Round the Table

Sharing stories of life, faith, and ministry in the United Church and beyond.

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December 15, 2017

As the season of Advent began, I found myself singing the song, “Come Down Jesus” made famous by Jose Feliciano some years ago. It is not necessarily an Advent song, but the statement in the song “Jesus, you won’t believe the things you see today,” caught my attention. During Advent we remember that the God we worship is the God who comes to us. In the Season of Advent, we acknowledge that God comes to us in every circumstance of our lives. However, when God comes, what will God find? What will God find in our world, and...

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December 11, 2017

I’ve been blessed on several occasions to have heard and read the beautifully articulated words of Mardi Tindal, former moderator of The United Church of Canada, as she has reflected on her participation in United Nations (UN) climate conferences. I’ve been inspired by her compassion, her conviction, and her unwavering commitment to hopeful prayer and action in the face of “among the most urgent spiritual and moral challenges of our day.”

I am now just back from the 2017 UN climate conference, COP23, which took place from November 6-18 in Bonn, Germany, under the leadership of...

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December 8, 2017

Setsuko Thurlow, a long-time United Church member who is also a survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, will receive the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in Oslo on December 10.

Joining Setsuko in receiving the award, one of the most grassroots Nobel prizes ever awarded, will be Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN. “...

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December 6, 2017

Blackmail. Blackhearted. Black as sin. Washed white as snow. Over time, in our English language, we have become accustomed to equating evil as black, and purity as white. Even the dictionary adds credence to this. One dictionary defines “black” as “without any moral quality or goodness; evil; wicked.” The same dictionary defines “white” as “morally pure; innocent” (from dictionary.com). Similar definitions exist for the words “light” and “dark.”

Our ingrained – and at times binary – notions of black/white and darkness/light as inherently good and evil can guide how we...

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November 30, 2017

As an Aboriginal Ministries Council member in The United Church of Canada, I am often asked to attend meetings or events that address issues important to Indigenous communities of faith. Recently, I attended the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Edmonton. When I went there, I knew it would be difficult, but my partner, Charlene, and I wanted to be there to support our relatives. I knew I would have many emotions because this issue is so close to my heart. This is especially important for my partner because she had a sister, Phyllis, whose...

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November 28, 2017

The band U2 has some inspiring lyrics in their songs, and the song “Grace” is one of the best. Grace is a concept that many people of faith struggle with, but for me, the line “She carries the world on her hips” shows a hopeful way of looking at caring for the world.

Grace was my starting place for the Giving Tuesday prayer. For many people, Christmas can be very stressful and I must admit that it’s my least favourite time of year! Yet,...

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December 11, 2017

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated annually on December 3. This year, the day coincides with the first Sunday of Advent, when we traditionally celebrate a theme of hope.

Several years ago, I found hope when I was wrestling with questions of theology and disability. I was working with a diverse group of people with disabilities, caregivers, and allies; we were talking about disability and theology. The United Church had already committed to becoming an “open, accessible, and barrier-free...

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November 27, 2017

Growing up in Southwestern Ontario, I always knew that I had been adopted and I took pride in that. My parents assured me that they loved me so much that they had chosen me! What could be better? I felt lucky. I was raised by two loving parents who taught me that I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be. But it was in growing up and going into ministry that taught me there was a lot more to my adoption than just being picked by two people I now call mom and dad.

You see, my birth mom had three children and I was put up for adoption. She...

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November 22, 2017

The resuscitation of the church implies we are seeing things declining and so we seek to apply life support systems to prolong life. Resuscitation talk occurs when we are wanting to go back to the so called “good old days.” The thing about resuscitation is that there is the tacit acknowledgement that death will eventually happen, and we are only seeking to prolong what we have for a little longer. Resurrection, however, points to a different reality.

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November 22, 2017

I would not be who I am, without camps.

My first foray with camps was in 1999, when I joined the team at Sherbrooke Lake Camp in Nova Scotia as a Counsellor-in-Training. Like most 15-year-olds, my mom had to convince me to do most things that were good for me – and that included camping. I was one of those quiet kids who had zero self-confidence and frankly, I didn't "get" the church. I attended with my mom for as early as I remember so it was part of my Sunday routine. But it was after my first summer of camp that I...