The Licenced Lay Worship Leaders of OUC offer an opportunity to begin Easter morning with a joyful celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. Join them for an informal worship service followed by an Easter Breakfast from 8:45 – 9:30 (breakfast tickets available from the church office).
The Passion Story continues on this day as we gather at 10am to lament. We will hear the story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion told from the perspective of many of those who, we are told, were there. Come lay your burdens and your grief at the foot of the cross as we prepare to wait once more for the Resurrection and its promise of new life in Christ.
On Holy Thursday we gather for a meditative time of remembrance. Through song and scripture, we will remember Jesus’ last night with his followers. This time of reflection and prayer will include a ritual of hand washing, Holy Communion around the table, and a chance to prepare our hearts for the days to come.
SOCIAL MEDIA SUNDAY This Sunday we will be exploring the various ways we can engage our faith using social media – and we’ll be doing so in worship! So charge up your tablets and phones, and bring them to church! You’ll be amazed at the ways you can use your devices to enhance your faith experience and to spread God’s goodness.
Activities Around Our Church
If you require financial assistance to participate in any OUC program, please contact Rev. Molly.
COMMON VISION PROJECT On Tuesday February 28, 2:30 pm, Ron Klusmeier (United Church musician and hymn-writer) will be holding a meeting here at OUC to promote his Common Vision Project in support of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFB). This 90-minute meeting is designed to encourage local church and other groups to hold concerts to raise funds and awareness for the CFB. All are welcome. For more information go to http://foodgrainsbank.ca/campaigns/commonvision/or see the poster on the bulletin board in the Hall.
GIVE IT UP FOR THE EARTH! (a new campaign by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) for Lent 2017) will signal to the government that Canadians – especially Canadian Christians – are prepared to make lifestyle changes in order to reduce our GHG emissions. And we want our government to match and exceed these actions with policy changes that will move us further and faster towards international climate change goals. Climate change is a tremendous challenge for the global community. Many see it as the critical issue of our time. This year, we invite Canadians to Give it up for the Earth! from March 1 to April 13. Give it up for the Earth! is centred on a postcard that includes a pledge to individual climate action as well as a call for more far-reaching national climate policy measures. Completed postcards will be returned to CPJ for delivery to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna. The early church looked to Jesus’ example and developed a practice of fasting during the 40 days leading up to Easter. This practice has evolved over the years and many Christians now mark Lent by “giving up” a bad habit or distracting practice. This symbolic sacrifice provides space to reflect and refocus, tune-in to our Christian calling, and renew our commitment to God. Please join us and Give it up for the Earth! as part of your Lenten journey.
THURSDAYS IN MARCH Rev. Caroline will be offering a Lunch & Learn series on the UCC study called That We May Know Each Other: United Church-Muslim Relations Today. Starts March 2. Time: 11:30 – 12:45. Location: OUC Library. *Bring Your Lunch.
OUC BOOK CLUB meets Tuesday February 28, 1 pm in the Church Library to discuss The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. All are welcome. For more information, contact Annemarie Humenuk (firstname.lastname@example.org).
LADIES RETREAT at Camp Merrywood, April 28 – 30 “150 Years of Women in the Church”. Registration begins March 19th. For more information please contact Joan at email@example.com.
CAMP AWESOME It’s time to mark your calendars! Dates for our week of Vacation Bible School, Camp Awesome, have been confirmed. OUC will be hosting a day camp for 4-12 year olds on Tuesday July 4 to Friday July 7, 2017. Due to the shortened week (Monday is Canada Day), camp will have extended hours this year, running from 9:30 am to 4 pm daily. We hope this change in timing will allow more children to participate! It is always a week of fun, laughter, crafts, food, songs, and friends. Please share the news, invite your friends, and get ready for an awesome week! Registration forms will be available after Easter. You can contact Rev. Molly if you have any questions.
URGENT NEED FOR CONFIRMATION MENTORS We are still looking for 4 adults who would feel called to spend time one-on-one with a young person from our congregation as part of the youth confirmation program. Time commitment is 8 one-hour sessions over the course of 13 weeks (time and location to fit into your schedule). This mentor relationship has proven to be the most valuable and meaningful part of our confirmation program – we have eager and wonderful teens but still need caring adults to make it happen. Please prayerfully consider your ability to respond so we have adults in place by February 28. Contact Rev. Molly for details.
LENTEN SERIES The Society of St. James the Evangelist, a monastic ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada and Episcopal church USA are offering a 6-week Lenten Series called “The 5 Marks of Love” (5marksoflove.org). The series begins February 26th and is designed for use by individuals and small groups. This could be a good resource for those of you seeking to engage in a dedicated, daily Lenten practice.
CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT EXCHANGE If you would like to clear some storage space at your house or refresh your Christmas decorations, we have a deal for you!! A Christmas ornament exchange will take place after church on March 12 in the hall. You can donate one or more ornaments (lights, decorations, tree ornaments etc.), take one or more or do both – no money involved! Donations will be accepted from March 5 to 12 and can be placed in the bin near the blue OUC BuyNothing bin in the coat rack hallway. For more information, contact Annemarie Humenuk (firstname.lastname@example.org).
2016 FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS OVERSIGHT My presentation of 2016 Financial Highlights at February 12th’s Annual Congregational Meeting failed to mention the enormous financial contributions of the many external groups who rent our space. Use & Occupancy revenue from the Seventh Day Adventists, choirs, dance classes and numerous other community groups provided OUC with almost $60,000 revenue in 2016. That’s a significant figure compared to offerings, $300,000, and fundraising, $41,000. We really appreciate these groups’ patronage of our space! — Alex Mirhady
CHRISTIANITY 101! A Lenten study will look at Rowan William’s book Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer. In this book, the former Archbishop of Canterbury “entices us all to go deeper by reviewing the basics”. The book can be ordered at Chapters, and our first meeting will take place after the Ash Wednesday service on March 1. Thereafter the group will meet each Wednesday from 7:30-9:00 p.m., probably for five weeks total. Please contact Shirley or Peter Holt to register for the course (email@example.com, 613.841.5143).
CAREGIVER: TAKE A BREAK! This 8 week get together will run Tuesday afternoons from 1:30 – 3 pm, April 4 – May 23 at OUC. With fun, laughter, food, and a guest speaker, we hope to provide you with a relaxing and informative break from caregiving. For more information and/or to register, please contact Heather McGrath (firstname.lastname@example.org, 613.830.7652). Last date for registration is March 20.
A MOMENT FOR GRATITUDE The Interchurch Refugee Group has just completed the 1-year sponsorship of a Syrian family of 6. The congregation of Orleans United has played an integral role in supporting this family, and Abdulrahman, the father of the family, asked for the opportunity to express his appreciation. Here are some excerpts from the remarks he made at church on Feb. 5.
“After leaving my country of origin and settling in another country for three years, I was very worried about my children’s future. I finally felt that doors of hope started to open once again for me and my family when Canadians sponsored us. In Ottawa, we started a brand new life with brand new hopes when we met our group members for the first time. They helped us from the first step. They helped us settle and bring back smiles to our children, gave us strength and helped us plan our children’s future. It’s very hard to find words to express our appreciation. My family and I would like to thank the group members and volunteers from the bottom of our hearts for their precious help. Thank you very much. “
RELAY FOR LIFE The OUC Relay for Life team is at it again. If you are interested in joining in on this great cause, please email Sarah Benfield (email@example.com, 613.868.4633). Let’s take the word Cancer out of the world! Want to join right away? You can sign up here: http:// convio.cancer.ca/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFL_ON_odd_?team_id=356262&pg=team&fr_id=22439
PANCAKE SUPPER Tuesday February 28 (Shrove Tuesday) from 5 – 6 pm, come one, come all, to enjoy Peter’s Perfect Pancakes, served by 8thOrleans Scout Group. Tickets are: children $4.00, adults $6.00, family $20.00, and will be available at coffee hour, and also at the door. Don’t miss it!
WE LOVE COFFEE TIME! After service every Sunday there is always a large social gathering in the Hall sipping coffee, tea or juice, eating muffins, joining in lively conversation and enjoying each other’s company! Check out the sign-up sheet on the wall right beside the coffee urn. Mike and Lin will be happy to assist you as needed (firstname.lastname@example.org, 613.837.6720).
OUC YOUTH TRIVIA NIGHT IV Saturday April 1, doors open at 7:15 pm. The event kicks off at 7:30 pm. Expect an evening of fun as you compete in groups of 6 – 8. Fabulous door prizes to be won! You will be competing for the most valuable prize of all, the Parsche Cup. Tickets are $20 per person and include admission to this exclusive event, snacks prepared by the youth, fabulous door prizes and VIP parking. The Youth are looking for door prizes for the event. If you have any connections or prizes to donate, please contact Sarah Benfield (email@example.com) or Michael Parsche (firstname.lastname@example.org).
CD of SUNDAY WORSHIP Audio recordings (CD) of Sunday worship are available- just ask at the audio-visual room at the rear of the Sanctuary any Sunday. A $5/disk donation helps with our costs.
GENTLE YOGA at OUC from March 7 to April 25, visit www.sandyjonesyoga.com
ONE IN THE SPIRIT “One In the Spirit” this week features an interview with Alison Sales in her role as the lead for “Joyful Yarn” and their unique outreach. It is a wonderful experience to listen to and watch Alison in action as she prepares one of the 40 blankets that this group makes for their outreach. You can catch the video on the Orleans United Church Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpKmDnHNhwU. Next week, Heather McGrath will be featured. She will be talking about the upcoming “Caregivers Workshop” to be held in April and May. You don’t want to miss that interview. If you have any suggestions for future “One In the Spirit” programs, please contact Kim at the office or David Clemis at email@example.com.
WORLD DAY OF PRAYER Friday March 3, 2 pm. St. Helen’s Anglican Church, 1234 Prestone Dr., will be hosting the annual service, prepared this year by women of the Philippines. All are welcome.
PRESBYTERY POINT TO PONDER Presbytery meetings are usually called to order at 6:30 p.m. in English, French, and with an acknowledgement of the Algonquin land we are on.
WANTED: CRAFTS OF ALL KINDS Save the date: OUC’s Christmas Bazaar takes place on November 18 this year. Santa’s elves are already hard at work, and they need your help! What makes our bazaar special is the wide range of fine handicrafts on display, and they all come from you, the talented members of our congregation. Whatever your crafting passion may be — sewing, quilting, woodworking, knitting, crochet, paper crafts, jewellery, or something else unique and wonderful — please keep OUC’s 2017 Christmas Bazaar in mind.
CRAFT KITS IN THE HALL We’re back, with a selection of new take-home knitting and crochet kits for the bazaar! Come and see what’s available in the hall after service this Sunday. Each kit contains a pattern and enough yarn to make one or two items from it. When you have finished your project, you can bring it back to the bazaar table in the Hall or leave it in the Office, attention Ann Thacker. That way we can keep track of inventory and price things well in advance of the busy season. Thanks for your help!
MEN’S BREAKFAST Please join OUC men every Wednesday morning, 7 am at Gabriel’s Pizza on St. Joseph Blvd. for wide ranging, informative, enthusiastic discussions of upcoming Bible readings.
ASSISTED LISTENING Those requiring assistance with hearing the service may use any portable FM radio with headphones to listen to our worship service. We are transmitting on 95.7 Mhz.
PARKING A reminder that parking is allowed on Orleans Blvd. (in front of the church) on Sunday mornings.
LIBRARY NEWS Win a $20 Tim Horton’s card, just in time for Christmas 2017. Just 10 more months to go! Whoever signs out and reads the most OUC library books by Dec 15 wins. Enjoyed one of the books? Please write up a brief overview and submit it to Kim. We will put it in the bulletin to encourage others to read it.
Community Outreach Ministries
FOOD BANK FOCUS FOR FEBRUARY Protein: canned tuna, chicken, ham, salmon, corned beef, beans, lentils, peanut butter, cheese whiz, olive oil. Baby food & diapers. Feminine products.
CENTRE 507 is a drop-in program for women and men in downtown Ottawa, operating out of Centretown United Church, at 507 Bank Street, which continues to need our support. In particular toiletries, regular ground coffee and jam are needed. Contributions can be placed in the marked container in the parking lot entranceway.
EMAIL PRAYER MINISTRY Are you interested in participating in our congregation’s confidential email prayer ministry? Contactouc.firstname.lastname@example.org. You can ask to join the team and receive prayer requests, or simply make prayer requests for yourself or others.
GIFT CARD FUNDRAISING TABLE Grocery gift cards are sold in the Hall each Sunday and in the Church Office. Cards are available for Superstore/Independent/No Frills, Metro/Food Basics, Farm Boy, Tim Hortons and Sobeys. There is no additional cost to you, and the church receives a percentage for each card we sell. We still have some Tim Horton gift cards in $5, $10 and $25 denominations as well as Loblaws and Metro in $25 denominations.
RONA CARDS Pick up a discount card at the fundraising table or use our account number OUC148120 at RONA and you will receive 5% off your purchase and the church will make the equivalent 5%!
BOSTON PIZZA ORLEANS, CHURCH REBATE PROGRAM OUC will receive 10% rebate on all Boston Pizza purchases (before taxes). Please write “Orleans United Church” on your receipts and deposit them in the box at the hostess stand in the restaurant.
This Week At a Glance
Monday February 27 Scouting, 4 pm
Tuesday February 28 Book Club – Library, 1 pm
Common Vision Project – Sanctuary, 2:30 pm
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper – Hall, 5 pm
Bridge – Lounge, 7:15 pm
Wednesday March 1 Men’s Breakfast – Gabriel’s Pizza, 7 am
Ash Wednesday service – Sanctuary, 7 pm
Thursday March 2 Java Jive – Library, 10 am
C.S.T. – Lounge, 7 pm
Choir – Sanctuary, 7:30 pm
Friday March 3 Coffee & Conversation – Library, 9 am
Youth Group – Lounge, 7 pm
Sermon on Matthew 5: 1-12 – January 29, 2017
By Rev. Caroline Penhale
You is kind, you is smart, you is important! In the film, “The Help”, these are the words of blessing that Aibeleen, a black maid in Jackson, Mississippi bestows upon Mae Mobley, the little girl in her care. Little Mae has been hurt time and again by her mother and Aibeleen wants her to have the blessing that she knows all children must have to thrive: the unconditional love and approval of an elder, a parental figure, of someone in authority over us. In the movie, when Aibellen is fired from the employ of Mae’s parents, she reminds Mae Mobley of her affirmation one last time: You is kind, you is smart, you is important!
My mother’s best friend Marie, who had a generosity of spirit about her that was infectious, blessed people in a similar way. She used to say, “T’es belle, t’es fine and je t’aime”. You are beautiful, you are good and I love you. Take a moment to remember and give thanks for those people who gave this gift to you…On a personal note, I anticipate the ways we will work together to embody those living words together for our community.
Where Christians are gathering this weekend, and if they follow the cycle of Scriptures proscribed in the Lectionary, the familiarity of this passage from the Gospel of Matthew confronts us again. So let’s ask this question: how do we understand Jesus’ context for the word “blessed”? What did he mean?
Jesus spoke Aramaic and the scribe translated the Aramaic words into Greek many decades later. The closest Greek equivalent to the Aramaic is Makarios. In English, we translate this word as happy, fortunate, or prosperous. There is another way to come at this word that I like a bit better as it gets at a deeper connotation of “blessed”. It is the word “honourable”. (David Ewart) Especially in the Ancient World’s shame and honour culture, it makes sense to me to think of blessed in this text as honoured or even honourable.
And there’s another proposed translation from the Greek that resonates with me today. It’s “unconditional love”…“Unconditional love.” Molly and I shared this with the children earlier. Unconditional love. As children of God, God blessed us all with unconditional love. Everyone. Everyone. According to David Lose,
“to be blessed feels like you have someone’s unconditional regard. It feels like you are not and will not be alone, like you will be accompanied wherever you go. Being blessed feels like you have the capacity to rise above present circumstances, … Being blessed feels like you have worth — not because of something you did or might do, but simply because of who you are, simply because you deserve it.”
(David Lose, Working Preacher, 2014)
In Grade 6, at Blessed Sacrament Elementary, I had both the privilege and terror of being taught by Sister Beatrice, a French-Canadian nun and a force to be reckoned with. Sister B, as we called her, loved teaching our religion class every morning. I learned about devotion and ritual and prayer. I was taught that God loved me, but how that love was understood in my 11-year-old brain often left me feeling guilty, or unworthy and like I had to earn God’s love and approval. I remember learning the Beatitudes and feeling that only very special people, saints perhaps, could be blessed like this. I didn’t think I stood much of a chance at being pure at heart and I had yet to experience the hard things of life that teach you about mourning. Despite this, it was then, in that classroom, that I learned that God loved me.
The Beatitudes. The structure of this passage follows a literary pattern that is also seen in the Psalms and in Wisdom literature like Proverbs. Each verse contains two sections that are joined together by the word “for”. For example, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. In our Java Jive discussion on Thursday, we talked about whether this “for” really meant because and indicated a cause and effect relationship. If so, “for” implies “because”. Ex: Blessed are the pure in heart because they will see God.
If we go with “because” then we are saying that a person would be blessed because they were meek, or pure of heart. And the unspoken meaning would be that blessing would be withheld to those who failed to live up to this standard. That interpretation, though, rings of earning our salvation and earning God’s blessing, which is in sharp contrast to a Reform theology of Grace. It is by God’s Grace that we are saved, Paul assures us.
What then are we to make of these beatitude formulations? Many of the commentaries I consulted would remind us of how much Jesus loved to teach in reversals. In parables. In riddles. Jesus likes to turn ideas on their head and teach in such a way that people were shaken from complacency. In this early part of this Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asserts that blessing with be conferred on those that society would rarely deem blessed, happy, or honourable. In this way, Jesus, is lifting up the outcast ones, the dishonourable ones, and even the ones who are persecuted for following in Jesus way and saying “See these people? See those who mourn – likely widows and orphans who have been left destitute? The impoverished in spirit? They will be blessed and theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Note that Jesus does not say that others won’t also be blessed. He is ensuring that those who would not normally get a seat at the table are invited to the banquet. Jesus is making sure that there is room for everyone in his vision of a heavenly kingdom. Catholic Liberation Theologians call this Jesus’ preferential option for the poor. “Living with a preferential option for the poor means constantly looking around and wondering who we have left out so that we can find ways to bring them in.” (Emily Kahm) Jesus makes sure that everyone is seen as worthy of God’s blessing.
Now if the unconditional love and blessing of God wasn’t good news enough, there’s more! Jesus also declares that even amidst despair, or grief, or abandonment, hatred and persecution, we are all God’s beloved and we are blessed. The Celts would call these seasons in our lives “thin places” where we draw closer to God and are keenly aware of our need of God. It is in that knowing and in the drawing close, that we feel God’s blessing more acutely. So blessed are the persecuted and reviled for they depend more on their connection to God.
As baptized folks gathered in a church congregation, we are called, as disciples, to live into Jesus’ Kingdom vision and to work for flourishing and justice for all people and for all Creation. There is a sense of calling, of possibility and of becoming in this morning’s text. For even as God loves us unconditionally and bestows upon us blessing, God also invites us to live more and more fully into the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.
And it’s messy business because we live within human systems and structures that are unjust. It is virtually impossible to be engaged in justice making and at the same time be morally pure. Those who advocate for leaving fossil fuels in the ground, for example, are often criticized for being consumers of fossil fuels. Their credibility gets called into question because they don’t “have their own house in order” when it comes to living without the benefit of fossil fuels. Or we can be told that we don’t have the credibility to participate in a march. Or we can be discouraged from speaking out about an issue because we don’t have it all together yet. And therein lies a danger: we can be silenced or paralyzed in our efforts to work for peace and justice in this world because we fear being called out for not being pure enough, consistent enough, or righteous enough.
When Jesus shared this “sermon on the mount”, he didn’t have a security scanner at the foot of the mountain so that only those who were pure enough, consistent enough, or righteous enough could hear his words. Many of those who followed Jesus were labeled not worthy by the dominant political culture. Jesus didn’t see it that way, about them, and he doesn’t see it that way about us.
Friends, trust that you are good enough. Worthy enough. Loved enough. Know that, no matter what, as a child of God, you have God’s blessing. Let that encourage you to make room at the table for those at the margins.
So what do we do with these Beatitudes today in our world? The Beatitudes call us to speak out. Let us not be paralyzed into inaction or silenced because we fear we are not good enough, or spiritual enough. What they call hypocritical, we know is just the messiness of humanity. And that messiness should not keep us quiet or passive. We are called, in all our messiness, as children of God, to strive for the coming of the kingdom of God here on earth. That is our collective work as Christian community. I know you’ve been doing this work and I so look forward to engaging in that work with Molly and with you all in our ministry together here at Orleans United Church. In all circumstances, we can be assured that we are held in God’s unconditional love. We are worthy. We are blessed. Remember this, and then hear God calling us into action and into fullness: into a time of when supreme love and justice will reign. So let us rejoice and be glad, for ours is the kingdom of God! Thanks be to God. Amen.