Pamela McNeil is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: sunday worship for March and April Time: Mar 5, 2023 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Every week on Sun, until Apr 30, 2023, 9 occurrence(s) Mar 5, 2023 10:00 AM Mar 12, 2023 10:00 AM Mar 19, 2023 10:00 AM Mar 26, 2023 10:00 AM Apr 2, 2023 10:00 AM Apr 9, 2023 10:00 AM Apr 16, 2023 10:00 AM Apr 23, 2023 10:00 AM Apr 30, 2023 10:00 AM
The service on Sunday February 26 will begin with an invitation to Lent, confession and the imposition of ashes. Join in person or through the usual zoom link found on the parish FB page.
If joining through media, prepare your space with bread and wine for communion, and oil, water or ash. Place it in a special area, and light a candle if you wish. Here is a short reflection I offer to mark the beginning of lent.
Blessed are we,
A mess of contradictions
In our delusions and deep hopes
In our fragility and finitude (limitations)
Reflection on Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21
We read scripture and hear Jesus say not to disfigure our face with ashes when we fast, and then we stand to receive a cross of ash on our forehead. It seems to be a contradiction. Today we are reminded that the mark is not meant as a symbol of piety but rather it is a reminder of our mortality and a reminder of our dependence on God’s grace.
We open our hands to the hopeless, the homeless, the addicted, hoping for their life to turn around, and then we proceed in the delusion it could never happen to us. I remember being astonished when a prison guard told my college class that his actions toward inmates were always generous because “you never know when you might be the one behind bars”…. I foolishly thought that was ridiculous because I thought we had control to be free. I’ve learned that prisons take many different forms, …. When disaster strikes, when health diagnoses are terminal, when dearest relationships crumble through betrayal… The prison of grief and loss surrounds us. Ashes of that loss remind us of our mortality and our complete dependence on Gods grace.
We carefully set up a system for security and wealth, planning for stability for our later years. We set aside finances for the future… a future that quickly disappears as change shakes what we expected. This earthly life is fragile and even living rebelliously has limitations. In the ashes of our assumptions and plans we are reminded of Gods grace.
We are reminded that the cross marked us in our baptism and we are named child of God. Nothing can separate us from that promise.
As we proceed into the church season of Lent we are invited to receive the ash marking of the cross in humble gratitude for the one who loves us without reservation, who forgives us without conditions and who cleanses us completely through the life, death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus. Amen
the Lord creator took me as dust from the earth,
and formed me into a living being,
breathing into me the breath of life.
God honoured me,
setting me as ruler upon the earth over all things visible,
and made me a companion of the angels.
But Satan the deceiver,
using the serpent as instrument,
enticed me by food-
parted me from the glory of God,
and gave me over to the earth and to the lowest depths of the earth.
Find here 1) a retreat for anytime, but especially for Epiphany; 2) An Epiphany blessing for your home; 3) An invitation to receive a “star word”.
Get a star word to guide you this year! What is a star word? On the day that we remember the star that led the magi to Jesus, we pass out pieces of paper decorated with stars and a printed word.
The premise is this: the magi followed the star to find baby Jesus, bringing their gifts. We are also seeking Jesus, trusting God can and does use many signs (or stars) to guide us closer to the Divine presence.
People are invited to receive a star word and carry the word for the year using it, reflecting on it and stretching it so it stretches you! You will be amazed. I invite people to trust the word that selects them. Please message me or leave a comment on this Facebook page if you would like a star word. https://www.facebook.com/groups/3614505048672347
Epiphany Blessing for your Home: The inscription chalked above the main door of your home is *20+CMB+23*
The letters stand for either the Latin Blessing Christe mansionem benedicat, which means “Christ Bless this house”; or the legendary names of the magi- Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.
This simple ritual accompanies inscribing the blessing over your entrance: Use the parts below which are meaningful to your family.
May peace be to this house and to all who enter here. By wisdom a house is built And through understanding it is established: Through knowledge its rooms are filled With rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24:3-4)
As we prepare to ask God’s blessing on this household Let us listen to the words of scripture: In the beginning was the Word, And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him And without him not one thing came into being And the life was the light of all people. The Word became flesh and lived among us and we have seen his glory, The glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. (John 1:1-4, 14, 16)
Inscription: Write the appropriate letter while speaking the text:
Followed the star of God’s Son who came to dwell among us
20 two thousand
23 and twenty three years ago.
+ Christ bless this house
+ and remain with us throughout the new year
Prayer of Blessing:
O God, you revealed your Son to all people By the shining light of a star. We pray that you bless this home and all who live here with your gracious presence. May your love be our inspiration, Your wisdom our guide, Your truth our light, And your peace our benediction: Through Christ our Lord Amen
Then everyone may walk from room to room, blessing the house with incense or sprinkling with water using an evergreen branch. From Sundays & Seasons @2022 Augsburg Fortress. Used with permission under ONELICENSE #A-736624. All Rights Reserved
This beautiful Epiphany Retreat can be enjoyed over several days, or weeks, or pondered during one day: I have been invited to share this Epiphany (Women’s Christmas) retreat from Jan Richardson. It is also for men Introduction: There is a custom, rooted in ireland, of celebrating epiphany (January 6, which brings the christ- mas season to a close) as women’s christmas. called Nollaig na mBan in irish, women’s christmas originated as a day when the women, who often carried the domestic responsibilities all year, took epiphany as an occasion to celebrate together at the end of the holidays, leaving hearth and home to the men for a few hours. celebrated particularly in county cork and county Kerry, the tradition is enjoying a revival. Click on this link for readings, reflections and ponderings
(leader) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, on them light has shined. We have beheld Christ’s glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given. In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
Psalm 96 – Please join in reading the psalm.
1 O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.
4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;he is to be revered above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Honour and majesty are before him;strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9 Worship the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.
Message: Hello dear friends; I’m sitting at my desk, looking at the snowdrifts half way up the screen, but that doesn’t matter, because I can’t see across the street anyway, so I’m thinking “this isn’t quite the way I had planned to spend my day” – and this isn’t the message I had planned to share with you either.
But things turn out anyway.
So, peace to you this day as we open our hearts from the Advent longing and waiting and grasp on to the love that is given for you and for me this night.
Our service began with the beautiful hymn O Holy Night, and as I sit, isolated, somewhat sad and alone, I hear the words in that hymn “Till He appeared and our souls felt their worth”. The gift of the babe in Bethlehem is to stir our souls to feeling the value of each of us – alone or together, we have value and are treasured. Our souls have worth, WE have worth! This is a beautiful gift of Christmas.
Next, we shared in the words of the hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem, and heard the words “The Hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight” Of all the years, these past few years have seen fear, anxiety, and even some dashed hopes – so how do those words of “hopes and fears of all the years” hit us as we realize this Baby in Bethlehem is God, taken on human form to walk with us in our disappointments and in our celebrations; This child knows our sadness and anxiety, and still chose to become manifest and walk through all that mess with us – that alone is joyous!
Two more hymns speak to me this evening: Silent night with the promise of peace on earth – the silencing of warring weapons and distressed people; the silence of the hungry people in our communities as they were fed Christmas dinner last week at Trinity Lutheran Church in Walkerton; and in the midst of the silence at that dinner, we heard the quiet laughter of a little child eating there with their mom. Peace does not come from silencing the voices of those in distress: Peace is when those voices are satisfied with the necessities for daily living and can gently laugh!
As we realize that the Christ Child is born for us we also see – especially this year – that he is born for me – who is sitting here alone – ME! As we realize that the gift is personal we also take on the responsibility to personally live in ways that bring peace to everyone. This is an individual task, and together with Jesus it is all possible.
Finally, the last hymn which I would like to highlight is not even listed in the Christmas section of the hymnal. Joy to the world is an advent hymn, but it is sung as a Christmas hymn. It could also be an Easter hymn, and a funeral hymn and a baptism hymn, because it is the joyful promise of God, sent to us in a baby in Bethlehem, sent to us in the risen Christ, and in the waters of Baptism, bread and wine and in the promise of eternal life. Joy Joy Joy! We need wait no longer. Christ is born in Bethlehem, Let the world rejoice.
It was a night of gifts. Let us present our gifts.
Offertory Prayer: God of abundance, Receive and bless these gifts we have offered. Join our hearts with the song of the angels and gather us at your table of celebration. Strengthen us to share with all the world the abundance of your grace upon grace, poured out in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Amen
Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel.
Read this scripture passage silently. What picture comes to mind as you read? Read it again, out loud this time, if possible. Are their new thoughts that surface? Read the passage a third time this time pausing to take a breath at each punctuation mark. go into your day with blessing.
Advent meditation for December 22: O Come, O key of David Come
Isaiah 22:22 I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open. Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel.
The key of David refers to the gospel of Christ, the truth of God taking on human form to be with humanity. What do you think it means for that gospel truth to be shut and opened? It might be that sometimes we understand and other times we have many questions! Writing down our questions is sometimes the first step in finding answers. Close by taking a moment gazing on something beautiful near you right now.
Seasonal reflections from congregation members which are shareable. Peace be with you as this reflection time draws to conclusion at the manger. Sincere thanks to all who contributed, and to all who participated, read, shared and mediated. Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this which the angels have told.
Candy Cane (Peppermint) Cheesecake: Tell the story as you create and share at the Christmas table.
From Pam Polfuss Schmidt – she says “this is one recipe that if I don’t make it, everyone gets upset” The grin on Steve’s face when she said this shows how true that is!
Not gonna lie, this recipe is fiddly and time consuming, but it’s also well worth the effort as a dessert during the holiday season. Be warned, if you make it once you may be asked to bring it every year!
NOTE: I prep all the ingredients before I make the gelatin
1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
¼ cup cold water
2 (8 oz/250 ml) containers soft cream cheese
½ cup white sugar
½ cup milk
¼ cup crushed peppermint candy canes
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
2 milk chocolate candy bars, finely chopped (Note: not actual photo, but it looks similar)
Combine crumbs and butter; press into bottom of 9-inch spring form pan. Bake at 350oF for 10 minutes. Cool.
Soften gelatin in water; stir over low heat until dissolved. Combine cream cheese and sugar, mixing at medium speed with electric mixer until blended. Gradually add gelatin, milk and crushed candy canes, mixing well.
Chill until thickened, but not set.
Fold in whipped cream and chocolate; pour over crust. Chill until firm.
Garnish with additional whipped cream combined with crushed candy canes and shaved chocolate, if desired.
Meditation on The Star: by Laurie Zimmerman Hopf –
Meditation on The Star of Bethlehem
“We saw his star in the East and have come to worship him” Matthew 2:2
The Holy Star
As shadows cast by cloud and sun
Flit o’er the summer grass
So, in thy sight, Almighty One,
Earth’s generations pass.
And while the years, and endless host,
Come pressing swiftly on,
The brightest names that Earth can boast
Just glisten and are gone.
Yet doth the Star of Bethlehem shed
A lustre pure and sweet,
And still it leads, as once it led,
To the Messiah’s feet.
O Father, may that holy star
Grow every year more bright,
And sends its glorious beams afar
To fill the world with light.
— William Cullen Bryant
We as Christians see the star of Bethlehem as a monumental symbol of the Christmas story. It is written in the Gospel of St. Matthew that the Star appeared in the East to lead the Magi to the Christ child. As I looked up information on the Star of Bethlehem I found that it has been the topic of much discussion, as people try to theorize if indeed it was a star in the sky, or if it is symbolic to suggest that God’s light shines brighter and is the beacon of his love even in the darkest of times.
For me, I like to think of it in both perspectives. The Star leading the Magi to find the Christ child perhaps was an astronomical phenomenon. A light so bright, and consistent, for a lengthy period of time, that became a compass for the Wise Men leading them to the King of the Jews. I also like to think that it represents the light of God’s love that is perpetually cast upon us, leading and guiding us to his eternal Kingdom. Whichever way you interpret the Star of Bethlehem it ultimately reminds us that God is everywhere and that he perpetually engulfs us in his love and guidance and he will be our compass even in life’s most tumultuous times.
Dear Lord, We ask that you be our daily Star of Bethlehem that guides our lives, that generously fills our hearts with your forgiving and never ending love, and that you be our light on the journey to your Kingdom of Heaven. Amen
Laurie Zimmerman Hopf
One more recipe to gather together those we love:
Pecan and Warm Apple Salad with Cheddar
This recipe is from a good friend who remarked that one of the best things about coming home from work is being together in the kitchen and taking time to make a salad. This recipe is one of his favorites. It has become a favorite for us too! It has several small steps that can be divided so all can take part. Cook the apples just before serving.
Pam and Paul
(prepare an amount suitable for the number of salads you will make.)
Pecans and Romaine lettuce
2 oz old cheddar, shaved
2 red apples: Courtland, Spartan
1 tbsp butter
(makes enough for 4 side salads)
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp wine vinegar
½ tsp liquid honey
¼ tsp salt
2-3 grindings pepper
Directions – set up a station for each person to complete a part of the salad
Stir pecans in a large hot pan over heat until fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.
Tear lettuce into bite size pieces.
Mix dressing ingredients together and whisk to blend.
Shave cheese with a vegetable peeler.
When ready to serve, core and slice apples. Heat butter in the large pan. Add apple slices, (reserve a few slices) when butter is bubbly. Sauté for a few minutes turning frequently until semi-soft.
Place lettuce in a large bowl and toss with dressing. Add warm apples and pecans. Top with the reserved raw apple slices.