Remember? (Guest Blog by Carl Nash)

I’m writing this blog from high above the clouds on my way home from Berlin.  Despite all the rain, it was a wonderful week - but in many ways quite surreal. 

I love to run.  However a nerve issue from Feb 2018 to April 2019 had all but eliminated running from my life.  That takes a lot of getting used to, and required a whole lot of re-jigging identity stuff.  Quite healthy in hindsight.  Anyways, I began to turn the corner in May and ease my way back in to running.  I had won a lottery bid to enter one of the world’s largest marathons (in Berlin) and decided to go for it.  Leanne (my wife) couldn’t get the last minute vacation time off work so my oldest daughter’s boyfriend Brian suggested he come along.  Game on!  How cool is that?

Over the course of the week we walked, bussed, trained, scootered and biked all over the city.   Museums and memorials.  Zoos and gardens.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s home and an old East Berlin brewery.  The very somber Sachsenhausen concentration camp and a very joyful Berlin festival.  And of course… I took my best shot at the marathon. 

Over the course of the week, 2 themes kept coming up.  One was age.  You can’t avoid that topic in the running community.  47,000 of us were competing ‘against our age group’.  I liked that 4 years ago when I was at the front end of the 45-49 year-old category.  Not as much now as a 49 year-old!  It is unavoidable – with your birth year stamped on your race bib for all to see.  But age also came up when people were trying to figure out the connection between Brian and I…and again when we got a personal tour of the Bonhoeffer home from a warm and insightful 72 year-old guide who pointed out that we represented 3 very distinct generations. 

The second theme that kept coming up…and the history of Berlin is prone to do this… was lessons learned from the past.  Every memorial, every monument, every museum or statue seemed to ask the questions “What happened?”, “Why?” or “How can we ensure it doesn’t happen again?”

berlinermauer.jpg

And so, as I fly back with those 2 themes fresh on my mind, I’m eager to be together with the Amberlea family on Sunday.  Prompted by my time away, I plan to contemplate and share on Sunday morning about one brief lesson God has taught me through each decade of life.  Perhaps you want to do some similar reflections?  God desires us to take these moments not only for His Spirit to stir gratitude and develop wisdom in our own lives, but as a means for us to pass along both our own experiences and His Story from generation to generation (Psalm 78:1-7). 

PSALM 78.1-7
Listen, dear friends, to God’s truth,
bend your ears to what I tell you.
I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb;
I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths,
Stories we heard from our fathers,
counsel we learned at our mother’s knee.
We’re not keeping this to ourselves,
we’re passing it along to the next generation—
God’s fame and fortune,
the marvelous things he has done.

He planted a witness in Jacob,
set his Word firmly in Israel,
Then commanded our parents
to teach it to their children
So the next generation would know,
and all the generations to come—
Know the truth and tell the stories
so their children can trust in God,
Never forget the works of God
but keep his commands to the letter.
Heaven forbid they should be like their parents,
bullheaded and bad,
A fickle and faithless bunch
who never stayed true to God.

Almost time for me to land and go buy some Rub A5-35 for my aching legs.  See you Sunday morning!

It’s the Small Things (Guest Blog by Emma Clarke)

I love it when the Bible tells of supernatural things happening out of ordinary acts. For David a tiny stone, through God’s power, was enough to fell a giant (1 Samuel 17). For those who marched around Jericho some notes on a trumpet, through God’s power, were enough to make the walls of a fortified city turn to rubble (Joshua 6).

Its The Small Things Image 1.jpg

Since May, I have been working as the Public Engagement Assistant for Presbyterian World Service & Development, the development and relief agency of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. You may have heard of PWS&D in the wake of an emergency, because of the relief efforts (like those for Hurricane Dorian that you can read about at http://werespond.ca/hurricane-dorian) that PWS&D often engages in through ACT Alliance. You may have had a conversation with someone whose church sponsored a family to Canada as refugees with the support of PWS&D. What I have found the most inspiring since I began learning about PWS&D is this agency’s development programs which focus on food security, health, livelihoods and human rights in order to help communities around the world overcome poverty and build sustainable futures (which you can read about at http://werespond.ca/what-we-do).

Its the Small Things Image 2.jpg

My role at PWS&D largely involves equipping volunteers called Champions to do small things that, through God’s power, are making a big difference. Whether you’re new to Amberlea or an old pal, whether you’re always available or time-crunched, whether you’re shy or charismatic - you, too, can do little things that help bring about a world where everyone has abundant life.

One way to respond to God’s call to care for our sisters and brothers is by contributing financially to programs that are working at the grassroots level to meet their needs for the long-term. I praise God that we live in a country where, when we give small financial gifts through certain organizations, they are often matched. In this way, our tiny contributions grow to do even more than we can imagine.

Something else that has a multiplying effect is learning about the trials people face around the world. What if, in light of World Food Day on October 16, we researched how climate change has been affecting the ability of farmers in Afghanistan to feed their families? Maybe as a result we’d all begin to pack a reusable water bottle or coffee mug, opening up the door to pass on the things we’ve learned to our friends or colleagues who’ve noticed the change.

God has promised in the past: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). As we think about how much healing is needed in the world around us, I also believe that we can make a big difference through the humble act of prayer. Whether spontaneous or inspired by a text like the prayer below from Canadian Foodgrains Bank (a partnership of 15 Canadian churches and church-based agencies working together to end global hunger, of which PWS&D is a member) I believe God hears our petitions, and in compassion, outstretches Holy hands to do far beyond all we could ask or imagine.

God our Father,
in the name of him who gave bread to the hungry,
we remember all who,
through our human ignorance, folly, and sin,
are condemned to live in want.

Show us, who have so much, what we can do
to help those who have so little;
and bless the efforts of those
who work to overcome poverty and hunger,
that sufficient food may be found for all;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.