On Palm Sunday we had a special service with Palm branch leaves
Every one waved the Palm branch while singing “Hosanna, loud Hosanna, Happy children sing….”
Lent begins with Feb 14, in this year’s Christian calendar.
Ash-Wednesday is the starting point of the holy journey in this Lent season.
What is Lent? Why is it so widely practiced by Christians all over the world?
Did the first Century church observe Lent? Unlike New Year’s, Christmas,
Halloween, St. Valentine’s Day and other pagan holidays that are celebrated by
the secular, non-religious world, the Lenten season is observed by dedicated
From Ash Wednesday to Easter, many solemnly mark their foreheads with ash,
“fasting” (or abstaining from certain foods or physical pleasures) for 40 days.
This is done to supposedly imitate Jesus Christ’s 40-day fast in the wilderness
(Matt. 4:1-2). Some give up smoking. Others give up chewing gum. Still others
give up over-eating or cursing. Some others fast from waste. Not all waste is
bad, of course–every time you eat, you produce waste–but then, fasting is not
about stopping something bad.
It’s about sacrificing something good so that you can draw near to God. Fast from
the real cultural good of waste management by greatly reducing your own waste.
This means being careful about how you use everything, so that almost nothing is
wasted. People vow to give up anything, as long as it prepares them for Easter.
The real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare us for the celebration of the
death and Resurrection of Christ. the better the preparation the more effective
the celebration will be.
Do you want to fast this Lent? In the words of Pope Francis, saying,
Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from sadness and filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patient.
Fast from pessimism and filled with hope.
Fast from worries and trust in God.
Fast from complains and contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
One can effectively relive the mystery only with purified mind and heart.
The purpose of Lent is to provide that purification by weaning Christians from sin
and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating in them the desire to
do God’s will and to make His kingdom come by making it come first of all in their
I hope everyone in our congregation may have chance uplifting the spirituality by
deepening meditation on Jesus’ journey toward the Cross, and also with some kind
Lark, the minister
The New Year is already come, and New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity for all those who have failed to start making the changes that they said they would make next week, next month, or perhaps when spring starts. Well, now I just sit down and prepare a list of important lifestyle changes I want to make in the hope of that this may give you a bit of help – because since the majority of people fail to stick to their resolution, you’ll need all the help you can get.
I know as I am looking for effective ways of changing my life for the better, then I’ll be finding tons of useful information through the internet. I hope that in this year, I may make mistakes. Because if I are making mistakes, then I am making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing myself, changing myself, changing my world. If you are confident other people notice it, and it is much easier to have my opinions heard.
A good dose of self-confidence will help you lead a much happier life overall. Don’t hesitate to get some input on ways to boost your confidence. It’s a good sports-man-ship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow. Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause. The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – it is the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning. It takes time and patience to learn how to find joy in the little things and not to let problems bring me down.
This year, I am going to see my good friends more often, and read good books: this is the ideal life. Books are an excellent way to gain a lot of knowledge on a huge variety of topics, and are also a great exercise for my brain. It’s not that difficult to go through 20 or more books in a year – I may only need to make it a habit, and time for reading here and there. Get more quality sleep: With big TV’s, computers, smartphones, tablets and all sorts of gadgets with glowing lights and beeping alerts, it can be hard to get enough sleep at night. I should be gunning for at least 7 hours of sleep a night, and there are fairly simple ways to achieve this number. If I make use of science and everyday hacks. Watch less TV: Once I manage to cut down on TV time, I may realize just how long and productive a day can really be. I’d like to clean my house and lead a tidier and more organized life.
I may spend more time with the people that matter: There is just too little time in this life for us to waste it on insincere, duplicitous and toxic people. We should focus on the people who we care about deeply and who care about us, as this is the best way to stay happy. I would learn more about art, music, culture etc.: The best way to fit in when talking to a variety of people from different backgrounds is to have a well-rounded education. Topics like art, music, history and culture often baffle people, but they can be easy to comprehend if I spend enough time learning about them using helpful websites and online courses.
Spend less time on social media: Some people might not spend hours in front of the TV, or playing video games, but social media has become a serious
addiction among a wide range of demographics.
I am going to see my doctor more often: Staying healthy should be my top priority, but many people seem frighten of doctors and don’t go to the hospital nearly as often as they should, often waiting for their condition to significantly worsen.
Regular checkups are a must, no matter how healthy you feel at the moment.
Reinventing yourself can give me a whole new perspective on life and take me in directions I may never have dreamed were possible.
I may learn to control my emotions: Uncontrolled anger can get you into a lot of trouble, but things like jealousy and pride are destructive in all circumstances. Gaining control over my feelings allows me to keep a level head and think more rationally, even during emotionally charged conflict situations. Being able to ensure my own safety, and the safety of those I love, is a very important skillset to have. It’s not all about groin kicks and palm strikes, however. I need to learn how to conduct myself and what kind of behavior to look out for in others.
Face my fears and insecurities: I will find this particular point masked beneath another New Year’s resolutions, but fear and insecurity are often the cause of several problems that I want to address, and it will enable you to shed off a lot of the insecurities that you have. I’ll write a book/journal: Even if it is just a few random thoughts scribbled daily in a journal, I shouldn’t be afraid to give writing a go with a few tips and tricks.
Stick to the good healthy habits I’ve developed: the last, and most important point to mention is that all the positive changes I may make have to be permanent. I will need to work on sticking with the good habits I have adopted, until they just become a natural part of who I am. That is how people achieve true, and days can be worth years in value.
Well, there you have it and you may see your own New Year’s resolution through and make some long-term changes in your life. I wish you all a Happy New Year!
American author and social critic James Howard Kunstler coined the phrase “long emergency” to describe the effect of decades of small changes. For example, if our congregation were to lose half its members in 10 year, that would be an emergency. But if it were to half its membership over two decades, losing maybe two or three per year, we would adjust and carry on. But, says Kunstler, it’s still an emergency – a long emergency.
Here’s how it looks on a national scale. In 1977, when the United Church began recording average weekly attendance, 378,000 people went to church. That number peaked at 404,000 in 1984. Since then, attendance has gradually declined by 2.5 percent each year, so that in 2011 the number was 167,000. And if the rate of decline for only the past 10 years does not change, attendance will drop to 25,000 by 2025.
Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way that If you don’t ask the right questions, you end up trying to solve the wrong problems. And every congregation I had involved always asks me: What can we do to get more young families to come to church?
I have shelves full of books and have attended a lot of conferences and workshops to get answer for that question. All of these books, workshops, and conferences have focused on the church in splendid isolation. They all had great ideas.
However, what I didn’t notice was that none of these ever seriously discussed the reality that congregations do not exist in isolation. Congregations function within a larger society with its own culture and values. And its own competing salvation stories.
Now no congregation can survive from one generation to the next by having babies. It just can’t have babies fast enough to regenerate itself that way. Congregations must depend on society having babies who will go to church.
Nowadays from the babyhood they learn how to enjoy themselves with computer. The baby is hard-wiring her brain to expect that space does not end with the four walls of her room. To expect that time is not just, “Now,” but “All the time,” “Any time.” Is this the baby who will regenerate our congregations?
But here’s the catch. What if the society is producing babies who don’t go to church like they used to? Because if that is true, then this is a problem that no congregation can fix.
Here is the really bad news: It’s not your fault. The decline in worship attendance is not because you need a better minister, cheerier music, more small groups or jazzier youth programs. It’s not because you need read one more church-improvement book or to attend one more workshop. It’s not because the United Church is too liberal or too political.
The simple fact is that Canadians are not going to church like they used to. In fact, Canadians aren’t going to synagogues, mosques, temples, or Kiwanis either. Volunteer membership organizations of all types are declining.
Attendance decline is not a problem that can be fixed. It is simply a reality to which we must respond. Congregations must plan to be fewer and smaller. The challenge is too big for individual congregations to meet on their own; we may need to merge, or some other better ways yet unknown, but surely work together in new ways.
The good news is that the United Church was founded by those who left the beloved familiar behind and embraced the desired unknown. Where that heart still beats, our hope for the future can be found.
Hamilton Japanese United Church’s Covenanting service with Rev. Dr. Lark Kim and Hamilton Presbytery is on May 1st, 2016, at 4:00 pm. Presider will be Jean Bethune, the chair of the Hamilton Presbytery and the guest speaker is Rev. Gord Dunbar, the president of Hamilton Conference. Lark was called to be the minister at HJUC from January, 2016. We invite presbytery members, our families and friends. There will be Covenanting Acting and Communion Service, and after the service special meal will be provided to all the participants and attendants for celebrating the Covenanting. We hope God may bless our spiritual journey together in the course of our ministry.
On Monday, November 4, we will be hosting a special musical concert, at the church, featuring the saxophone music of Kishi Yoshihiro. The concert is scheduled for 7 – 8:30 p.m. with refreshments afterwards. There will be a free will offering to support Kishi’s travels on his Canadian tour and C.D.’s of his music will be available to purchase during the fellowship time. Please come and join us for this musical event and bring family and friends along with you.
I don’t know about you, but each year as we approach the summer season, my mind is flooded with memories of summers gone by, of hot sunny days, of warm nights, of beaches and swimming and sailing in my family’s little sunfish and, perhaps my strongest memories are of gardens and farms. When in high school I spend my summers working on a farm, market gardening only – no animals, save for the owners three legged dog (a victim of a farming accident) and these were days and times that I will always remember – the clear blue skies, the smell of the earth, the heat of the sun, the cool of a sudden rain shower, the amazingly good taste of my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and my thermos of red Kool-Aid.
Whether we ever worked on a farm or not, most of us will have some memories of gardens and gardening. I have wonderful memories of my grandfather’s backyard garden. I have few memories of his house, as I was just five years old when my grandmother died and my grandfather moved in with us, but the garden made a lasting impression on me. I think it must have been the raspberries. I love raspberries and he let me wander in among the bushes and pick and eat to my heart’s content. In hindsight, I suspect that this is pretty close to what a four year old child’s version of heaven might be!
My grandfather was what we might call a gentleman farmer. He grew up learning the harness-making trade from his father, but with the advent of the automobile,the harness business faltered and he moved into the men’s clothing trade, selling work and dress clothes alike, from a small storefront on Brant Street in downtown Burlington. Being in the business, my grandfather always wore a suit. Being a practical individual who had lived through the depression he owned three suits – one for church and special occasions, one for work at the store, and one for gardening and housework. When the gardening one wore out he would buy a new special occasion one and the others would each move a step down the ladder. He believed that it was reasonable to own four dress shirts, two white and two blue. Even though he was in the business, I can remember him wondering why anyone would need more clothing than this. It’s hard not to reflect on the fact that this is a question that my generation would rarely, if ever, ask, because for many of us today, as the television ads regularly remind us, “more is better”; they’d like us to believe it’s that simple an equation!
My granddad gardened well into his eighties and spent many peaceful and contented hours enjoying the quiet of nature as he cultivated and pruned and watered the various plants, casually dressed (by his standards) in a three piece suit, open collar shirtand fedora hat (he would, on occasion and at my mother’s suggestion, switch out the suit coat for a navy cardigan).
My father-in-law grew up on a farm outside London Ontario and although he left the farm in his late teens to work in the farming equipment industry, the farm never really left him. He has always had a large; perhaps one might call it oversized garden in his city backyard. He too loves gardening and regularly grows far more vegetables than any one family can reasonably preserve or consume, and so each year the neighbours benefit greatly from the bounty of his harvest.
Not being fully satisfied with just one type of crop, my father-in-law grows more than veggies alone; there are flowering shrubs and trees too – maple and chestnut seem to be a speciality of sorts. For most of us, when we have a guest for dinner we might expect them to bring a bottle of wine or perhaps a bouquet of fresh flowers, but my father-in-law is more likely to show up with a couple of Rose of Sharon bushes, a five foot tree and a bag of rhubarb!
I’m looking out my office window this morning at a sturdy, healthy new chestnut tree in the middle of our back yard. I planted it just a few days ago after having had my in-laws for dinner. You know, lots of folks tell me that they don’t really like chestnut trees – they say that they are messy and dirty and to some extent that may be true, but I have a lot of really good memories associated with these trees and so I’m really glad to have a new one. As a child I liked to collect chestnuts from the farm across the road from our family cottage and I dutifully took them home and planted them, and over the years I can proudly take responsibility for several beautiful big chestnut trees now gracing various yards in Burlington’s downtown core.
Like my grandfather and my father-in-law, I also like to garden. I find it relaxing and it fills me with a certain calm and peace as I work the ground and dirty my hands in the rich, dark earth.
As I think about these things, I am reminded that God is the original farmer and that this entire created world is indeed God’s garden, and what a beautiful, rich and abundant garden it is – its bounty lies beyond imagination! The Bible reminds us, in both Genesis and the Psalms that we are called to be the stewards of the earth – caretakers of God’s amazing and bountiful garden. How we nurture, care for and share the produce of this garden is a sure measure of our faith and our will to be the people God calls us to be, through the teachings and love of Jesus Christ.
Over the weeks of summer that lie ahead, as we enjoy the warmth and beauty of the season, let us also remember to tend the various gardens of our lives, not only our backyard and balcony gardens, but the gardens of relationships and the gardens of our hearts, let us nurture and feed, cultivate and prune with compassion, forgiveness, hope and love, and let us share generously from the bounty of the harvest.
Wishing you all of the blessings of the summer season,
By: B.M. Howell
God of life and love, God of hope and new tomorrows,
God of compassion and comfort, God of healing and strength,
God of the cross, and God of the empty tomb;
we come before today with hearts that are saddened beyond words,
weighed down by the grief that has been wrought, once again,
by the evil and violence that so threatens our world.
It seems incomprehensible that in this Advent and Christmas Season,
a time when we think of angelic choirs bringing glad tidings of peace and joy,
we should have to bear witness to the senseless loss of so many lives;
both children and teachers alike.
How many lives have been utterly devastated by such violence?
How long will it take until for your kingdom will fully come?
When will harmony, reconciliation and peace truly come to reign in our lives?
Forgiving and healing God, we pray that your compassionate and healing Spirit will
embrace all of the hearts that have been wounded and broken by acts of violence
and hate, thinking today especially of the families, loved ones and friends,
of those who died in the Newtown, Connecticut shootings.
May they come to know the length and depth of your eternal love.
We pray that your Holy Spirit will empower and equip our hearts with the
wisdom, compassion, strength and grace to change our world, forever and for the
A Prayer for Victims of Violence – Newtown, Connecticut
In the days of John the Baptist, violence and brutality reigned in the world,
and he cried out to the nations for change;
so to may we urgently cry out to a broken and hurting world,
calling with courageous and faithful hearts for repentance and change.
Grant us God the wisdom and strength to be the bearers of your love
and the prophets of your peace in our world today.
May visions of angel choirs yet fill our hearts and our heads,
even as our eyes are yet clouded by a veil of tears.
And may your peace that passes all understanding
descend upon our hearts,
that it may be our guide and our strength in the days that lie ahead.