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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Advocate

Self-emptying, open vistas, pondering and praying, dwelling and discerning, writing and wondering. Names flash before me, Faces emerge. Thoughts surface. Words form.

As unproductive as these moments of reflection may be viewed within the world of business, it has become the norm for me to start my day this way. I now have confidence in the outcome of listening within and allowing the notions that arise to influence my day’s agenda and actions. Ultimately, I have become engaged and aligned in the Mission of a church that I see is “on course” The above spiritual practice I participate in, is what I have learned from our CEM Mission Advocates, from the Leading Congregations in Mission retreat and in exploring the world church website. These practices have been introduced to the church from our insightful leadership at World Church who themselves participate in and are advocates for these spiritual practices that guide the workplace sensitivities, governance, and administration of a church that exists differently in the world than that of a business or other governing bodies. World Church is the hub of a wheel from which redemptive ministries flow. Our Mission Centres are an extension of those ministries which cascade to congregations, members and ministers. Ministry as members or apostles begins with prayerful listening moments. These moments inform our lives, the life of a church and the lives of those who are impacted by our ministries that emerge.

I am grateful for a World Church whose first principle of “being” both within its individual leaders and governance holds forth discerning spiritual practices as where we begin in each and every decision. We are recipients of grace through the ministries of World Church. Even though we may perceive the functions of World Church are similar to a corporate head office in structure and communications, there is a fundamentally different foundational awareness of presence and mission that permeates the interactions and ministries that flow from its centre.

As members who are distant geographically from these interactions, we presume the corporate World Church operates with the same business protocols as what we are familiar with where we work. How do we become attuned to who we are as a Church that is “in the world but not of it.” We need to get to know the very heart of our being as a people and not take World Church for granted. It is a blessing in our midst. May we each proactively as a beginning place in our relationship with World Church allow it to be a source of blessing in our lives. May we put aside any we/they attitudes that may exist and allow ourselves to be open to the ongoing flow of ministries from our Centre. We need to view our context with World Church as a relationship. Therefore, let us choose to know the other. Let us delve into the World Church website and meet our leadership, our devoted staff that support us and explore the wealth of resources that are there for no other reason than for us. Someone, dedicated, prayerful and insightful wrote and prepared every resource that is shared……just for you…., to bless you personally, to be a blessing through you to others.

If we are to be Community of Christ, our calling, a blessing in the midst of our neighbourhoods, then the call to us is to become aligned with the heart of who we are. If World Church is a far off entity in your life, we have lost our soul as a church. I invite you to reconnect, to envision yourself beyond your own life, your own congregation to the source of our identity as Community of Christ. World Church is a blessing and resource and most of all, gifted, loving and giving people we need to get to know and affirm as they affirm us.

Ultimately, our contributions maintain the ministries of World Church. Unlike a business, there is no products to sell to generate revenues, no sources of income to fund operations solely focused to bless our lives. Although we live within the day to day of congregational life which we financially support, World Church relies on you and me to fund all of its ministries. May awareness of the grace of this source of blessing in our midst allow us to also start contributing to World Church or to increase our generosity. It is greatly needed. Thank you for your new or renewed relationship with the heart of our Church. Thereby your life will continue to be blessed but you now also have a renewed awareness, a new connectedness and an emerging relationship that will broaden the scope of your life and ministries. Thank you.

Submitted by Kerry

Thursday, December 12, 2013

With the Advent of......

Life had a way of being lived, then with the advent of Christ in my life……everything changed. Encountering the grace of God is life changing. Advent can occur everyday as we allow Christ to intersect our lives, to be vulnerable to grace. We can intentionally live by the “Advent Creed”; expecting, anticipating, hoping and discovering as we align our lives with Christ. My experience is that I/we may take for granted our life in Christ.  What does this mean? To me, it is assuming that things are not going to change, that we can relax unawares in an illusive relationship with Christ or the church just leaving things the way they are, because it is probably the easiest option and does not disrupt our busy lives. We think all is well.

I propose “we do not know what we don’t know”. Abiding in Christ, taking upon us the name of Christ, is very much about continual change. That is why we celebrate, and participate in a season of Advent. Advent points to and calls us to the “new” in Christ. Often in accepting the status quo in our lives, taking things for granted, we rest upon our self-sufficiencies even when doing what we consider ministry. We rely upon our personal self-reliance, independence, our expertise, skill-sets and innate abilities with experienced heightened ego in moments of excellence. Our personal best thinking, best competencies, best anything may actually obscure, detour or diminish the “new” that the Spirit is seeking to do through me/us. “We do not know what we don’t know” We do not understand. Living within the Advent Creed we become aware that abiding in Christ is a daily advent awareness of seeing through new eyes, new sensitivities, discerning afresh the day or moment ahead. Our new Words of Counsel express that “opportunities abound in your daily life if you choose to see them” Advent living prepares the way for us to “see,” to have the veil lifted from our minds, to understand our moments in our day are not about me/us, but about those opportunities that abound about me/us that would not otherwise be seen. My personal best can become better! Outcomes of my best made better are more relevant, more personal, more compassionate, more caring, more real than in trusting in myself.

The experience of personal advent is one of vulnerability, becoming more receptive, dwelling in prayer, pondering in thought, learning and discerning in expectant hope. Today we use the phrase, “spiritual formation”. The reality of this experience is one of becoming absolutely aware of what I did not know, of my illusions of ministerial independence, of the richness of grace. Only then can I begin to ascertain the abundance of opportunities that the Spirit guides and enables. I have posed this question before in a blog. Is this the stuff of mystics, itself an illusion? I have tried both ways of living. My testimony is that the vulnerable, emptying, listening advent way of life is real. The best does become better, more positive, more inclusive, more personal, but there is also a knowing assurance beyond hope that the expected Spirit will abide, empower and enlighten. The other side of the coin is that life also becomes more disruptive and unexpected in what is encountered when advent moments emerge. There is also a yearning for more.

I call you to believe in the historical and personal Advent of Christ. Seek him out as Wise Men of Old……

Submitted by Kerry    

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Year-end Generosity for Maximum Tax Deductions

Year-end Generosity for Maximum Tax Deductions

In the December Herald the church reported generosity giving is down more than 20% this year. Do you have the capacity to give more? The leap illustrated above can be manifested in practical ways through your gift to the church to support our Christ led Mission. Especially this month, let's personally reduce the consuming trend which then increases our capacity to give and see ourselves as part of the solution. Thank you, your lives will reflect where your heart is.

Before year-end we each have the opportunity to maximize our generosity contributions and also become recipients of the Canada Revenue tax deductions. Here is how this works for you. Of the first $200 of your charitable donation to the church, 20% of this becomes a deduction. When your charitable contributions exceed $200, everything over that amount is a tax deduction of 40% of the amount you contributed.

Example - Contribution of $500 (Ontario only)

*         On the 1st $200 the government credit is $40 of your donation

*         On the next $300 the government credit is $120 of your contribution

*         On that $500 total contribution the government credit is $160

*         On a $1000 total annual contribution the government credit is $360 or 36%

If you have already reached the $200 donation mark this year, then everything you give now at year-end (by Dec 31st) receives a tax credit of 40% of your contribution. ($40 for every $100 given)

Through your generosity you become the giver and the receiver. This out-flowing of our generous response in time, treasure and talents touches the lives of others and warms our hearts as we experience the joy of giving.

Submitted by Kerry

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

To Be With You

As I attend your congregations to be with the folks in the CEM and engage you in the class and sermon I feel blessed to hear your testimonies, of your personal and collective involvement in the lives of others. It is wonderful to observe and receive ministry from those who when I last saw them 15 years ago were not yet ordained or sharing in public ministry.  I see the joyful almost boisterous singing of some and the quieter thoughtful posture of others. I appreciate the giftedness of those who have planned the worship, evidenced by meaningful readings, relevant scriptures, complimentary hymns, all presided over by a discerning and shepherding presider. Your prayers lift me up and challenge me.  How I value the discussions with our folks during the potluck lunches. I hear what you are reading that has inspired you, the documentaries you recommend I watch which would provide me with new insights into such things as environmental stewardship or our innate compassion within. I hear about your children and grandchildren, your joy in their lives. I take notes that your college and adult kids are in areas where a church or Community Place may integrate with their lives. I hear of your losses, your struggles, and your empathy for others. I watch the dynamics of your interactions with one another. I hear the laughter of fellowship. Some pull me aside to share administrative matters and share thoughts about our direction or ideas we may consider. I take notes. I ponder the what-ifs. Behind the scenes there are so many who prepared the lunch fixings, manage the kitchen tasks and engage in their own dialogue that supersedes the work they do while others visit. I view the banners, signs, bulletin boards, organization of roles, the distinctives of how communion is served here vs another congregation. All of these aspects of congregational life are the blessings of sacred community. People coming together to be with one another, to understand one another better, to listen, to care, to pray, to be renewed and enlivened by the collective spirit of love and the Holy Spirit of Christ in our midst. What joy to be amongst you.

As I drive home sometimes for hours, I reflect upon the entirety of our sharing; lives, needs, discussions, potential opportunities, insight into lives, those who I have talked with, those I have observed. I pray for your welfare, for the confirming spirit to bless you as you pray, as you actively engage yourselves in ministry and mission. How I wish I could spend more time with you. You have touched my life and I pray I offer you ministry that will be a catalyst in your life to pray, to be vulnerable to the leadings of the spirit, to have courage, to respond and experience joy in the evidence of God at work in your life. These are the conversations I want to have with you upon my return. Thank you for your presence in my life. I ask a blessing upon each of you.

Submitted by Kerry