No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Janet Evans

 

Several years ago, my husband, our daughter, my father, my late mother and I attended  the annual Remembrance Day service in our nation’s capital, Ottawa.

My parents were returning to Toronto via Ottawa from Halifax where they had been involved with the celebrations pertaining to the “Year of the War Bride”.

In 1945, my father Bruce, a Canadian soldier, married my mother Kathleen, an English war bride. They would spend 63 years together as a couple until my mom passed away on December 20, 2008.

On that day in Ottawa, I was so touched by the speeches, the laying of the wreaths, the music and the turn out of veterans, their families and others who wanted to pay their respects to those who had served their nation.

My dad, unfortunately, had a weak spell and had to make a trip in the middle of the ceremonies to the bus manned by the paramedics. As we walked by the throngs of people crowding the streets, men women and children began to clap.

They were honouring an elderly gentleman, my father, who worked for justice in a world fractured by strife and pain.

They began to clap, and I was stunned. Surely this was one of the most overwhelming moments of my life.

At this time of year, we remember. We wear a poppy and hold onto hope for peace for all people. 

We remember the sacrifice of those who lost lives, limbs, liveliness or loved ones in war or peacekeeping.

We ask God to teach us to remember and mourn with hope, Christ’s hope, which lives in and for this world–until the last trumpet sounds, and our lives are measured by the compassion we have lived.

May the response we make to any who suffer from violence and war be counted as repentance in God’s reign.

Today, we remember. We remember these beautiful words from a wonderful hymn: Let there be light, let there be understanding. Let all the nations gather, let them be face to face.

May we as God’s peacemakers and peacekeepers bring light to others. May we listen to our neighbours and may they listen to us.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with each one of us. May God guide us as we ever seek justice, love, kindness and walk humbly with Him.

And on November 11th–Remember!! 

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No Picture
Opinion

Africa and Morrisburg–Perspectives

 

What is this all about?  What does Morrisburg have to do with Africa?  I asked myself that question, too, before I traveled to Durban, South Africa for the 2011 World Methodist Council and Conference in July/August. 

Representing one denomination in the whole family of Methodism, where John Wesley said, “the world is my parish,” is a bit intimidating.  Over 150 denominations worldwide claim their lineage from the roots of John Wesley’s Methodism.

By way setting the meeting and Methodism in history, the first meeting of Methodist Council and Conference took place in London, England in 1881, one year after the completion of the existing Methodist Church in Canada church on Lakeshore Drive, now Lakeshore Drive United Church.  

The subsequent councils and conferences met every 10 years at sites around the globe, and since the 1980’s have begun meeting every five years.  Committees constituted by people from various Methodist denominations report on their worldwide work in areas such as family life, global relations and evangelism.  And Methodists gather to re-affirm their identity and connect with one another. 

As any other gathering of over 2000 people, it is such a Spirit filled place to sing, dance, and worship God together!  In so many languages with such vibrancy!  

Besides Bible study and world class speakers like Archbishop Elias Chakour, all the delegates and friends could participate in mission work.  All of us were asked to bring school supplies for children so that the churches could distribute them as needed throughout South Africa.  

The Methodist Church of South Africa operates many day-care centers, orphanages, preschools and day schools for youth.  African churches are instrumental in the work to eradicate the spread of HIV/AIDs.  

We were able to participate in the daily work at every site we visited.  

I also chose to fill food bags for the program called End Hunger Now.  It is a 10-year old food aid organization which the Methodist Men in the United Methodist Church have taken on as their mission project.  

The goal for the conference was to fill 100,000 packages, and we exceeded that goal by 33,000 packages.  Even high school children from Durban helped in this effort.  

Each package contained a cup of rice, a cup of vegetable protein, two tablespoons of lentils and a package of vitamins and minerals.  Mixing six cups of water with this dry mix produced a well balanced meal for more than one child.  

End Hunger Now received permission from the Somalie group El Shabab, to deliver 25,000 packages to the starving thousands in Somalia.

Even in Africa, the church and nation know that in order for a child to learn well they need a full stomach.  For some children the meal that they get at school is the only really filling meal that they get on a daily basis.  

So remember this when you or your church is raising funds for food in Africa, especially at this critical time in the life of the drought in the Horn of Africa.

But hunger is also close to home here in Morrisburg. We have children and families where nutritious food is not always available.  

There is a lunch/breakfast program at Seaway District High School.  At our elementary schools, our children receive little bags of dry cereal or crackers and fresh fruit to supplement their diets.  

So that is why we need to connect Africa and Morrisburg.  

Africans say that it takes a whole village to raise a child.  What they know is that it takes everyone taking an interest in the welfare of our children to ensure that they grow up as healthy, educated, responsible adults.

Our various denominations know that we all celebrate the Eucharist, Holy Communion, The Lord’s Supper, in what I like to call the “meal that feeds the world.”  And as we are fed at the Lord’s Table so we are called to be disciples to also feed the world with the Word that nourishes our hearts, mind and actions, and calls us forth to put our faith into action.  

We are thankful to be able to support the Food Bank, Canadian Food Grains Bank growing projects in our community and other programs that ensure that children and adults here and in foreign countries receive healthy meals.  

We have just celebrated abundance in Thanksgiving.  We give thanks for gifts received and gifts shared.  God’s Peace.

 

Rev. Arlyce Schiebout

Lakeshore United Church

Morrisburg

 

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Norine Gullons

 

Last evening our Women’s Group at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Williamsburg hosted an evening with Nancy Horton. Nancy is a stay at home mom and mother of three boys.

What is so remarkable about this particular woman?

Nancy is a breast cancer survivor, author, and inspirational speaker. Nancy spoke with clarity and honesty about her journey with cancer and also shared her “faith” walk through life.

In speaking she opened up chapters of her life story so that others could hear and read of her struggles and where she support and encouragement to persevere in her life.

You may have heard Nancy in July on 100 Huntley Street. Her books “Hope in the Midst Darkness” and “The Big Fat Bald Head” are her way of providing a light in the darkness of cancer.

It seems these days that everyone knows someone whose had been touched by cancer. If not by cancer by another illness or grief, depression or issues within their family.

Nancy’s focus on forgiveness and self-esteem are important issues in life.

Our acceptance and love of who we are as individuals is an important step in our acceptance and love of others and of our love for our God. Nancy reminds us all again that we a NOT alone in this world!

I quote from her blog: “You have a Heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally and wants to have a relationship with you. He promises to never leave or forsake you. There will always be trouble in this world, but it’s always easier to go through life’s struggles when someone is holding your hand.

Let God be your answer.”

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No Picture
Opinion

Halloween is dress-up time

 

Halloween is just days away now and people have already begun decorating for the holiday, planning for parties, making or buying costumes and candy, and stockpiling the scariest of movies for the October 31st celebration. For those who read my editorial about how much I love Thanksgiving, well, Halloween is a very close second-runner-up for my favourite holiday.

Unfortunately, Halloween tends to get a bad rap from some, which leads me to ask, “Do you know the origin of Halloween?”

Halloween, the celebration not the name, originated from the pagan celebration of Samhain. It is a time to celebrate the end of harvest season. It is a time to take stock of the year that has passed. Sound slightly familiar? In my opinion, Samhain holds a little bit of Thanksgiving and a little bit of New Year’s Day themes. So, if this is how Halloween originated, why has it become the “day of the dead”?

Well, it is also believed that this is the one time of the year when the veil between the worlds, the dead and the living, is thinnest. It is also the day before All Hallow’s Eve, more commonly referred to now as All Saints Day on November 1st. (And in case you haven’t made the connection yet, it is believed that All Hallow’s Eve is where the term Halloween originated.)

Disregarding the history of masks and costumes being used to scare off evil spirits or demons, I believe that Halloween is another opportunity to give thanks. This time, we can thank those we love who have passed for being in our lives and for being who they were when they were here with us. It is a time to remember them.

It is also another opportunity to be thankful for what we have right now: family, friends, health and life itself.

So why do we dress up in scary costumes, collect candy or go to parties? Because it’s fun. Do you remember being a kid? Did you like dressing up? Well, we’re all still little kids inside and Halloween gives grown-ups (as well as children) permission to dress up and be silly.

So, on October 31st remember to be thankful for those you love, here in person or here in spirit, and celebrate by dressing up and having some fun. Take a page out of Mr. Dressup’s book and rifle through your Tickle Trunk for a fantastically original costume. 

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Clarence Witten

It may sound kind of dumb, but sometimes when I hear two sides to an argument I think that both sides are right. 

One person makes his/her case, and I think, “Hey, that sounds good to me.” Then the other gives his/her counter argument and I figure, “Wow. That’s true too.” 

Yet d’uh. They can’t both be right, can they, if they’re making opposite arguments? Or can they?

Where I experience this the most is in two of the political magazines I subscribe to. One is very left wing, the other writes from the perspective of the far right. Boy do they differ. 

The funniest thing is that they often cover the same topics at the same time. 

So I get my right wing paper and read a defense of the west’s involvement in a war in some far off place because of the good things that will come out of it.

Then a week or two later, I’ll get the left-leaning perspective of how the west has no business being in this war and should leave immediately. 

One magazine will blast a given government policy, the other will bless it.

At the present, both magazines are writing about the Occupy Wall Street protests that are taking place around the world. And of course they both have different takes on the issue. 

One whole-heartedly supports the protests and thinks it’s great that people are taking on corporate greed and the unfair distribution of wealth on our planet. The other magazine is of course not willing to do that. It will blame someone else or something else for poverty and the economic woes we’re facing.

So what do I learn from this?

First, if I am willing to look for it and be open to it, there is truth in both magazines. But I have learned something else. In so many of the issues that these magazines address, like who is to blame for the economic mess the world is in today, they all seem to want to blame ‘someone else.’ The right blames the government and their taxes while the left blames the corporations and financial institutions.

In this blame game I remember a famous quote by Solzhenitsyn the Russian dissident. He wrote that while he was rotting away in a Soviet prison “ it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.” 

It’s easy to blame the ‘other side’ for what’s wrong, but it’s not that simple. There’s evil in us all, including greed, and we all contribute to the brokenness of this world.

Really, I learn this lesson best from one of the Bible’s most colorful characters, John the Baptist. When different groups of people came to him to be baptized, regular folk, soldiers, and tax collectors, he pointed out that there was evil or sin in each of their hearts. How they live it out may be different for them all, but none were exempt. 

In fact, he also goes on in the chapter (Luke 3) to point out the king himself is not immune from sin. Sin or evil simply are universal. But the coolest thing we learn from John the Baptist is what to do with this sin. Turn to Jesus he tells them all. Repent of your sin, and this Jesus will cleanse you and forgive you of it. 

Great truths still for today. We may see evil in everyone else, and want to blame this group or that for what’s wrong with this planet, but one of the wisest things we can do is face up to the fact of our own contribution to the world’s problems, our own greed maybe, or wastefulness, or indifference. The fact that there is wrong with us (this thing the Bible calls sin) and to go to Christ for the solution.

When we receive Christ as our personal Saviour, as the one who died for our sin, we discover that not only does Christ forgive our sin and evil, but he also gives us power to overcome it.

And if we’re willing he will give us a spirit of love, compassion, and justice to empower us to go into our broken world to bring healing and help.

This world does have problems, but instead of just blaming others for them, in Christ, let’s become part of the solutions.

[…]

No Picture
Opinion

Sharing in South Dundas

I’ve learned a lot this week. I learned that October 16th is World Food Day. I learned that October 17th is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. I also learned that while there are many people working toward eliminating poverty and helping those in need, there are also those who are bent on spreading the false perception that everything is okay and what can be done is being done.

I’d like to point out that just because you don’t see poverty everyday, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. And, like breaking a law, we shouldn’t be able to claim ignorance for our blindness to those around us who are in need of help.

Since I started working for the Leader I’ve discovered that there really is a huge world outside my door. Like many others I hid behind that door “minding my own business” and “not getting involved.”

 While I’m definitely not encouraging anyone to become a Nosy Nellie, I do believe it is everyone’s responsibility to get involved in making life better for all members of our community.

I recently attended the Community Living Dundas County’s Ladies Night Out at Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners. During a short speech, Board Member Marja Smellink said, “I’m grateful to live in a very compassionate and generous region.”

She’s right. This is a very caring, compassionate and generous region. There are a number of people who share themselves and their time by volunteering in a number of causes. There are also a number of people who faithfully attend events and donate where possible.

What I’m asking is whether or not you belong to that group? In the last two years of living in this community I can honestly say that, until now, I did not. I’ve had to reassess my own priorities and ask myself, “What can I do to make a difference? Where can I best help out?”

I’m not suggesting that everyone run out and join every charity. I’m not suggesting that you give your last dime to charity. I’m also not suggesting that you commit yourself to things you can’t realistically do. What I am suggesting is that you ask yourself the same questions: “What can I do to make a difference? Where can I best help out?”

And, if you can, when you buy your groceries, buy something extra and toss it into the Food Bank bin for someone who needs it. 

-S.Casselman

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No Picture
Opinion

The Bible’s Relevance in 2011

On October 5, 2011, during the CNN Piers Morgan Show, Piers said to Rev. Joel Osteen, “Don’t you think you should bring the Bible kicking and screaming into the 21st century?” 

Piers question, which may actually be a statement of what he thinks, expresses an all too common perspective in today’s world and sometimes even in the Church. 

The idea seems to be that the Bible’s message is dated; that because it is an ancient document it is a necessary assumption that its message, truth claims and perspective of the world must be reinterpreted apart from the author’s meaning and in light of contemporary norms. (A discussion of the acceptance of homosexuality as normal, and not sinful as the Bible states in Romans 1:24-28, was the context within which Piers stated his question.

The folly in this perspective is made clear when we remember who the author of the Bible is and how contemporary norms are arrived at. We will consider the last first and the first last.

Norms are authoritative standards of conduct or ethical values, in some way binding upon the members of a group and serving to guide that group. Such norms are contemporary when they are arrived at by actual, fabricated or assumed consensus of a current population, and they are considered right because they are said to be what most people within that population do, or at least agree to be acceptable for someone to do. 

 It is assumed in contemporary norms that majority agreement or acceptability, confirms rightness among a given group. 

We quickly recognize that the fact that because most people participate in a given behavior, or agree that it is acceptable, does not confirm the rightness of any behavior since we can easily identify wrong behaviors that most people agree is acceptable or actually do in various groupings; which behaviors may be factually harmful like smoking, eating fast foods, exploiting slave labor, etc. 

Furthermore, if norms are to be arrived at in a contemporary fashion then we confirm them to be temporary and of questionable lasting value, since what is contemporary by definition is continually undergoing change.

As a necessary point of faith, Christians recognize God as the author of the Bible. So for all genuine Christians the Bible is a communication, the quality of which is consistent with the quality of its author. 

This means that those qualities of person necessary to the proposition of actually being God govern the quality of His authorship; qualities such aseternal self-existence, omniscience, omnipotence, absolute cogency and truthfulness, infallibility, impartiality and so on. 

Furthermore, as Creator He understands the creature perfectly, while the creature remains always in a process of self discovery through every contemporary context because he is limited by his finitude. 

Yes, the Bible should be brought into the 21st century, but not kicking and screaming because it was written for the 21st century, and every other contemporary context. 

It should be brought into the 21st century to provide transcendent norms for all societies, norms that are not subject to the frailties of the creature or his tendency toward sinfulness, but are the eternal wisdom of the glory of the Creator.

 

[…]

No Picture
Opinion

As the seasons change…

I love October. I love Thanksgiving. I love autumn. Seriously, what’s not to love?  Nature becomes a treat for all the senses with the changing colours, the cool temperatures, the smells of roast turkey and pumpkin pie… the taste and touch of comfort. 

Every October I’m reminded of a famous Bible verse, which I’m almost positive most of you have heard at one point or another. It begins: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun.”

Autumn is a time for change. It’s a time when the earth takes a much needed rest, readying herself for a full period of growth in the coming spring.

This past weekend, with the Seaway District High School graduation and the Thanksgiving holiday we found “a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” It was a time to reminisce over memories of yesterday and talk about our hopes for tomorrow.

Graduates have entered a new phase of their lives and, just in time for Thanksgiving, they were able to share their successes (and disappointments) with friends and family. Change has embraced them and they’re being challenged to step up and be their best.

As teens transition toward adulthood, residents in the SD&SG riding prepare to make a transition of their own: a political riding that has long been red has emphatically changed its colour to blue.

Conservative Jim McDonell is replacing retired Liberal MPP Jim Brownell. 

There is “a time to keep silent and a time to speak.” On October 6th, did you speak up by voting or did you stay silent? How did the choice you made on the 6th contribute to the outcome of the election?

Will our new MPP be able to meet the challenges of his new position? More to the point, will he be able to make things happen for this riding when he is a Progressive Conservative working in the shadows of a Liberal Premier? On that note, will our Liberal premier be able to work effectively with a minority government? 

With so many questions left unanswered, can we be sure of anything? Yes, we can. “To everything there is a season…”

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No Picture
Opinion

Around the Township.

Tomorrow, Thursday, October 6, we go to the polls to elect our provincial government. For some, it seems to have been an election that has garnered little interest…although some sources indicate it has been heating up in the last couple of days. Be sure to exercise your right to vote and choose the person you most feel will represent us the best. What is that term the kids use in their chats…oh yeah…lol. It stands for something like ‘laughing out loud’.

My gosh the days are getting shorter, aren’t they. Monday, the alarm went, and I was sure (completely and positively sure) something had gone wrong with the clock. In fact, with eyes still closed and curled up in the warmth of the comforter, I informed the hubby “there had to be something wrong with the clock.” It was still dark outside and there was no way it was time to get up. A quick trip to the kitchen to check the clock there finally convinced us. Why even the animals weren’t yet up and going, and for sure the cat is always ready for her breakfast as soon as the first alarm sounds. If we don’t move fast enough, she usually hits the bed and perches impatiently on a pillow above our heads until we do get going.

This weekend many of our young folks return home for Thanksgiving, (generally their first good meal since they left for school way back at the start of September) and for the graduation exercises  at ‘dear old’ Seaway High on Friday night.

That being said, it’s time to talk turkey. Roast turkey with all the fixings. Better yet, roast turkey with all the fixins and some pumpkin pie. Just a few thousand calories, but who’s counting. Following Thanksgiving, we have 74 days to work off a few pounds before the next big turkey time, with all the fixins, that takes place in late December. That’s right just 74 days until Christmas. Can you believe it?

That means we have to get going…squeeze in those last few games of golf, clear out the flower beds, put away the garden furniture, complete the fall house cleaning and re-hang the Christmas lights. And for some of us there is a lot of juggling as we are knee-deep in hockey and curling and all of our favourite winter activities.

Where does the time go. Any wonder we don’t believe the alarm clock when it sounds off to tell us it is time to get up. lol…..

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No Picture
Opinion

Stand up. Use your voice. Be heard.

The question most frequently asked to election candidates – in some form or another – is “What about me?”

Each and every person has their own story of how they’ve been affected (or more aptly, forgotten) by government and politics. Most often what I hear are people wondering why they have been overlooked by those people they helped vote into office in the first place. 

And, consequently, at election time people are often heard speculating on whether or not there’s even  a point to voting. Will it make a difference? Does this person care about me and my family? Will they work to ensure that I find a job? Will they work to ensure that I have a family doctor? Will they protect my children’s rights to a good education?

Basically, what we’re really asking is “Do I matter?” OR “Is my voice important?”

We, as members of a democratic society, elect fellow members – no better and no worse than we – who will represent us and our needs. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, it is really hard for one person to meet the needs of every single person, especially when many of those needs will inevitably clash.

However, the majority of people are the ones who aren’t heard. They’re the ones,  living in poverty, who seem invisible to government, to government officials, and oftentimes to neighbours. What about people on social assistance who want to work, but need help making that happen? What about people working minimum wage jobs who can’t afford to pay the rent or buy groceries? What about the single mom with three small children who is trying to work, take care of her children while maintaining her sanity, all on her own? 

There are so many people with so many stories from all backgrounds, culture, religions, age groups, and so on who need to be heard. Is it the responsibility of the elected representative to know what you – specifically you – need? Or is it your responsibility to come forward and ask for what you need?

Rather than sit back – complaining, moping and feeling victimized by the system – why not contact your representative, explain your situation, and ask for some help? Stand up. Use your voice. Be heard.

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