As you may recall from this entry, my friend Tricia and I decided to check out each other's worship experience. So yesterday, Tricia came to my beloved St. John's United.
Her husband dropped her off at SJ shortly before the service started, so I had a chance to introduce her to Rev. Valerie, and to several of the congregation (who, in the summer, are mostly made up of 'savvy old ladies', which phrase I read somewhere recently and it cracked me up...there is so much truth in that term, the older church women just know things...lots of things.) I felt a shade guilty for abandoning choir, but I wanted to sit with Tricia. Not that my voice is anything special, mind you, but there were only three other choir members this week (normally we are ten - fifteen, but numbers plummet in the summer) so a fourth member would likely have been appreciated! But I, and the rest of the congregation, sang along to most pieces anyway, so in the end it didn't really matter if I sat with them or not.
We had a wonderful hymn sing this day - on summer Sundays, we always have a few minutes at the beginning of the service where we call out favourite hymns and sing them. Lots of great selections this week: Lord of Sea and Sky (my sister's favourite), In the Bulb there is a Flower (one of my late Grammy's favourites), Jesus You have come to the Lakeshore (one of my favourites), Lord of the Dance (one of everyone's favourites!), and more. I was glad of this, because I know one thing Tricia misses about the United Church is the music...actually it was she who called out Lord of Sea and Sky.
As usual, Valerie delivered her sermon out of her head (as opposed to reading from notes). She began with a scripture reading from Genesis - the story of Joseph and his brothers, and how Joseph forgave them for selling him into slavery. Then, at least to my ears, she preached about building and healing relationships through forgiveness and by sitting together, face to face, which process she reminded us also exists in the secular world where it is called restorative justice. In looking someone - whether the hurting or the hurter - in the eye, that person becomes real. She spoke of how this approach to healing is part of aboriginal culture, and also read this very moving United Church Apology to First Nations Peoples (1986):
"Long before my people journeyed to this land your people were here, and you received from your Elders an understanding of creation and of the Mystery that surrounds us all that was deep, and rich, and to be treasured.
We did not hear you when you shared your vision. In our zeal to tell you of the good news of Jesus Christ we were closed to the value of your spirituality.
We confused Western ways and culture with the depth and breadth and length and height of the gospel of Christ.
We imposed our civilization as a condition for accepting the gospel.
We tried to make you be like us and in so doing we helped to destroy the vision that made you what you were. As a result you, and we, are poorer and the image of the Creator in us is twisted, blurred, and we are not what we are meant by God to be.
We ask you to forgive us and to walk together with us in the Spirit of Christ so that our peoples may be blessed and God's creation healed."
Such a coincidence that Valerie included First Nations spiritual practices in her sermon this week when I just bought Karl that book on Mi'kmaq culture. I was very glad that Tricia seemed to really enjoy the service. It was so wonderful to have her there...I hope she comes again!
After church, we were going to visit our friend Jane, but unfortunately she wasn't home so we popped up to my mom's instead. We had coffee, great conversation and yummy, fresh out of the oven blueberry crisp...mmmmmm!!! Then we went to my house for lunch. On the way there, I swung by my sister's place to show Tricia where she lived. Lynn was sitting out on her front deck with a friend, so we stopped in for a quick minute to say hello. As we left, we joked that we must be going steady now because Tricia has met my family!
I made us peach, prosciutto and feta pizza for lunch. This is one of my absolute favourite pizzas, so delicious and simple to make. (Just drizzle olive oil over the crust, top with thinly sliced fresh peaches, torn up prosciutto slices, crumbled feta and rosemary, and bake for a few minutes in a hot oven.) This was a hit with everyone. What a lovely time we had, chatting with Ginger about university (Tricia's son is also starting at Dal in September, so she was interested to hear about Ginger's plans). After a while, I drove Tricia home. Her son had needed her car to get to work, and she almost thought she wasn't going to be able to come at all, but I said I would be happy to drive her home. I figure I drive the kids' friends home all the time, why on earth shouldn't I do the same for my own friends?!
Another fabulous day in the company of a good friend...how fortunate I am!!