Ministry – Reflection, June 2011

Summer sunshine, what a gift, what a joy! After such a long, wet and dreary spring season we seem to have finally rounded the corner and moved into the weather that many of us long for – the warmth and colour and welcome of the summer. Last night, in nature’s effort to break the day’s humidity, we had a fierce storm that brought with it much lightening,thunderand rain. Our fearless guard dog Jessie quickly responded in her usual manner, assuming her position of safety, squeezing carefully in under our bed. Checking out the storm through our upstairs windows I was glad that I had taken the time and effort to put in stakes to support our two new trees, a yellow magnolia on the front lawn and a beautiful Japanese maple out back. The trees were both bending somewhat in the wind but the stakes and cables I had wrapped around the trees held firm and no damage was done.

In our church lives we have now entered the Season of Pentecost, a time when we remember the story, from the Book of The Acts of the Apostles, where we hear of the gathering of Jesus friends and followers who, in the midst of their coming together, both felt and heard the sudden imposition of a very strong, almost violent wind rushing in among them, and we are told that they saw something that they described as “tongues of fire” that spread among them touching upon each individual, in turn. The daily news reports of late have shown us, in clear detail, the harmful and damaging effects of unbridled wind – as tornadoes have recently wreaked havoc throughout the United States and parts of Canada. Wind is a very powerful force of nature that can, by turns, be either a source of terrible devastation or a source of energy, refreshing breezes and clearing skies.

In the Bible, the wind can often be linked to the presence of God, or more specifically, the Holy Spirit. As we gather at poolsides and on patios and beaches this summer, let us pause as we feel the warmth of the summer wind and think of those followers of Jesus, so long ago, who experienced the wind as a sign and very present symbol of the ongoing presence of the Holy in their lives. I would encourage you to let the warm caress of the summer breeze touch you and open your heart to the possibility that God’s hand is reaching out to you in an act of compassion, grace, love and care, that you may be healed and strengthened for the work of Christ that lies ahead for us all.

Thinking back to the windswept trees in my yard I wonder if they are not also a good metaphor for our Christian life; that as we are young in our faith, our roots not firmly established, we need the support of an iron stake, a person or family of faith, that is firmly anchored beside us, holding us strong through the winds of life, until such time as our own roots can grow and spread and find abundant nurture in the ground that is the church, the body of Christ.

I pray that the sunshine of God’s love may shine brightly upon each of you throughout the weeks that lie ahead and that the summer may indeed be a time of relaxation, refreshment and deepening of faith and love for one another and all of God’s good creation.

Blessings,
Rev. Brian

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HJUC Response to the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

Images of the events that have taken place in Japan over the last couple of weeks have filled our newspapers, magazines, television screens, webpages and e-mails. Many of the images are indelibly etched onto our minds eye as we think, time and again, of family, loved ones and strangers alike whose lives have been forever changed by this devastating chain of events.

In response to these events, Hamilton Japanese United Church is collecting donations in support of the effort to offer relief for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami (and ongoing nuclear issues) that have, and are still taking place in Japan.

At the discretion of the donor, we have two different avenues of directing the funding that we receive for the aid efforts. We believe that both are valid and helpful directions. We can either direct an individual’s giving’s through the United Church of Canada who is working with four partner agencies in Japan who will share in the distribution of the donations (85% will go to Japan relief and 15% will be directed to other areas in the world in need of relief, that may not have received sufficient media attention to initiate fundraising efforts).

The other avenue by which we can direct the funding is through the “Emergency Fundraising Campaign for Eastern Japan Earthquake Disaster”, which is an initiative of the World Mission Committee of Kyodan (United Church of Christ in Japan). We will send these monies to the Vancouver Japanese United Church – Japanese Speaking Congregation, who will forward these and other donations directly to the Kyodan Churches.

HJUC has had a long standing relationship with the Kyodan Churches in Japan and it was felt that by steering funding directly to their churches that are located in the north eastern area of Japan (the area most devastated by the earthquake and tsunami), they could get the money to where it is needed most, in a very timely fashion and they will also be well suited to address the unique circumstances that may present themselves in any given community.

We ask that any donations be made out to “Hamilton Japanese United Church” and that a brief accompanying note would indicate the avenue that the donor would prefer the funds be directed through. Tax receipts will be issued for all donations, regardless of the funding option chosen. Cheques can be mailed to – Hamilton Japanese United Church, 715 Upper Gage Avenue, Hamilton, Ontario, L8V 4J9. Please feel free to contact the church office (905-385-8823) if you should have any questions.

Our congregation is fortunate in that any of our members who were in Japan at the time of the disaster are okay. There is still much concern for extended family members, friends and all of those who have suffered and are still suffering through such terrible loss, fear, displacement and anxiety. We are deeply appreciative of any contributions that are directed through us to our sisters and brothers in Japan.

Yours in Christ,
Hamilton Japanese United Church

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Welcome to the Hamilton Japanese United Church Website

Welcome to the Hamilton Japanese United Church Website!

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