Summer 2023 Newsletter – Grace United Church

“Life is short. We do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who journey the way with us.
So be swift to love and make haste to be kind.”
Henri-Frédéric Amiel

Dear Grace United Church,

Marcus J. Borg, a wonderful theologian, teacher, and lecturer, passed away in 2015, but the above words from Henri-Frédéric Amiel, which Borg used at the conclusion of almost every event, still ring true to my mind and heart. They make Borg’s memory a blessed one to me, personally.

Today, as I type this short reflection from my heart, my mind is racing like a horse to tell you all the wonderful and encouraging words I have heard at the Festival of Homiletics in Minneapolis, Minn. (week of May 14) and the Annual General Meeting of our Regional Council (E.O.O.R.C. May 26-27), because I am deeply inspired, encouraged and strengthened to carry on the Mission of God in this weary world through our Community of Faith and beyond our walls. I know that I cannot capture two weeks of learning and living into a page or two. So, I invite you to think of this question:

What gives you courage in this weary world to carry on? 

One of the speakers at the Festival of Homiletics reminded us of Rahab, a prostitute who helped Ancient Israel to conquer Canaan. The preacher, The Rev. Dr. Anna Carter Florence, shared with us the fact that God used such a woman, from the margins of life, to save God’s People gives us Hope. This prostitute knew more about the God of Israel than Israel knew and believed. Rahab knew that the God of Israel has been at work more than the Israelites did.

Beloved, many times Israel wanted to go back to slavery because they were lost in the desert and did not realize that the difficulties in the wilderness actually were a time of growth and transformation.

It is said that Rahab lived at the edges of the wall of the city. So, she was literally at the margins of life. However, even in the edges of life, she saw the Truth of the Living God of Ancient Israel. What is even more interesting that this woman from the margins of life is the second female name recorded in the Genealogy of the Gospel of Matthew, in the New Testament, confirming to the audience that Rahab’s story in Joshua 2, Old Testament, is not an allegory but TRUTH.

Beloved, today, I am not writing these words just to fill in the pages of this newsletter or have something to do in my busy schedule – I am writing these words to remind us of two things.

First, Rahab reminds us to live a life beyond walls and fears. God can and will use anyone, everyone and everything in life to transform this world to the better, whether we are willing or not.

Second, as Rev. Florence said, and I paraphrase – Jericho is stuck in the permeance of their status quo, but Rahab knows that a change is coming, and she knows that moving away from the status quo is not a threat; and she rewrites her life with courage and faith.

Beloved, Grace United Church, everyone is searching for that change to the better in the world, but as our Regional Council’s theme for the AGM (May 26-27) reminded us, through our General Secretary, the Rev. Michael Blair, that Being Courageous Community requires: Deep Spirituality, Bold Discipleship, Daring Justice.

Today, I invite you to make time to deepen your spirituality, live boldly the fact that you are a disciple of Jesus, and dare to bring justice everywhere you are found, because those three will help you and all of us to live with Hope in a weary world. 

May we go where God is calling us to go, as we move forward and not be afraid to learn from the margins of life, because that is where Faith becomes the eyes of our souls and Hope becomes the wings that help us move forward with Peace and Joy. Bless everyone who comes your way as God blesses you with every breath you take and every move you make. Amen.  

Your Servant-Leader,
Rev. Takouhi Demirdjian-Petro
B.A., B.Th., M.Div.

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