way of the Lord when we give others a reason to hope.
And when we prepare the way of the Lord, we offer those words of consolation from Isaiah 40, “Comfort, comfort my people.”

We prepare the way of the Lord who becomes our Immanuel, God with us, so that we pray the prayer of St. Patrick:

Christ be with me,

Christ within me,

Christ behind me,

Christ before me,

Christ beside me,

Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort
And restore me.

May this word of comfort speak to your hearts as you prepare the way of the Lord.
Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year in 2013
وكل عام وأنتم وعائلاتكم بألف خير

Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan
The Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

Copyright © 2012 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, All rights reserved. Permission to be posted on easternsynod.org has been granted by Bishop Younan.

We Need Christmas

We need Christmas.

No, I’m not talking about needing the bright lights and the decorations. Sure they are nice, but we could get by without them if we had to.

And, much as we enjoy giving and receiving gifts, we don’t really need them either. Most of us already have more than enough. We can survive without another pair of socks or earrings.

That goes for food too. We are fortunate because most of the members of our congregation have plenty to eat throughout the year. We don’t need Christmas to catch up on the food we’ve lacked other times.

And, if we are honest, we have to admit that we don’t need Christmas as a time to spend with family and friends. Sure, this family time is an important part of many Christmas celebrations, but there are other happy occasions during the year that serve as reasons for families coming together - wed-dings, birthdays, summer holidays, baptisms, and anniversaries, just to name a few.


We need Christmas because we need the gift of the Christ Child. We need the saving power of God that brings forgiveness, peace, and hope. We need to know that our Creator cares about our anxious lives and this storm tossed world. We need to know that God keeps promises. We need to know we matter.

This is why we need Christmas. Christmas provides us with the one thing that makes a lasting difference in our lives. Christmas answers our needs like nothing else can because in Christmas God gives us the one thing no one else can - God gives us himself.

Pastor Lowell Nussey

Reading the Bible

Some years ago, we bought a new washing machine. It looked easy to install, so I connected the hoses and hooked up the power cord and thought it was ready for use. My wife loaded it, and pressed the start button. The machine started fine and everything seemed all right. But then, strange sounds started to come out of it. I stopped the machine and began to wonder what was wrong. Finally it occurred to me to look in the manual that came with the machine. It didn’t take long to discover what was wrong. On the front page there was a picture and a text that said: Before starting, remove these two bolts. Of course, after I did it, the machine worked fine.

I may not be the only one who has the tendency to try things first and then “if all else fails, read the manual”. I know, this is not how it should be, but for some reason, many times it just happens that way.

“Read” is one of the key words in Bishop Susan’s call to Spiritual Renewal. It reminds us of the importance of reading the Bible, “the Manual of Life” on our journey, not only when all else fails, but regularly, for our soul’s daily nourishment.

I learned this from an old friend, who towards the end of his journey, was suffering from dementia. It got so bad that he didn’t even know his daughters. Despite all this, one thing remained crystal clear in his mind: when someone asked about his faith he always answered, “Since the Bible says, ‘ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you’, I have thought that as I approach God just as I am he will accept me through Christ”. As I visited him, I couldn’t but wonder about his answer, which to me resulted from the fact that throughout his life he had been an active and regular Bible reader and had learned to know it well. His solid and simple faith taught me that by reading the Bible regularly, one can build a capital that one day may prove to be very important.

Oh, I know it, too, how much easier it is to grab the newspaper or turn on the TV than to open the Bible. It always takes some effort to strive in this matter, but as my friend’s example shows, it pays dividends. Sometimes we may regret things have done or left undone, but I’m sure we will never regret the time we spend reading the Bible.

Rev. Jouko Jyrkama

Opening the Door to a Fountain Bringing Healing, Wholeness and More (ELW453)

It is a Sunday morning and roughly 50 people have gathered at ‘First’ in Toronto for a bilingual worship service that brings together the English and the German speaking people of this congregation. Today we will – for the first time – include a prayer for healing in the service.
“We’re doing what? Are we now one of those over-evangelical churches where people fall on their backs when the pastor prays for them? This doesn’t feel like my church anymore.” This was some of the reaction when I first announced that we will start to include a prayer for healing in our worship services every other month.  All my thoughts on this particular Sunday evolved around the questions: How will people react during this first prayer for healing? Will at least some come to the altar? Will people react to their need for prayer and healing? Will they be able to forget about all the things they see on TV?

And despite the critical voices beforehand, people came ... actually most of the congregants in attendance came to receive a prayer, a blessing and to be anointed.

It was a deeply moving experience for those who came as well as for me, looking into the wet eyes of people I know well. People came to the altar who were sick, others going through a time of deep depression, grieving parents as well as stressed out business people ... all to be touched by God, to be freed from the burdens of their life, to find healing of their brokenness, to find new hope in their fight against cancer, to be strengthened in their daily care for a sick relative, to find acceptance of a terminal illness.  It was not about miracles, not about throwing away crutches or jumping out of a wheel chair (although we had our laughs, imagining one of us acting this out), but it was about the assurance that God cares for all of us in our needs.

By now people ask when we will have the next ‘healing service’. And the critics? Some still haven’t come to receive a blessing, but I still hope they will be able to overcome their reservations and open up to receive all the blessings God has prepared for them.
After all, we believe in the power of prayer, right?  “The prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” James 5:15

The only thing I have to remember next time - we need tissues in the pews.

Rev. Christian Schweter
First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toronto

Jesus Is Our Model

“My church will be full of colour and joy and happiness and hope.”  So wrote one of our confirmands.  Another described his church as “inviting” and yet another as “made with care, compassion, kindness, love, peace, hope and faith.”  These youthful visions of the church greeted me after a long drive during which I saw a present church sign, offering this:  “Jesus is our model.”

I wondered on the drive what our church would be like if Jesus was our model.  Would it be the church we have?  Or, would it be more like the church our youth envision, that is, one identified by its character rather than bricks, wood and stained glass windows?

If Jesus is our model, our church is much closer to our youth’s vision and some distance from our present reality.  What matters is much more what makes our hearts rejoice! Love is the designer of the Church for which Jesus is the mold.

Many today are afraid of losing their churches.  Where our treasure is, scripture tells us, there will our heart be also.  Church buildings come and go.  They testify to nothing that is eternal.  The experience of love, which Jesus brings to us and expresses in us, is eternal.  It is known whenever our community is full of colour, joy, happiness and hope.  It is what calls us back and invites new folks to join with us.  It is relationships cemented by care, compassion, kindness, love, peace, hope and faith.  It is what we can have, if we will have Jesus!

[Jesus says,] “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Elina Salonen and the confirmands of Faith, Fergus-Elora, Ontario