I’ve thought about change quite a bit recently. In March, my spouse and I welcomed the arrival of our first child. As such, sleep patterns have been upended; the realities of travel have taken on a new light; and our schedules, in particular, have seen seismic shifts. On the days it is just my daughter and I at home, for example, it is a good day if I found the time to have brushed my teeth by noon. Everything has changed.
Most of the time, when we can choose change in our lives, we resist it. But sometimes change is thrust upon us, and we have no choice but to accept it. Rather than lamenting in that moment, I wonder, what might we learn if we pause and look around? As my life has changed with the addition of parenthood to my list of responsibilities and privileges, I have come to see that my capacity to love has grown. I did not know my heart could be permanently melted by someone so small. I have a different view of what is most important in my life and what is the best use of my time. I understand much better the joys of life and joy’s difference from happiness; I might not be happy when my daughter is wailing, but it is still joyful to hold that crying child in my arms before she outgrows them.
If I had resisted these changes to my personality, my schedule, and my very heart, I would have missed so much of this. But in opening myself to these changes and allowing myself to be molded by a new and unfolding world, I am able to be transformed into someone who is more loving, more compassionate, and even more joyful. Perhaps the past year has taught us something similar.
I find the lessons of change I am learning are also helpful in faith. Throughout the story of the Bible, God is constantly moving in different ways so that the people of God might grow in their capacity to share and to be God’s unchanging love, justice, and mercy in this world. When rigid and closed to the ever-unfolding Spirit of God, the people miss this. When open to change, the people grow and the world is better off.
Each day, be it with faith or as a parent, I have learned that I should be open to change. I should be flexible. I should wonder greatly and let God surprise me. I would encourage you to do the same. We all have many ways we might need some transformation. We all have much to learn. We also each have a lot of God’s love to give. Sometimes, however, it takes a little change to break our hearts open to that love and to the ability to share it with others. But I have found that is a change well worth embracing.
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Member of CANAAC Steering Committee
On July 1st every year communities across Canada celebrate Canada Day. We mark the 1867 Confederation of former British colonies into the new nation of Canada. People celebrate with backyard barbecues, parades, concerts, and lots of fireworks. Canadian flags are proudly displayed on houses and cars; we even paint our kid’s faces with the Maple Leaf. There’s much to celebrate about our nation.
“I hate, I despise your festivals…
Take away from me the noise of your songs;…
But let justice roll down like waters,
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” —Amos 5:21-24
This spring, 215 unmarked graves of children were discovered at Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia and 751 unmarked graves at Marieval Residential School in Saskatchewan. These unmarked mass graves are part of the painful legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada. These and many more were operated by churches at the request of the Canadian government for more than 100 years. You can read more about our church’s journey at presbyterian.ca/healing
We expect more similar discoveries as traditional knowledge keepers share stories of similar sites across Canada. Or rather, as more non-Indigenous people truly listen to and hear these stories.
Some communities have decided to not celebrate Canada Day this year as a visible sign of honour and lament. One network of radio stations aired recordings of survivors personal accounts of tragedy and trauma.
As Christians, as followers of the crucified, suffering, and risen Christ we hold celebration and lament together in tension—celebration at what our life-giving and liberating God is doing in the world, and lament over our own and our ancestors sins no matter when we settled in this land. With thanksgiving and humility we join in Christ’s ministry of reconciliation.
— Rev. Matthew Sams
Minister at Willowdale Presbyterian Church
 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.
 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?
 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
 Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home."
 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.
 He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
Mark 6:1-6 [NIV]
This last year has been painful and frustrating, and as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, hunger, inequality, despair, and death have increased. It is very difficult to keep good spirits, smiles, and dreams in the middle of such an exhausting experience, due to its negative impact and duration. Everything that was normal for us has changed irreversibly, preventing us from seeing the way out or the possibility or alternatives. All of us have experienced and suffered the effects in different areas of our lives.
Personally, I must confess that I depend on hugs, kisses, and smiles not only because of my Latin culture, but because I like to express affection in a physical way. For me, the community of faith is one of the places where we can share affection, feed those who are hungry in body and spirit with food, hugs, and words. At the same time that we are fed with their affection and life experiences. I suffer from distancing and the absence of hugs.
Serving as a pastor, supporting social projects in celebratory and educational spaces, visiting homes and lives, has been until now a Pentecost experience where my voice joins that of the People of God who are hungry, sick, grateful,and celebrant. I miss all that, as well as the spaces of CANAAC, where we meet brothers and sisters from different churches and countries to get to know each other, dream together, and celebrate the same God.
In times like these, we can be one with Jesus in the frustration of seeing ourselves without enough solutions, and in the pain of not being able to share his teachings and healing as part of our journey as Christian believers. However, Jesus accepted his frailty and humbly found new ways to help as he continued on his way despite his amazement.
Let's think of this time period of pandemic as a spiritual journey, where we can hear new and familiar voices, speaking unexpected words. Let’s listen to the hope-filled voice of God for his people in the midst of pain. Let’s us accept, even with amazement, our frailty as a place for God to reveal new ways of living.
For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 16 But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. —Romans 10:13-17
Romans 10, verse 17, today speaks to all of us — working in whatever part of the world we are in. The WCRC is made up of 232 member churches spanning geographical locations worldwide: Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America, the Pacific. We are a communion working in our varied spaces and places toward the common goal of sharing faith from what is heard — the word of Christ.
Our world today has been plunged into an experience similar to that of Job’s (feel free to read the book of Job) that can easily overwhelm us and cause fear to surround our every movement. Thankfully, we have a gift to share with the world — a gift that surpasses time, age, and event. The Word of God is that gift and is filled with promises, testimonies, and HOPE! Indeed, the world is in need of hearing this word of hope as we grapple with the fluidity of life in this era.
Across the ages, the Church has found itself advocating for many and supporting the good work being done for global unity, sustainability, and justice. As people working for the Lord in whatever sphere, there seems to be a never-ending cycle of grievances to work on. It is imperative then, that we, who work in these capacities, also hear and hold on to the word of hope that the Scriptures contain, so that we do not sink amidst the constant tide of justice issues pervading our societies.
We must saturate our spirits with the Word so that what comes out of us — through our lips or hands — will be filled with goodness allowing for growth and grace. Thing is, when reality sets in, as it sometimes does, giving up becomes more attractive. Truth is, the world needs each of us working diligently in our areas to share hope, light, love, and grace. Our work is vital to sustaining the goodness and good things of this earth.
The Scripture selection today urges us to recognise that our efforts are never in vain. So we continue to toil and labour, work and give — so that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved!
As the Secretary for CANAAC, working out of a small country in the Caribbean called Trinidad and Tobago, I value the amazing work that is done by each and every individual across the CANAAC region and across the WCRC. This is living with purpose and fulfilling that commission of Jesus — reaching out and drawing persons in to the embrace of God so that they too, will find solace, peace, joy and hope in the midst of a strange world. Let us all work for the Lord gladly, knowing that we serve alongside so many others for a better world, a just society and a people of hope!
National Youth Coordinator
Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago