No Picture
Opinion

Everyday is a new day with no mistakes in it

 

“Every day is a new day,” wrote Lucy Maud Montgomery in  Anne of Green Gables. Well, with this edition, it’s a new month and a new year. Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Have you sat down and taken stock of what you did last year and then planned for what you want to achieve this year?

Well, according to genius Albert Einstein, “if you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” In other words, money won’t buy you happiness. Goals that revolve around “getting” someone or something are rarely satisfying and, most often, a waste of valuable time. In contrast, the best goals to set are those that will make a positive difference in your life or in the lives of those around you. 

I do this every year. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. Some things get checked off my list and some things don’t. Either way, I still like to feel like I have a purpose or direction to follow during the coming days – (as opposed to flailing around aimlessly until that fateful hour when my heart stops ticking).

In goal setting, it’s important to remember some famous advice: Winston Churchill once said, “success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” So, if at first you don’t succeed, then try again… and again… and again… and again… (Get the idea?)

Another piece of advice that I found helpful when “taking stock” is from Kofi Annan: “To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.”

Life doesn’t happen by mistake. Life happens because of choices we make or choices others make. Things, for the most part, don’t happen “to” us. We make choices every moment of every day, whether we acknowledge that fact, or not. 

Something I tell myself and something I tell my children often: “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Think first. Ask yourself, who do I want to be? How will this choice affect me and the people around me? Choose wisely and remember, if you get it wrong, tomorrow is a “new day with no mistakes in it”, so try again.    

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Arlyce Schiebout

 

Do you see what I see?

Christmas has passed and life is back to normal, right?  

There is the story of a little boy who had watched with great interest how the creche/nativity scene was set up outside his church.  A few days after Christmas the scene had been dismantled and all that remained was the outline of the scene on the ground covered with snow.

He asked his mother what had happened, why the scene and baby Jesus had disappeared.  The little boy’s mother tried her best to give an explanation—that Christmas was over and the heavy snow of January would envelope the scene.  

The little boy, as most little children, knew that it was not such a good explanation.  But then his mother added, the love and joy of Jesus was not just in the nativity scene but should be lived out in his life and the lives of others who believed that Jesus came to show us God’s love and how to live in the Way. 

The little boy liked that answer and now had something that he could remember every day of the year, not just on Christmas.

The outline of God’s love is with us all the time.  God is as close to us as the breath that we breath.  Regardless of where we find ourselves on life’s journey, God is always near.  

For those characters in Luke’s gospel story of Jesus’ birth, God was near. For the wise ones in Matthew’s story, God was near. 

The outline of God-with-us, Emmanuel, is a great comfort to us when we are in the midst of burdens which seem to have no resolution. God-with-us, Emmanuel, is a source of energy and new life when we forgive as we have been forgiven by God for those many times when we forget that God is the voice we should listen to.  

God-with-us, Emmanuel, Jesus, reminds us daily that we are to be the hands and feet of Christ in a world that yearns for hope, healing, justice.  

God-with-us reminds us that our faith is lived out in the world around us, not just inside us or within a particular denomination or faith community.  

God-with-us, Emmanuel, reminds us that even after long hard work for the kingdom of God, we are not discouraged but encouraged.

Do you see what I see?  I see the Christ-light shining brightly in our world.  This light shines even in the darkest of corners.  And I see many people who live that light in our communities.  Let your light shine, and share it liberally!  

Blessings and Peace for 2012 and the season of Epiphany.

Rev. Arlyce Schiebout

 

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Norine Gullons

 

I was visiting a senior member of my parish this week. She told me that she has felt blessed her whole life. I asked her why she felt that way. 

She replied that no matter what was going on in her family, either good news or bad news, that they stuck tight together through that time. A good  philosophy for any type of family.

Our compassion for people in the world around us is an important human value. 

Perhaps Christmas time provokes us to do this more than any other time of the year. We reach out to others to offer them hope.

We remember those who have experienced a loss in their family over the past year. We visit the lonely, and the ill and we help out those who need food, shelter and clothing. We may donate our time, money and talents to an agency that needs support to help others.  

Our “good will” extends out from us as we reach into ourselves to be more compassionate toward others.

Perhaps it is because we acknowledge that we have been deeply blessed in our own lives.

Although we as Christians no longer wait for Jesus Christ in the physical form of an infant, He is still the source of our hope. 

As Christians we can look forward to the future because the baby in the manger was and still is, the promise of good will and hope and peace on earth. 

May God bless you and yours this Christmas season and may Hope and Joy lead you into 2012.

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Clarence Witten

 

Ah, it’s Christmas. So much fun. We put up lights and decorations. There are all these concerts and parties to attend. There’s time off from school and work to enjoy family and friends. 

We remember this pudgy happy fellow from the North Pole who puts presents under our trees, iPhones, laptops, video games, jewelry and clothes. And we eat and eat and eat, turkey, chocolate, shortbread and all kinds of other special treats. 

All of us have our different Christmas traditions and different reasons why we (hopefully) enjoy Christmas.

But soon enough it’s all over. It was a good time. We enjoy the presents we got, though after a while they lose their shine. We had a good time with our family and friends, but all too soon they go back home. 

Finally we take down the lights and fancy decorations, and store them away for another year. Life goes on. 

Not much is different really, except that our Visa bill is higher than usual and we’ve put on a few pounds.

No, I don’t mean to be the Grinch who wants to steal Christmas. Not at all. I think all of this Christmas celebrating is great. 

But I also think if we’re to get the most out of Christmas, we ought to pay attention to the ‘other’ Christmas story. The one about the baby born in Bethlehem who came as God’s Son to be Saviour and King. It was all the way from heaven that he came. 

Not just to give us a few trinkets and toys, but to give presents like God’s love and forgiveness, new life, and eternal life in heaven. 

Costly presents these; they cost him his own life on the cross. And lasting presents they are as well. These gifts never lose their shine. The longer we have them, the more we appreciate them. They  meet our deepest needs and give us a joy found no where else.

So this Christmas, I would wish you all wonderful celebrations and great times. But I’d also encourage you to remember and to celebrate that other Christmas story. 

If you know this story, be sure it’s at the center of your celebrations. If you don’t quite know it, pull out a Bible and read it in Luke 2. Or check out a Christmas service at a local church.

Jesus came into this world because of his love for you. In that love he came to die for you to offer you gifts beyond your wildest dreams. 

Sorry if I’m biased, but it’s this Christmas story that beats all others hands down.

Pastor Clarence Witten

 

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No Picture
Opinion

Ghosts of Turkeys Past

 

The Ghosts of Turkeys Past
 
You know who you are.
The people who create homemade dressing from homemade bread you have carefully aged and spices you have lovingly preserved. 
The people whose Christmas turkeys seem to leap from the oven golden brown, beautifully basted, tender and juicy.
The people who make dozens of scrumptious cookies, and do them all from scratch and two weeks in advance. 
The people whose homes are tastefully and brightly decorated inside and out with lights, mistletoe and holly. Whose Christmas trees don’t fall over. Whose cards are all sent, whose stockings are joyfully hung and whose presents are all bought or made and already wrapped. 
Bah. Humbug.
I wish to point out that the rest of us real people are currently shifting into Christmas panic mode with only 11 days to go.
We’re the ones trampling seniors and small children in the Walmart aisles in an effort to snag the last Holiday Barbie or Remote Control Flying Shark (really!?). We’re the ones who didn’t pick up the Michel Bublé Christmas CD until it was sold out, and are now wondering if Uncle Louis will actually enjoy Burl Ives Sings Kiddie Pops. We’re the ones whose last minute cookie purchases say “best before War of 1812.” 
We’re the ones whose on-the-run Christmas tree purchase falls off the car roof. Twice. Who discover on December 24 that all last year’s festive tree ornaments were accidentally inserted into the trash compactor along with last year’s festive tree. 
We are the ones currently haunted in our dreams by large, blackened turkeys exclaiming “Why did you put me in an oven at 550 degrees an hour before dinner?” (And dressing is something you do before you go out.) 
But, truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The real joy of the Christmas season lies in laughter,  and in adventures and misadventures shared. It lies in family and friends and in helping neighbours.
Perfection is way over rated.                        

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No Picture
Opinion

Roses in December

 

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December,” said James Matthew Barrie in 1922.

Think about that for a minute. What does that mean for you? When I first read Barrie’s words, I couldn’t help but think ‘Nan.’ 

So, if you were to ask me what my rose in December was, the answer would be easy – my grandmother, Jean Casselman. 

She’s the reason I get a little sad each December. I miss her. She made Christmas warm, safe, inviting, and fun. All the best Christmases I’ve ever had were spent at my Nan’s. And, I’m not alone.

We all have memories of loved ones who have made our lives better just for being in them. Holidays are a great time to remember those who have gone, but not in sadness or grief. They deserve to be remembered with glad and joyous hearts. They deserve to have their loved ones live life the way they would have, if they were still here.

And so, like Barrie’s ‘roses in December,’ I rely on my memories so that I might still have my grandmother with me, not just in December, but every day of the year.

I remember that she loved roses, the colour red, and Christmas in December. She loved gardening, children, and holidays.

I remember that Nan was the most giving and generous person I’ve ever known. She gave without expectation of receiving anything in return. She loved without condition. She listened and supported without judgement. She was my role model for what a strong, good woman should be.

Even more importantly, I remember the times we shared – good and bad. Like the time I turned 15. I had just gotten in the door from school and was leaning over to remove my shoes. Next thing I know I’m dripping wet and my Nan is laughing and smiling her mischievous smile. She said, “Happy Birthday! You thought I forgot, but I fooled you.”

Well, it’s my turn to remember, and Nan, “you may have thought I forgot, but I didn’t! I remember you each and every day.”

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Duncan Perry

 

Well, here we are again, the last day of November. Tomorrow is the first day of December, just 25 days until Christmas!

In the church this past Sunday, we celebrated the first Sunday of Advent. May I ask you a question, one that I don’t expect you to answer, except maybe for yourself, your own personal musing if you will?

What does Christmas mean to you?

Some of you will see it as a time for family and friends. Maybe a time for sharing gifts, or celebrating with family get-togethers. For some it may be so busy a time that you almost wish it never came. For others it is a boost for business. Christmas has all kinds of meanings for all kinds of people.

May I say Christmas is really about Jesus! It is a celebration of the time that God sent His one and only Son into the world to be the Savior of the world.

John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world, (that’s you and me), that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes on Him would not perish, (that is die separated from God) but would have everlasting life”.

I’m amazed today when I talk to people and listen to people talk, that it seems everyone believes he or she is going to heaven. But, the verse of scripture which I just quoted, which is God’s word by the way, tells us that to get to heaven one must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, what is it that we are supposed to believe?

Again, God’s word makes it clear for us.

Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of God’s purpose and plan for our lives.”

The bible also tells us that sin separates us from God. That is what is meant in John 3:16 when it talks about perishing. To perish is to die without having been reconciled unto God.

Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death…” eternal separation from God when we die.

There’s another part to Romans 6:23 though, and it’s the good news. It says, “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” That is why Jesus came, that is why we celebrate Christmas, because Christmas is all about Jesus.

Does that mean we shouldn’t give gifts? Not at all! By all means, bless someone who is near and dear to you this Christmas.

But, let’s not forget Jesus. 

I recently read a story about a group of people who wanted to honor a special friend. So they sent out invitations, rented a hall, decorated it beautifully, and hired a first class caterer.

On the appointed day, everyone showed up, everyone that is except the guest of honor. When those present investigated, they were embarrassed to find that they had forgotten to invite the special person that they all wanted to honor.

I think Jesus must feel like that at times. This year invite Him. He’d love to be with you, and it is His birthday after all.

From my heart to your home, “Have a Very Merry Christmas!”

 

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Sue McCullough

One Wednesday morning, not that long ago, I was sitting at my desk early in the morning. As I peered out my window, I noticed that it was a bit foggy outside – not a usual thing for mid November. 

While I was working away, I heard the distinct sound of fog horns. The timbre of the horns sent a wave of melancholy through me. I had a sense of aloneness but not loneliness, like I was the only person awake in the world at that point in time, yet God was hovering near. It felt like one of the “thin times” between me and God. The sound seemed to travel for miles and miles, almost like an echo. 

I am not certain how far along the Seaway the ship was before I couldn’t hear the sound of the fog horn any longer but it sure seemed like quite some time had passed.

Later on in the day, I was sitting in the kitchen having a cup of tea, and I heard the clear sound of a helicopter flying over. For some reason, that I have yet been able to figure out, I am fascinated by the sound and sight of helicopters. So I rushed outside to look for it. 

There I saw a very large chopper flying west. It wasn’t one of the recognizable orange helicopters that indicate someone being air-lifted to a hospital. It appeared to be a military helicopter that might well have been heading to CFB Trenton. 

As I looked up, I wondered about the people who were in that aircraft, marvelled at the fact that such an odd shaped machine could actually stay up in the air, prayed that they travelled safely to their destination and gave thanks that it wasn’t someone being flown to a hospital.

Sometime that afternoon, I was walking across the lawn returning home from the church when a small flock of geese flew overhead. There were only about eight or 10 birds flying and only one of them was honking as they flew. 

It wasn’t the noise of the call of that one lone bird that caught my attention so much as the sound of the air rushing through their wings. It sounded like a swoosh with every beat of their wings. The sound from such a few birds was quite loud so I can only imagine what it would sound like with some of the larger flocks that I see in the sky from time to time. Swoosh.

. . .that reminded me of how I thought Holy Spirit would sound when I was a little girl. The presence of God was evident to me once again that day.

As I think back on that day, I am reminded that we are blessed in so many ways. Being blessed with the ability to hear those sounds is something that I give thanks for because there are so many people in our world, our community, who cannot hear these things. 

Each time I was drawn away from my own thoughts to the world around me and I found myself entering into a time of prayer, drawing closer to God – marvelling at all of creation. The sounds of this November are not something that I will forget any time soon. Thanks be to God!

 

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Sue McCullough

One Wednesday morning, not that long ago, I was sitting at my desk early in the morning. As I peered out my window, I noticed that it was a bit foggy outside – not a usual thing for mid November. 

While I was working away, I heard the distinct sound of fog horns. The timbre of the horns sent a wave of melancholy through me. I had a sense of aloneness but not loneliness, like I was the only person awake in the world at that point in time, yet God was hovering near. It felt like one of the “thin times” between me and God. The sound seemed to travel for miles and miles, almost like an echo. 

I am not certain how far along the Seaway the ship was before I couldn’t hear the sound of the fog horn any longer but it sure seemed like quite some time had passed.

Later on in the day, I was sitting in the kitchen having a cup of tea, and I heard the clear sound of a helicopter flying over. For some reason, that I have yet been able to figure out, I am fascinated by the sound and sight of helicopters. So I rushed outside to look for it. 

There I saw a very large chopper flying west. It wasn’t one of the recognizable orange helicopters that indicate someone being air-lifted to a hospital. It appeared to be a military helicopter that might well have been heading to CFB Trenton. 

As I looked up, I wondered about the people who were in that aircraft, marvelled at the fact that such an odd shaped machine could actually stay up in the air, prayed that they travelled safely to their destination and gave thanks that it wasn’t someone being flown to a hospital.

Sometime that afternoon, I was walking across the lawn returning home from the church when a small flock of geese flew overhead. There were only about eight or 10 birds flying and only one of them was honking as they flew. 

It wasn’t the noise of the call of that one lone bird that caught my attention so much as the sound of the air rushing through their wings. It sounded like a swoosh with every beat of their wings. The sound from such a few birds was quite loud so I can only imagine what it would sound like with some of the larger flocks that I see in the sky from time to time. Swoosh.

. . .that reminded me of how I thought Holy Spirit would sound when I was a little girl. The presence of God was evident to me once again that day.

As I think back on that day, I am reminded that we are blessed in so many ways. Being blessed with the ability to hear those sounds is something that I give thanks for because there are so many people in our world, our community, who cannot hear these things. 

Each time I was drawn away from my own thoughts to the world around me and I found myself entering into a time of prayer, drawing closer to God – marvelling at all of creation. The sounds of this November are not something that I will forget any time soon. Thanks be to God!

 

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No Picture
Opinion

Watch your speed

I’ve been accused of being “heavy-footed” when it comes to the gas pedal in my trusty little car. 

After all, it’s so very easy to let that speedometer needle creep up, to come to that perfect rolling stop at a rural sign, to convince yourself that arriving at your destination 4.5 seconds sooner really justifies that extra 20 kph over the limit. 

I’ve never received a ticket; I may have deserved one.

If you are an habitual speeder, however, you’d be advised to rethink that habit next time you travel through Williamsburg on County Road 31. Apparently, according to OPP Constable Lalonde ( the Standard-Freeholder, Nov. 11, 2011) Williamsburg has one of the highest rates of speeding in SD&G. A recent traffic survey indicates that the “prevailing speed through Williamsburg is between 60-70 kph even though the (clearly posted) maximum speed is 50 kph.” 

This is dangerous and reckless driving in the heart of a small town and it has to stop.

That is the view of the County Roads Department, the OPP, the Township of South Dundas and a number of community members. It is also the view of the council for the United Counties of SD&G.       

The council has decided to establish its first Community Safety Zone on County Road 31. Under the Highway Traffic Act, this designation allows the OPP to double the fines for anyone, day or night, 365 days a year, who speeds through the community of Williamsburg.  It means that going 20 kph over the speed limit will result in a fine, not of $95, as it currently is, but rather of $180. The higher your speed, the more the fine doubles. 

The Safety Zone designation comes into effect the moment new signs indicating the change are put in place; within three weeks according to the council press release. 

The highway is very close to homes in Williamsburg; there are hard to see intersections cutting across the road (despite flashing lights); pedestrians are difficult to spot at all times.

So slow down. Speeding in Williamsburg won’t be cheap.

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