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The Oriole February 2010


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The February 2010 newsletter of OYM - Oriole-York Mills United Church, Toronto

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The Oriole February 2010

  1. 1. THE ORIOLE Oriole-York Mills United Church Newsletter February 2010 In this issue: Our Pastor’s Message Suffering Inside the Circle of God’s Love Our Pastor’s Message: Suffering Inside the Circle The terrible images of the devastating of God’s Love ………….…1 earthquake in Haiti have been emotionally wrenching. It was significant enough for me A Message from Rev. Val ...3 to change the theme of my message on Council News ……………….5 January 17th. I wanted to say something about human suffering and God. The Meaning of Stones ……7 Jesus spoke to the issue of suffering and its Social Justice Action .………8 cause in Luke 13:1-5. A tower unexpectedly fell and killed 18 people. Some people then DVRR Update ...…..........….. 9 asked Jesus questions we all ask: Why did this happen? Who was to blame? Were Did You Know? – Daylight those 18 killed because of their sin? Jesus Saving Time ………………10 told them, no, the people killed were no worse than anyone else living in Jerusalem Thanks to Contributors …..11 who escaped the tragedy. Those people just Save Trees and Money happened to be in the wrong place when the Either Way ……………..…..11 tower fell. Contributions and We often suffer innocently because we Suggestions …..….………..11 happen to be in the wrong place. In the midst of great global or personal tragedies, Your OYM Calendar .…..…12 emotions of grief, despair, doubt and anger may rise within us and we cry out with Contact OYM .…….….…..…12 questions that have no answers. Those who know God understand that is OK. We stand
  2. 2. in a long line of faithful believers – from prophets to psalmists, including Job – who did not understand what was happening to them, or why, and whose emotions and questions spilled out before God. There are some people now as then who will try to supply answers. Besides those who are always blaming God in situations like this, there are also others who think they are explaining God. ‘Job’s comforters’, they are called. But they usually get it wrong. For according to God – and that’s whose opinion counts! – Job did not suffer because of his sin. When Job encountered God, he did not hear a detailed explanation of why he suffered but, in a strong yet compassionate manner, he heard that God wanted to restore the relationship Job had with him before his circumstances changed. Job responded to God by repenting for even thinking God may have caused the tragedies in his life. For God did not cause Job’s suffering! I do not think we offer our heart-wrenching laments in suffering primarily to get answers. But, rather, through our laments of grief, pain and suffering, we are joined empathetically to others and, most importantly, compassionately to God. There have been remarkable news reports of crowds of people singing together on the open streets of Port-au-Prince – singing Haitian hymns of lament (understandably) but also (amazingly!) hymns of praise to God. We have only a limited understanding of why terrible things happen. But that does not mean there is nothing to say. Scripture urges us to seek God – the living God who lives in the centre of tragedy, suffering with us and for us. Is this witness not seen most clearly in the cross of Jesus, where God joined with us in suffering an unjust and cruel death out of his love for all humanity? My friends, God does not cause chaos but enters into it with us. God does not send calamity but suffers with us through it. God does not stand over us but holds tightly onto us and promises never to let us go. No wonder Paul declared so powerfully in Romans 8:35-39: “Who, then, can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death? I am certain there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.” 2
  3. 3. In Lamentations 3:19-24, Jeremiah responded to the fall of Jerusalem: “The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.” God not only suffers with us but God also works through us. Helen Keller said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” Jesus said: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me” (Matthew 25:35-36). Jesus called the Church to be his healing and helping presence wherever there is suffering in the world. Giving through proven organizations you already trust is the best way to donate. Our United Church is also appealing for donations to support relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti in partnership with the ACT Alliance – a network of churches and Christian aid agencies that enables global responses to emergencies and development needs. So let us pray for the people of Haiti and share generously. Chris Miller For more on the ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) and their work in Haiti, visit ___________________________________________________________________________ A Message from Rev. Val … Happy New Year! Welcome to 2010! In this Season after Epiphany, we explore and discover ways the light of Christ becomes alive in the life and work of Christian faith communities. Along with the Youth we continue to learn more about our shared Christian faith alive and growing as we journey together. We are very happy and privileged to welcome the Adult Mentors who will continue to meet with the Youth every third Sunday of the month. January 18th marked our first ‘Confirmation Lunch and Learn’ event which went very well. During this time the discussion focused on 3
  4. 4. exploring why we need to be part of a faith community and further explored how Jesus’ ministry helps shape our lives everyday. At the First Sunday of Advent Service the OYM children and youth helped as servers for Holy Communion and offered their leadership in the ‘Family Time Spiritual Reflection’ as they explored through liturgical movement how we are moved to serve as an ‘Instrument of Peace.’ This helped the congregation to explore deeper ways to feel and live an inspiring faith! The Monthly Amica Worship Services continue to be well received as was the Advent Holy Communion Service. There will be a special Valentine’s Worship Service planned for the folks at Amica to enjoy soon! Those at Cedarhurst and Lifestyles continue to enjoy the weekly bulletins and, of course, the Christmas cookies and Christmas messages from the children and youth. As we come to celebrate Black History Month during February we remember that we are the Body of Christ “called to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil”. Let us celebrate and reflect on how our brothers and sisters throughout the world enrich our learning of how to serve as Christ’s Body! ‘Believe It, God’s Riches are Here!’ is the Youth Workshop from Mission and Service that we will explore in the coming weeks throughout their journey as Confirmands. Over the coming months the children and youth hope to interview and explore with our Senior members at OYM what happened as they and their families celebrated the birth of The United Church of At OYM or your Canada in 1925 and what church life was like in home, let the those early years. If you were alive in 1925, or born young people soon after, please let the young people hear your hear your memories – this could be at OYM or in your home. memories of the Reports of these memories will be part of our learning early years of journey as the OYM family of faith discover more the United about our United Church when OYM celebrates the Church of 85th Anniversary of Church Union on Sunday June Canada 6th, 2010. Yes, “We have this ministry,” as together we grow deeper in our faith understanding. 4
  5. 5. We are the Body of Christ, “O God receive our living!” (VU #510) God’s Blessings to You! In Christ’s Service, Rev. Val For further information concerning volunteering your Church Union Story, as well as Youth Confirmation, Outings, and requests for Pastoral care visits, please contact me at tel. # 416-417-4439; @; @ or through Jean at the Church Office. _____________________________________________________________________ Council News First I want to congratulate and thank everyone in the congregation who responded so well over the last two months of 2009 to our local givings campaign. With your generous support, we increased our givings from $73,165 as of October to $103,114 as of the end of December. In doing so, we exceeded by nine per cent our 2009 goal of $94,300. This gain of some $30,000 over two months is very impressive and reassuring. I think Reverend Chris’s October sermon on giving had much to do with this outcome along with a very enjoyable series of Advent season services on the theme of ‘Get Connected With Christmas’. Along with Chris, your Worship and Christian Education Committee, Derrick – our Director of Music, members of the Choir and our children from Sunday’s Cool who performed in the Cantata deserve a special vote of thanks for their sustained efforts to make this past Christmas such a joyous and memorable one. It is certainly also appropriate for us to recognize with much appreciation Dianne Domelle, Elda Scott, and Dave Johnson, with Pedro’s assistance, for the beautiful and magical ambiance they created in decorating the Sanctuary for the Christmas season. It was also encouraging to welcome three new members to our congregation. For Gale and Brian George, and Nancy Sirois, your decisions to seek a deeper relationship with us in your spiritual journey have made our hearts glad. As well, having all those children, their families and friends 5
  6. 6. present for the baptism service in early December added immensely to bringing into focus the true meaning of Christmas. On other matters, your Council has set up a task force consisting of its Executive Committee and other members of the congregation to review, assess, and advise on OYM’s Strategic Growth Initiative. We plan to have an interim report available for our Annual Annual Congregational Meeting which is scheduled to Congregational take place on Sunday, February 28th. Please Meeting on mark this important event on your calendars. It will be a time to look back and to look forward and, Sunday February through your decisions there, to give further 28th definition to OYM’s future. OYM’s new web site was one of the main initiatives taken this past year. We are very gratified by the response to it since it was launched last October. Many from within OYM see it as a significant improvement in the way we project our church life to the world beyond our doors. The site is also gaining traction in cyberspace with the number of visitors to it increasing by some 70% between October and December. It is also revealing that next to the Home Page, the Spiritual Journey page is the second most visited one. As has been said before, we only get one chance to make a good first impression. In this light, these initial results are encouraging. A key will be to keep the content ever-fresh and timely. Again many thanks are due to those members of the congregation who have provided content for our suite of web pages. I do invite everyone to visit our web site ( often and to continue to provide us with feedback on it. Currently, our Home Page includes a video of our new Moderator, Mardi Tindal, introducing her open letter to Canadians on climate change in the aftermath of the Copenhagen conference she attended. Her entire open letter, with some complementary images of Canada’s Arctic added, is also posted on our web site at the God’s Creation section of the Spiritual Journey page. A hard copy version of her letter is also available each Sunday on the table in the entrance lounge. I highly recommend everybody to read it and reflect on its key 6
  7. 7. messages and call to action. These key messages and call to action also relate to our mission of being faithful stewards of God’s creation. See you in church on Sunday! Gerry Cooper _____________________________________________________________________ The Meaning of Stones … Lynn Watt, reporting on the ‘Equipping Ambassadors of Reconciliation’ conference last November Participants walked in a circle around the room and, from a collection of stones placed on a table, each chose a stone to take home. As we held the stones we had selected, we read together the following Liturgy of the Stones. Leader: This stone comes from this place in which we have gathered. All: It is part of the Earth, formed by the Creator, just as we are. Leader: Jesus said stones would cry out if humans remained silent. All: We will listen to our hearts and speak from them. Leader: Stones like this have marked graves. All: Jesus rose out of death into a new life and the stone was rolled away from his grave. Leader: Stones like these mark paths for those who journey. All: This stone in our hands will mark the way we journey toward right relationships. Leader: Like words and broken trust, stones can be used to break apart, hurt and injure. All: In our hands this stone will be a sign of the strength of what we can build together. Participants in this liturgy quoted above were attendees at a conference called ‘Equipping Ambassadors of Reconciliation’. The liturgy was part of 7
  8. 8. the closing ceremony. The conference was a three-day event held in Orillia last November and was attended by members of the United, Anglican and Presbyterian churches in Ontario and Quebec. The hoped for reconciliation is with the First Nations peoples of this land, formerly known to them as Turtle Island and the promise of reconciliation is that we will forge a new and honourable relationship, with justice and dignity for all. The stones that were part of the closing ceremony would symbolize the commitment of those in the church to such right relationships with First Nations peoples. At Oriole-York Mills United Church we too use stones in our worship as a symbol of commitment, to our faith and also to serve as a reminder to us to reflect on our thoughts and actions. A stone from an OYM service two weeks earlier was taken to Orillia and became part of the closing ceremony at the ‘Equipping Ambassadors of Reconciliation’ conference. In this way, the dedication of Oriole-York Mills to right relationships became part of a ceremony of reconciliation and, in turn, the spirit of reconciliation was rekindled at Oriole-York Mills. ___________________________________________________________________ Social Justice Action Fairlawn United Church hosted a multi-church meeting last December about social justice. Moira Mancer and Lynn Watt represented OYM at this meeting. Each church described their community and worldwide outreach support and then the group got down to talking about social justice. While Outreach can be described as addressing immediate needs and tangible help, social justice addresses the systemic causes of injustice that often result in the need for Outreach. Social justice is generally long term and more difficult than Outreach. Outreach, such as the OYM’s charitable activities, addresses needs right now and must not be ignored while injustice continues. 8
  9. 9. The conclusion at the December meeting was that we should meet again to have more time to discuss which social justice issue to champion and how such an objective could be achieved. Social justice action involving many churches could bring a stronger voice to local, provincial and national political circles. This could involve writing letters, visiting representatives, and signing petitions in the future. What’s next? Until Moira and Lynn have something more definite to report about social justice, there is a way to help reduce poverty in Ontario. Since June 2009, the Stop Community Food Centre has issued a challenge: ‘Do the Math’ in support of a $100 per month Healthy Food Supplement to social assistance rates – revised rates are expected in the March budget. The Stop provides an online survey allowing you to compare your estimates of a basic needs budget with what people on Ontario Works and on the Ontario Disability Support Program receive. The results come as a surprise and you can send a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty online! Help reduce poverty by visiting ___________________________________________________________________ DVRR Update Last August, a Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) team provided a 5-day orientation at the Al Hol Camp on the Syria-Iraq border. This is the refugee camp where the DVRR-sponsored Palestinian family wait to come to Toronto. COA is part of the International Organisation for Migration and is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The COA program is new to DVRR – as it reassures newcomers, so it will help settlement. The OAC program provided some basic English and covered the following topics:  facts about Canada,  Canadian geography, climate, and weather,  travel procedures to Canada,  information relating to their Private Sponsorship,  their rights and responsibilities, and Canadian laws, 9
  10. 10.  healthcare,  education,  working in Canada,  cultural shock adaptation, and  other topics relating to the needs and specific questions of the group. It was reported that the refugees seemed less anxious about their upcoming departure and about the changes following their arrival in Canada. The letter with this news came with a photo of DVRR’s sponsored Palestinian family. Shown on the left are Amneh Al-Sama’neh, Mamdooh Al-Madi Kazem, with their OAC certificates, and their young daughter Fatima. After the news of the OAC program came the news of the birth of Mohamed Mamdooh Atef Al-Madi on December 15th, 2009. The pregnancy and arrival of Mohammed has delayed the sponsored family’s travel to Canada. So now DVRR waits to welcome this Palestinian family with two children to Toronto. DVRR raised $3,976.48 through the sale of flower bulb kits and donations last fall. Elaine Bremer and Moira Mancer thank supporters at OYM for their contributions. This money will help to support the Palestinian family. _____________________________________________________________________ Did You Know? – Daylight Saving Time Germany and Austria were the first countries to legislate use of Daylight Saving Time. To conserve fuel during World War I, they moved their clocks ahead an hour on April 30, 1916. In Canada federal legislation introduced Daylight Savings Time in the spring of 1918. This legislation was an attempt to standardise the piecemeal adoption of Daylight Savings across the country – Nova Scotia and Manitoba had been the first to adopt time changes. 10
  11. 11. Now it's up to each province to decide whether to use Daylight Saving Time. As readers know, Spring Forward Ontario does! In 2010 all readers must move their at 2 a.m. on clocks forward one hour on the weekend of March Sunday March 13th and 14th. If you will be awake at 2 a.m. on 14th Sunday March 14th, do it then. Please don’t arrive at church on Sunday March 14th as the worship service is ending! Sources: _____________________________________________________________________ Thanks to Contributors Thanks to the following for contributions for this issue: Gerry Cooper Council News (page 5) Lynn Watt The Meaning of Stones (page 7) ___________________________________________________________________ Save Trees and Money Either Way More people could save trees and save OYM money at the same time. Sign up for ‘The Oriole’ in pdf format by sending an email to ‘The Oriole <>'. If not going the pdf route, you can help to save some trees by leaving Oriole envelopes for re-use for the next edition of ‘The Oriole’. Envelopes left from the last Oriole will be used for this edition. If you have no use for the envelope at home, please leave it in the box provided in the narthex. __________________________________________________________________________ Contributions and Suggestions Contributions and suggestion for future issues of ‘The Oriole’ are welcome from all readers. Please send contributions and suggestions to ‘The Oriole’ by sending an email (The Oriole <>), leaving a message in the slot for ‘The Oriole’ in the office, or talking to Moira Mancer. _____________________________________________________________________ 11
  12. 12. Your OYM Calendar Coming Sunday Worship Services and Events Sunday February 14th Mission Sunday, with guest speaker Clovis Grant from Eva’s Place Sunday February 21st First Sunday of Lent, starting Lenten theme of ‘Renewal’ Sundays February 21st to Lenten theme during worship services March 21st including ‘Temptation to Renewal’, ‘Barriers to Renewal’, ‘The Way to Renewal’, and ‘Prepared for Renewal’ Sunday March 28th Palm Sunday worship with Choir Cantata ‘No Greater Love’ Friday April 2nd Good Friday worship service at 10:30 a.m. th Sunday April 4 Easter Sunday: ‘The Great Renewal’, including Holy Communion Other Notable Events Monday February 8th Bridge Club Session at 1 p.m. in entrance lounge – all players welcome (subsequent meetings 2nd Monday each month) Wednesday February 17th Wednesday Study Group continues: Acts of Apostles: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in entrance lounge Sunday February 28th Annual Congregational meeting following worship service Tuesday March 2nd Council Meeting at 7 p.m. in entrance lounge Contact OYM: Oriole-York Mills United Church 2609 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON, M2L 1B5 Phone: 416-447-5941 Email: 12