COVID-19, God Feeds us in the Wilderness of Life – March 25, 2020

When was the last time I took a walk on the Cataraqui Trail, which is a few steps away from our home –  maybe 2018? However, since the COVID-19 restrictions, for the last eleven days, I have been out to the grocery store and pharmacy pickups twice for us and others in the neighbourhood, but I also made time to go for walks when so I can get my blood circulating and get some clarity.

Living through this COVID-19 pandemic seems to teach us lessons that we never thought we needed to learn. I have been doing virtual church with prayers and sermons from my kitchen and posting them on our pastoral charge’s YouTube channel. It feels like I have started a new job and I have not met the congregants yet. We are navigating through uncharted waters.

The other day, I shared with a colleague that this Lenten Season feels like a real experiment of sorts—how to survive the wilderness of life… So, today; I am sharing some of my experiences and lessons I have learned with you, as we journey through this Lenten Season.

The Season of Lent begins with the forty days of Jesus in the wilderness. And, I am not sure how you feel but with this Corona Virus, the whole wide world feels like the wilderness. I am not sure about you, but every night when I watch the news, my heart breaks as tears flow down and my prayer continues to be, “God, may your Protective and Peace filled wings be evident to all—Lord have Mercy”.

We are fortunate where we live as we still have food in our grocery stores, meat at the butcher, and medication at the pharmacies. As I was walking today on the Cataraqui Trail, which used to be railway tracks, I arrived at a creek where living water was running and not only it was soothing the stones but also my soul at the same time… Here is the little video I recorded of that living water…

After recording the water rushing away, I started walking back home. The rugged, uncomfortable terrain of the trail full of pebbles and stones  made me stop and look at the ground closer –  and the words from the Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, from  The Gospel of Matthew came to mind, “Tell these stones to become bread”(4:3 New International Version).  We know what Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

For a split second, these stones on the ground, that I was examining like a geologist or an archeologist, became bread for my soul by the Grace of God. The path became an invitation to a feast amid this time of solitude. These words in Gospel of Matthew is a reminder from Deuteronomy 8:3, “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (ESV). I questioned with gratitude, Can this be? During this, pandemic is my soul being fed in the wilderness of life.

I looked up to the blue sky, and I thanked God for this beautiful natural space where the stones have become food for my soul. I was already on my way back home and I arrived at the spot on the trail where the trees on both sides end and an open-air space with fields lead me home…

As I got to the open field, I realized it got silent, so I took a few steps back where the trees are and stopped, as I heard a symphony of praise, in the middle of my wilderness… There were busy birds, gathering, chattering, and flying from one branch to the other. I did not understand what they said, and I did not see all of them, as the physical presence of the birds was scarce, but it sounded like an army of birds gathering for an evening prayer. It felt like all the birds of the earth had gathered in this little corner and were singing evening chants for the Almighty. (Enjoy this amateur video, it truly does not do justice to the experience of being there with the birds, but I hope it gives you a glimpse of that amazing moment.)

Beloved, this COVID-19 pandemic is truly hitting us hard. The entire world is in turmoil, with the feeling of no way out. Sometimes I wonder if this Sci-Fi movie will end and we will get back to “normal”; whatever that normal was. But I sense that the Universe is forcing our hand to become united more than ever before. I am not sure what the next step is after this storm passes, but I hope and pray that we pay close attention to the blessings we are surrounded by; and when we come out the other side of this isolation, we come out more connected with the Creator and each other more than ever before–remembering that life is not a competition on who is the richest or fittest of all, but how we can pay attention to each other’s needs, feed each other as we are fed and work together to make this world a better place.

Take time to Love God with all your heart, your mind and your soul and Love your neighbour as yourself.

Beloved, Be well, Be patient, Be filled with Peace and remember always – You are NOT alone…

Thanks be to God.

Amen.

One Little Turn can Make a HUGE Difference – January 22, 2020

It is one of those days, where your mind rushes everywhere but your heart is calm and there is Peace beyond measure. Many reports to be written – the life of a minister in January and February of every year. This year it is not just Annual General Meetings’ reports but also student supervision reports for the beautiful student minister I have been accompanying since March 8, 2019. Since my amazing experience with my supervising minister back in 2009, I have wanted to become a supervising minister myself and in 2016, I had the privilege to be able to take … Read more

“You ARE Enough” the Spirit Says – November 21, 2019

One of the Gifts of living in Rural Ontario is living a life without much traffic, however we still drive at least forty-five minutes or so to get to a Regional Council Meeting, medical appointment, hospital visits, etc. I’d rather drive far and listen to something nourishing my spirit than getting stuck in traffic and deal with drivers who are always in a rush causing traffic and accidents. Today was one of those days. Even though I am on a break this week from my daily responsibilities at the two churches I serve, I knew that attending the Regional Council … Read more

Canadian Thanksgiving – October 12, 2019

There is more to Thanksgiving than this one day! There was no Thanksgiving Holiday in Beirut, Lebanon where I was born and lived the first fifteen years of my life. But I still remember the Gratitude that my mother uttered with her whole heart no matter how dark life moments were in that war torn country. I remember that whenever I sighed, she would say, “Daughter, say ‘Thanks be to God. Do not waste your exhalation, like that’”. A funny thing… these days, whenever I sigh and, some days, I sigh more than others, her Spirit whispers, “Say Thanks be … Read more

The Gift of Time – July 28, 2019

Below is an article that was written to honour Doug and Peggy Bond… May it be a blessing and a reminder that whatever we do, we do for the Greater Good… So, offer your Gifts, Talents, Time and Finances to make a difference… ****************************************** Time is a rare and precious commodity that many people do not realize. In the Portland United Church and the greater community of this area, we have a man of faith who has dedicated all his life to the Mission of God, alongside was his late wife. These individuals are Doug Bond and his late wife, … Read more

Days Like These – July 22, 2019

In the song titled, “Nobody Told Me” John Lennon, repeatedly says, “Nobody told me there’d be days like these Nobody told me there’d be days like these Strange days indeed — most peculiar, mama…” These words and the music were playing on my mind and heart when I was driving home from Brockville General Hospital, after being with a congregant who breathed his last breath, on July 15, 2019, surrounded with his family, doctor, nurse, me and The Spirit of Peace. I have not heard this song for a long time, but somehow it popped in my head. Today, a … Read more

Trash or Treasure – June 3, 2019

The late Phyllis Tickle has said, and I believe it is in her book, “The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why” (October 1, 2008) that churches go through great transitions every 300-500 years. It is like purging the attic of a house to see what is worth keeping and what needs to go. In the last few months, the neighbouring United Churches where I live and serve have met twice. Our first meeting was held on March 30th and the second, just a few days ago on June 1. In conversations we had many questions come up: What … Read more

God’s Providence: A Tap on My Shoulder – May 8, 2019  

Today, Wednesday, May 8, 2019, at our V.I.B.E. (Venturing Through Biblical Education) morning gathering, we shared how we each have, and continue to experience God’s Providence in our daily lives in different ways. We have been reading the wonderful book by The Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann titled, “The Bible Makes Sense”. Today’s reading, Chapter 2, talks about how we are fed in the wilderness of life, just like Ancient Israel was fed the Heavenly Manna while they were going through the desert of life to The Promised Land. My Personal AHA moment from this chapter was, now that I am … Read more

Be a Blessing & Be Blessed on this Holy Thursday – April 18, 2019

Holy Thursday reminds us how Jesus is glorified by becoming a servant. Holy Thursday empowers us to love and serve each other as Jesus did. Here are a few pictures from the gathering that took place at Elgin United Church (The Elgin-Portland Pastoral Charge). A Holy Thursday Service of Anointing and Communion. Holy Thursday is A Gathering to Remember Jesus and his disciples around the table of Love, where Jesus washed their feet, shared the Bread of Life and the Cup of the New Covenant sealed with his blood. Here is a prayer that we prayed as a Community of … Read more

Life’s Journey – Returning to My Roots – with New Found Wings

Dear Friends & Family, It seems that it was just yesterday that the sabbatical journey conversations were starting to take place between The Elgin-Portland Pastoral Charge and I, but that was more than eighteen months ago. August 26 marked the last Sunday Worship Celebration for me to officiate in 2018, before beginning this sabbatical journey on September 1. Between planning the trip to Lebanon and Armenia, and balancing curve balls of family duties, I have had the privilege to be with one hundred and seventeen amazing women at Quin-Mo-Lac (A Bay of Quinte Conference / United Church of Canada Sponsored … Read more