What a service this past week! We were so grateful to have Charlie Wells and Tracy Canil offer their gifts of guitar and flute. "These are the Days of Elijah" nearly took the roof off (the roof repairs happening right now are unrelated to Sunday's music). We also had mixed feelings of gratitude and regret--thankful for Emma, our preschool children's leader's ministry with us over the past few years, and sadness to see her go. Emma will be missed, but starts a whole new chapter of her life in Winnipeg where her mother, Anne, is doing very well.
This week we'll also have a mix of gratitude and sadness--Rev. Wally and Paula Fry will be moving to Cochrane Alberta to be closer to their family. Wally, a retired United Church minister, stepped up to the plate several years ago after the sudden resignation of Rev. Neil Lemke, and served as minister while the congregation tried to plot a new course. Wally has continued to serve us in various ways, especially in bible studies. We are grateful for his warmth, his wisdom, and his pastoral sensitivity. They will be truly missed, but we will have the opportunity to offer our thanks to God for Paula and Wally this Sunday.
This Sunday we'll continue with our series on the stories of Elijah, with Naboth's Vineyard (1 Kings 21:1-21a). Here King Ahab covets a man named Naboth's vineyard, and along with his wife Jezebel will stop at nothing to possess it. In the Bible land--and who owns the land--is a huge issue. One thinks of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as well as the plight of Indigenous peoples in Canada and abroad. For the ancient Israelites, God was the owner of all land, and human beings are meant to be tenants and stewards. The land was meant to be for the common good and the benefit of all. Unfortunately, as in the case of our scripture text, there is the constant temptation for human beings to violate this sacred covenant with God for our own gain. It seems especially appropriate that this coming Tuesday is National Aboriginal Day, as Ahab-like decisions in our country's past continue to reverberate in the lives of First Nations people even now. Land and the treatment of its peoples is just as important now as it is in the scriptures. As Christians, how we deal with land-issues of any kind is not just how we deal with fellow human beings--it's how we deal with God as the landowner.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday where we'll celebrate, contemplate, and try to figure out together what it means to live our lives differently in a world where where "the earth is the Lords, and everything in it."
In the peace of Christ,
Rev. Ryan Slifka
PS: Sunday is also the last day for the choir before their summer break so we'll be saying thanks to them, too!
PPS: We have been asked to distribute a survey on behalf of the Comox Valley Foundation--Comox Valley Vital Signs. Vital Signs® is a regular check-up conducted by community foundations to measure the vitality of communities across Canada. It gathers and publishes data on significant social and economic trends in areas critical to quality of life. As a community of faith that seeks the welfare of the city (Jeremiah 29:7), each of us are invited to fill this out as a way to contribute to the common good. Click here to fill it out.