Round the Table

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

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night…

As we enter into Advent, we bring to mind the birth of Christ and the mystery of the Incarnation. It’s a time when we become a little more awe-filled with the chaotic, gracious business that is Emmanuel – God-with-us.

When I read over the nativity account from Luke’s Gospel, I’m struck by the proclamation of good news of great joy for all the people. A messenger of God brings the good news of Jesus’ birth to a group of socially-outcast “public sinners”:...

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September 5, 2019

We stood in the hallway of a retreat centre and listened to our instructions. The animator would read us a question. If our answer was yes, we were to take a step forward. If our answer was no, we were to stay where we were.

The animator told us to move forward if this statement was true for us. “When I learn about our Canadian heritage or about ‘civilization’, I am shown that people of my colour made it what it is.”  I stepped forward.

She read: “I can do well in a challenging position without being called ‘a credit to my race’.”  I winced and stepped forward.

We...

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September 5, 2019

I have had a long love affair with Leonard Cohen, or rather, with his words. I furiously read his poems in university; I saw him in concert in 1970, when he came to play in a small indoor hockey rink in Kingston, Ontario; I learned to play “Suzanne” on my guitar, and channelled Cohen’s angst-filled love. I was envious of his time in the Greek Islands, and was determined to do the same, even to the point of taking a year’s worth of evening classes in conversational Greek – but alas, my visit only lasted a couple of months. Just a couple of years ago my spouse got us tickets for Leonard’s...

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September 5, 2019

That our United Church of Canada is undergoing change goes without saying. As generational and demographic experiences of church have shifted, the church has been exploring many matters which centre on diversity and inclusivity.

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September 5, 2019

Everyone loves a carnival, especially if it is free.

That is exactly what North Bramalea United Church in Brampton, Ontario, has offered to the community every second Saturday in July for the last 16 years. On that day, the Lucas Holtom Carnival Day fills a city park behind the church, with area residents — approximately 5,000 this year — coming out to enjoy the event.

“People are amazed at the size of the carnival, and the fact...

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September 5, 2019

What does home mean to you?  Does it include a source of clean water? Perhaps a patch of grass or access to parkland?  Does it include safety and security – it will be there day after day to help keep you safe and secure from the elements? Does it mean connection to larger community or neighbourhood? Does it include a source of livelihood?  As people of faith we have affirmed that we live with respect IN creation, that “we cherish and respect the diversity of life and celebrate the beauty of the Earth. For us as members of one family, love and caring are the basis of our relationships with...

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September 5, 2019

I have run in the intense heat of Ontario summers and the deep cold of Arctic winters, but if I am ever asked about the perfect day for running, what will come to mind is this past weekend in Toronto. Cool but not cold, with the sky deep blue and yellow and orange leaves on the ground and still clinging to tree branches.  

On these glorious late fall days, the words from Isaiah 65 in this week’s lectionary passage feel so right.

…. Be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.

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September 5, 2019

My visit to Jakarta, Indonesia, to take part in the Amplify 16 Conference, has been an eye-opening experience.

On the opening day I offered the morning keynote address at an LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning) symposium. It was hosted by the Jakarta Theological Seminary, one of only two LGBT-affirming seminaries in Asia. When seminary principal Stephen Suleeman invited me to the conference, he explained that many Indonesian...

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September 5, 2019

These are my blessings: seven adopted First Nations children that have chosen me as their mom. Our family has included many children, including White, Asian, transgender, Two Spirit, and more. As a family we choose to celebrate our differences and learn from each other. Sadly, we have seen many who do not share our beliefs that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

I have learned much from my diverse family. From my birth children who chose to share...

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September 5, 2019

The stories of Jesus often make me uncomfortable.

We - Grandma and two of the grandsons - were rushing towards Safeco Field to see the Toronto Blue Jays play the Seattle Mariners. The delay at the border had been long, traffic had been heavy, the shuttle was overbooked and the hotel was a distance from the ballpark.

We were scurrying. All hope of seeing batting practice had been abandoned; the goal now was simply not to miss the first pitch.

Not only has the yearly journey with the grandsons to see the Blue Jays and Mariners become a semi-sacred yearly ritual but...