Pastoral Coffee Time Tuesdays at 2pm

Join us this Tuesday at 2pm!
Anyone who wants to check in with us, catch up a bit, have a tea or coffee is welcome to link up and join in. We’d love to hear how you’re doing, pray for you, and take time to connect.

April 7, 2020, 2, PM
April 14, 2020, 2 PM
April 21, 2020, 2 PM
April 28, 2020, 2 PM
May 5, 2020, 2 PM

Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.
Weekly: zoom.us/meeting/tZ0vf-6hqDsvZu8jegP1eroTs4esQ1bvbw…

Join Zoom Meeting
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Meeting ID: 892 879 605
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Join us in worship remotely on April 5

Palm Sunday Service – April 5
Palm Sunday worship with a message for the whole family (adults and children) and music provided by our youth band, Nathan, Jordan and Cherie.

Please note, the donation link in the youtube video is still not working correctly, to support our ministry, please click on this link: DONATE HERE or send your cheque to Trinity at 10014 81 Ave NW, Edmonton, T6E 1W8.

We invite you to visit our Worship Section for previous Sunday Services and Lenten Devotions. Thank you.

Supporting children (and parents)

Hearing about the pandemic can create anxieties in children. Plus, many families are now cooped up together all day. We have some general resources for you, plus faith-related resources:

o Godly Play story videos with suggested questions and activities: “The Faces of Easter” is told in three videos and leads us from the birth of Jesus, through his life, death and resurrection. In each one, children are encouraged to find items at home to help to tell the story. In the last video, children are also invited to do their work, which is a response to the story. Our children haven’t been introduced to that term but their work is how they take time to reflect and respond to the story they have heard. This could be retelling the story, writing, using art materials, or even just thinking about what they have heard. (To receive a link to the videos, please contact the church office.)

o Talking to your children about Covid-19: This article has some good tips for talking to kids of all ages. Additionally, the health updates from Dr. Deena Hinshaw can be helpful for older kids, either the portions of the video where she is speaking, or reading the transcripts together. For kids who do better with concrete information, this is a good source.

o Breath Prayers (from Pastor Eileen): This might be a great time to teach and learn breath prayers. I know that my child has had lots of questions and some increased anxiety—breath prayers are a great way to help quiet some of that anxiety and connect with God. Here is a link that might be helpful if this is something you would like to explore.

Pastoral Coffee Time Tuesdays at 2pm


Join us this Tuesday at 2pm!
Anyone who wants to check in with us, catch up a bit, have a tea or coffee is welcome to link up and join in. We’d love to hear how you’re doing, pray for you, and take time to connect.

March 31, 2020, 2 PM
April 7, 2020, 2 PM
April 14, 2020, 2 PM
April 21, 2020, 2 PM
April 28, 2020, 2 PM
May 5, 2020, 2 PM

Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.
Weekly: zoom.us/meeting/tZ0vf-6hqDsvZu8jegP1eroTs4esQ1bvbw…

Join Zoom Meeting
zoom.us/j/892879605?pwd=NEx1RmdVMkhlNzluVFBKY2FGbX…

Meeting ID: 892 879 605
Password: 699220

“Living with arms wide open”

David Rust commenting on “Radical Welcome” by Stephanie Spellers – CHURCH PUBLISHING INC. Kindle Edition.

I am proposing the following format to get discussion started on this blog. I will summarize in a few sentences a section of the book “Radical Welcome” and then add a few questions or comments of my own. Then, after you have read the same section, you are invited to post your comments on this blog related to the section of the book being discussed. I’d appreciate it if we avoided stating an opinion without knowing the context of the comments from the book. I trust that as we consider the book, we all remain open to the to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to possibly lead us to new insights rather than simply restating what we believed on the topic prior to reading the book. And so……

Pages 41 – 49: “Living with arms wide open”

“So much of our time in church is spent maintaining and protecting: buildings, doctrines, traditions, plans, expectations […]. But what if that is not our call at all? What if […] the love of Christ is actually supposed to free us, to make us imaginative and resilient and fearless enough to go wherever the God of transformation would have us go? What if closing the door to change, something we might have done out of love for our traditions and communities, actually closes the door to the Spirit of God?
Does this mean anything goes, that God revels in chaos? Absolutely not. For millennia Christians have spoken of God’s plan to draw all of creation back into union with the divine will. That requires movement. And movement of any kind is change. If our natural orientation, or certainly the orientation of our institutions, is to resist change and movement, then something has to give […].God needs a free church that defines itself as a community of humble, courageous, flexible disciples who are truly willing to surrender all. Why? Because God is a God of surprises, and our best posture in following and serving God is one of openness and receptivity.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Even for those who dropped their nets and followed Christ, the spiritual practice of staying open to God and open to The Other was far from intuitive. In Acts 11, some circumcised believers confronted Peter, frustrated that uncircumcised Gentiles had been accepted as part of the community. To ease their anxiety, he relates the story of his own dramatic conversion and opening. Once, in a dream, he saw unclean animals spread on a sheet coming down from heaven, and heard God commanding him to kill and eat the beasts. He dutifully replied, “By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” The reply came from heaven: “What God has made clean, you must not call profane” (Acts 11: 8-9). At that very moment, he awakened to find several Gentiles at his door, begging him to come and baptize a Gentile household in Casearea [sic]. He knew the message from God was about freedom: the freedom to go to this household, the freedom to trust that the Holy Spirit was already there, the freedom to be as radically welcoming as God.”

David’s comments:

I was particularly caught by the example of Peter ….. a devout Jew, absolutely certain that the Hebrew Scriptures called for NOT eating certain animals – that these were absolutely unclean and forbidden. Yet God himself stated, ‘Never consider unclean what God has made pure.’ (Common English Bible). What an uproar must have surged through Peter’s mind and spirit at this dream.

Beyond that, Peter used this dream as an example of God’s new expectations; expectations that the early church should expand to allow the “unclean” Gentiles into the church. Peter expected the early church to turn their Jewish training and tradition upside down, at first, only on the basis of Peter’s dream!

Think of it! If a preacher today stated something similar, there would be lots of controversy!

I wonder what conversations the early church had over this new revelation?! Did they feel they were letting down their background by being open to the possibility God was actually telling them something new? Did they think Peter spoke with the voice of God, or as a misguided fool? And yet we know that the early church did change to allow “the Other” into it.

Radical, indeed!

Your thoughts?

David

“The Dream of God”

David Rust commenting on “Radical Welcome” by Stephanie Spellers – CHURCH PUBLISHING INC. Kindle Edition.

I am proposing the following format to get discussion started on this blog. I will summarize in a few sentences a section of the book “Radical Welcome” and then add a few questions or comments of my own. Then, after you have read the same section, you are invited to post your comments on this blog related to the section of the book being discussed. I’d appreciate it if we avoided stating an opinion without knowing the context of the comments from the book. I trust that as we consider the book, we all remain open to the to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to possibly lead us to new insights rather than simply restating what we believed on the topic prior to reading the book. And so……

Pages 29 – 40: “The Dream of God”

“Why are congregations […] becoming radically welcoming? Why should any of us risk transformation? Quite simply because God did it first. From the beginning, God has been about the business of creating, reshaping, and making things new. The record of Scripture is filled with images of a God who turns things upside-down in order to get them right-side up, and creates something from what would seem to be nothing.
A warning: the new thing God is bringing to life is not “new” in the way we so often understand and fear it to be […]. “God is changing things so that they finally reflect the dream of God. It will be new to us, but it is merely the fulfillment of what God intended all along.” [Bishop Michael Curry]
And change they do. Jesus’ whole ministry — the whole account of God’s human life among us — is that of one who honors his tradition, but will not be bound by it if the dream of God demands something else.
And [Jesus] knew, as we struggle to acknowledge, that there is no way to have the dream without the transformation. The point is not to slog away in maintenance mode or to sit on the sidelines, pining for what was. The God of transformation invites us to “be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating” (Isaiah 65: 18). God yearns for us to be part of this new creation and to rejoice in its unfolding.
God invites us to share in that nature, not only by some pure, mystical connection to God in Christ, but through our flesh, blood and spirit relationships with one another.
God rejoices when we move beyond ourselves, beyond our hostility and ignorance and suspicion, past our “dividing walls” and into relationship with one another, signifying to the world that we are one reconciled body, the body of Christ. In this, we reflect the mutual relationship and union that is the very nature of Godself.
It is true that God stands with God’s people through every trial, but not so that they will sit comfortably with the privilege of apparent divine favor. Now they have to stand in solidarity with, graciously receive and welcome the vulnerable ones within their community and beyond it whom they might find it most difficult to accept: the orphan, the widow, the stranger, The Other. God has done it for them. Now they are called to respond in kind, literally imitating the God who graciously welcomed them.
God’s hospitality [is] the welcome that actively loves and receives us just as we are, despite every reservation, expectation or term we might set out, however strange we imagine ourselves to be, however far out we have been cast. That is Jesus’ hospitality, as he illustrates with seemingly every action, and nowhere more clearly than in his radically welcoming table fellowship. He invites lowly fishermen, unclean prostitutes, marginalized tax collectors, and insignificant widows to partake of the lavish feast he has come to offer all.
God has graciously, prodigally welcomed you, because it is in God’s very nature to seek you out and welcome you home when you feel the least worthy of embrace. Can you do likewise with others, entering solidarity with the outcast you find yourself least willing or able to receive? Can you make room within yourself to receive The Other?”

David’s comments:

I hear these thoughts, and I can see how Jesus wants to invite all to His community. But I am not yet anything like what Jesus wants in and of me. “Can you make room within yourself to receive The Other?” I am not sure I have even made room for Jesus, yet.

Your thoughts?

David

“Defining Radical Welcome”

David Rust commenting on “Radical Welcome” by Stephanie Spellers – CHURCH PUBLISHING INC. Kindle Edition.

I am proposing the following format to get discussion started on this blog. I will summarize in a few sentences a section of the book “Radical Welcome” and then add a few questions or comments of my own. Then, after you have read the same section, you are invited to post your comments on this blog related to the section of the book being discussed. I’d appreciate it if we avoided stating an opinion without knowing the context of the comments from the book. I trust that as we consider the book, we all remain open to the to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to possibly lead us to new insights rather than simply restating what we believed on the topic prior to reading the book. And so……

In the section “Defining Radical Welcome” (p. 11-26), certain terms are defined:

“Radical welcome is a fundamental spiritual practice, one that combines the universal Christian ministry of welcome and hospitality with a clear awareness of power and patterns of inclusion and exclusion.”

“Think of the times you have been embraced, welcomed, received. We all know how good it is to come home like that, even if the territory is new. When someone […] thinks of us and our needs and hopes; when someone listens with full attention to our story and then offers their own, without seeking to master or co-opt; when someone sets aside their own preferences in order to joyfully, humbly defer to ours. When we are welcomed like this, we can experience the state of freedom and love I believe God wills for all people. It is a joy to receive this welcome. It is also a joy to offer this welcome, to say to another person: “May I know you better?” ”

“But there is more to radical welcome, as the word radical signifies. Radical […] amplifies the welcome, broadening and deepening and launching it to the next level. It also indicates a deep, fierce, urgent commitment to some core ideal. […] Radical is Jesus. Radical is getting down to the roots.”

“Who is ”the Other”? [The Other] is at once a full, complex, individual human being with a unique story and perspective and a member of a larger group that exists within the social hierarchy […]. Depending on who the dominant, empowered groups are in your parish, The Others are the ones you have the power to systemically marginalize and/ or oppress. They are […] the targets of oppression, while those who hold certain privileges and power are non-targets. […] Identifying The Other requires only the recognition that, within the social system in which we all function, some groups have been given social, economic and political power over other groups.”

David’s comments:

Well this sounds harsh… the Other is the target of oppression. Except, maybe there is some truth to this. If a street person comes in to our church begging for a sandwich, I may well feel I hold “power” of position over that person. I may not directly oppress the street person, but I know in my heart I am “better” than him/her.

REALLY?! Do I really think this? Or am I so transformed by the renewing of my mind, that I can see the scenario above and Radically Welcome that street person into our congregation? And how do I talk to this person? With my hand over my wallet? Or looking this person directly in the eye, and seeing the image of God in that person?

I am a long way from being Radically Welcoming!

Your thoughts?

David

“Introduction”

David Rust commenting on “Radical Welcome” by Stephanie Spellers – CHURCH PUBLISHING INC. Kindle Edition.

I am proposing the following format to get discussion started on this blog. I will summarize in a few sentences a section of the book “Radical Welcome” and then add a few questions or comments of my own. Then, after you have read the same section, you are invited to post your comments on this blog related to the section of the book being discussed. I’d appreciate it if we avoided stating an opinion without knowing the context of the comments from the book. I trust that as we consider the book, we all remain open to the to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to possibly lead us to new insights rather than simply restating what we believed on the topic prior to reading the book. And so……

INTRODUCTION
In the Introduction, this book asks:
“Is it … possible to transform mainline churches into the multicultural, multigenerational, inclusive body of Christ so many of us yearn to become? That’s where radical welcome comes in. Radical welcome is the spiritual practice of embracing and being changed by the gifts, presence, voices, and power of The Other: the people systemically cast out of or marginalized within a church, a denomination and/or society.”
This book wants to:
“study churches that ran the gamut in terms of community composition and who and how they were welcoming. In particular, I opted to focus on how each dealt with embracing across lines of race and ethnicity, generation, sexual orientation, and class privilege. Some wrestled with one issue, most with a combination. No one had the same margins or the same center, so the lessons are truly broad in their application.”

My personal opinion (speaking as myself personally, not as a representative of any church committee):
Why would Trinity Lutheran even consider going down this path? Why would we step away from the church experience many of us have right now? Why would we want to become a “multicultural, multigenerational” church “changed by the gifts, presence, voices and power of the Other.”

My response is because Jesus wants His people to live meaningfully in this world; to bring Him meaningfully to every person in this world. This is the Church’s great calling, and we are missing the mark by not doing this.

AND because if we do not change, our church will die. We will all get old together; our children will either go to another church which offers something more and different, or leave Church altogether.
Your thoughts?

David

I started writing an ending “Love in Christ, David”, then edited it (made it go away). Why did I do this? I DO want to express to you love in Christ, so why don’t I stand up and say so? I don’t know, so……

Love in Christ

David

“Foreword”

David Rust commenting on “Radical Welcome” by Stephanie Spellers – CHURCH PUBLISHING INC. Kindle Edition.

I am proposing the following format to get discussion started on this blog. I will summarize in a few sentences a section of the book “Radical Welcome” and then add a few questions or comments of my own. Then, after you have read the same section, you are invited to post your comments on this blog related to the section of the book being discussed. I’d appreciate it if we avoided stating an opinion without knowing the context of the comments from the book. I trust that as we consider the book, we all remain open to the to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to possibly lead us to new insights rather than simply restating what we believed on the topic prior to reading the book. And so……

FOREWORD:
This book “gives us a framework and … gives us practical tools. In a step-by-step journey of discovery into what radical welcome is and how it can work…. [this book] offers us a blueprint for planned growth, change and mission…. [the book] shows us that there is a great, untapped source of strength for every congregation. It is the presence of The Other within the pastoral neighborhood: that group of persons who stand just beyond the social/ cultural threshold of the congregation. We are asked to confront how we all “participate in systems of inclusion and exclusion.”….. This is not a “feel good” book. It is not about how we should all be nice to strangers at coffee hour. This is a book about the very hard challenges that face any of us when we decide to step outside of our isolation for the sake of the gospel.” (p. ix – x)

David’s comments: I read the Foreword, and already my senses are tingling. Go look for The Other. REALLY? Confront how we include and exclude people in our church. REALLY? Step outside of our isolation for the sake of the gospel. REALLY?
This could be a threatening book to read. I need to trust the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts here.

An invitation to discuss Radical Welcome

From David R.:

I am posting this blog as an invitation to early discussion.

I have just started reading the book Radical Welcome: Embracing God, The Other, and the Spirit of Transformation by Stephanie Spellers. This is the book Trinity Lutheran church council is using as a “jumping off” point to encourage new growth in God’s life for our church.

Below are some quotes from the book that I want to ponder more deeply:

“Radical Welcome Is . . .
Hospitable • Connected • Centered • Open to conversion • Intentional • Comprehensive • Becoming (an ongoing change) • Beyond diversity • Faithful • Compassionate • Real”

“Radical welcome is not . . .
an invitation to assimilate. • Radical welcome is not feel-good ministry. • Radical welcome is not reverse discrimination. • Radical welcome is not a conventional church growth strategy. • Radical welcome is not political correctness or a haphazard, reactionary throwing out of the baby with the bathwater.”

Already I look at this and then at me, and marvel at the size of transformation in me this change will require.

I like to think God is molding me, and I see the idea of accepting all people to the house of God.

And then I say to myself “Him too, God? That one too? But she hasn’t been… (fill in the blank.) He has never…. (another blank to fill in).” Already I am challenged to stretch, and I am not through the first chapter yet.

Some really early thoughts:
…we cannot do this by ourselves – it won’t work unless the triune God is actively leading us to change.
…we would need a fair amount of prayer and discussion and teaching and “buying in” to get this moving.
…this is not a 6 week, or 6 month, or 2 year journey. I feel there is a degree of inertia in our congregation that would have to be overcome. Implementing full scale radical welcome will require more than a passing interest in the idea (see “buying in” above).
…there may even be the danger of losing existing members along the way if we pursue this. If we could lose members over the “pipe organ or not” debate of the past, a full-scale change like this proposal could potentially cause more members to go elsewhere.
…our focus will need to change from the everyday concerns to “how does (fill in the blank) action advance God’s Kingdom in the areas Trinity Lutheran is accountable for?”

I invite you to obtain the book on your own (less than $10 through Amazon Kindle) or to leave your name with the church office to borrow a copy. Then drop your thoughts and comments on this blog as you read or re-read the book.

David Rust

From the editor: You may also be interested in Hannah’s article about the book Radical Welcome: “What’s so radical about welcoming people to church?”