About Susan Taylor

Posts by Susan Taylor:

AN EVENING OF MUSICAL EXCELLENCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22 – 7:00 pm
A fundraising concert at FGUC organized by the FGUC Choir.
This evening will showcase an all professional program of performers:
Charmaine Bacon – flute
Rachel Dyck, piano
Andrew Erikson – guitar
Deena Greer – piano
Marlise Ritchie – soprano vocals
Leandro Saltarelli – cello
The Divas – choral

There will be a “meet & greet”
and refreshments after the concert! Tickets for this amazing
musical evening are $20. Call the office at 204-475-1586
for tickets, or email fguc@shaw.ca.

LEAP DAY PARTY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEAP DAY PARTY – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 5 – 7 PM
at FGUC, cohosted with Spirit Path and Family Dynamics.
Bring your friends and neighbors! Come out and join us for a
fun filled evening of food, games and activities in the upper hall.
All are welcome to this interfaith, intercultural and
intergenerational event. ($15 suggested donation per family,

SNOW SCULPTURE ON CHURCH LAWN!


We are grateful for the artistic talents of Daniel Friesen
for the snow sculpture on our church lawn! This is the
second time he has created a snow sculpture for us,
utilizing the materials of nature!

ECO-FRIENDLY TIPS TO PROTECT OUR EARTH

 

 

 

 

 

At Fort Garry United Church we are keen to do our part
in eco-friendly actions to protect our water, our health, &
our climate. As responsible citizens we are undertaking
and recommending that we all try to follow
these plastic reduction strategies and tips:

WEEKLY HINTS RE: PLASTIC USE:

1. Your blue & black rolling carts
• remember that all loose & dry garbage does
not need to be in garbage bags
• if your bins are not full wait until they are full,
saving time & energy, as the truck won’t need to stop

2. Shop at stores that no longer give out plastic bags
• and let them know of your approval
• bring your own reusable bags

3. Going out to eat?
• Take your own containers for leftovers or insist
on compostable ones

February 16, 2020 – Life Commandments

Text:  Deuteronomy 30:15-20;  Matthew 5:21-37

Have you ever wondered why you keep repeating certain phrases whether they are your own mottos or someone else’s? Even if you don’t express them verbally, they can still drive your behaviour. They are called life commandments. John Savage, a United Methodist Minister and author of Listening and Caring Skills defines Life commandments as deep inner belief systems that act as the integral guidance gyros of your mind. A life commandment is possible because the human mind is capable of believing anything! That’s very scary yet hopeful at the same time. Our life commandments work as long as we believe them. However, they are not our ultimate commandments. We can break them. Sometimes we must break them, however difficult it may be to do so, and make new commandments.

In my 20s and early 30s, I had this thought that there was no one in the world I could trust, and that I was all alone in the world. The real problem was that I believed it. So I did my best to be independent, and I barely listened to anyone’s advice. I tried to be the director of my life, making my own path and future without getting any help from others. Later I learned that the life commandment I had was my coping mechanism for rejection I experienced in my infancy.

When my mother was pregnant with me, she already had two young children, 4 and 6 year old. She was raising them while my father was away from home. He put his business over his family, leaving all the responsibilities, including looking after his parents and siblings, to his wife. My mother was under extreme stress, worried about adding more burden to her already full and impossible task. One day, my mother decided to abort her baby, and her mother-in-law agreed to go along with her. On the night before they were going to the hospital, my mother went to the church to pray at 10 pm. It was her regular daily prayer time alone in the sanctuary. For some reason, she couldn’t pray. It was as if somebody was interrupting and stopping her. And she heard the voice of the Spirit saying, ‘Don’t do it.’ She realized that the Holy Spirit invited her to reconsider her decision. So, she decided to deliver me.

What a life-giving story for me! I thank God that my mom changed her mind. Actually my mother told me the story last week. In preparation for my reflection, I wanted to find out what exactly happened regarding my birth and infancy. Through all those years I knew a much simpler story that my father wanted me while my mother didn’t. I grew up with confusion that how come I was raised by a parent who didn’t want me, while the other parent, who wanted me, actually left me before I was born. Some life commandments must be checked out.

Another life commandment began when I was in grade 1. The academic year in South Korea begins in March. Those who were born in January or February can start going to school one year earlier than those who were born between March and December in the same year. Born in February, I was one of the younger ones in my class. My mother worried about me. She wasn’t sure if I was ready or if I was smart enough to catch up. One day, after school, I was walking down the street along with my grade 1 teacher and my classmates. My mother was also walking alongside the teacher. They were talking about me! I was able to overhear her concern asking the teacher, “Do you think he will catch up with his peers? Or should I have him drop out so he can start school next year?” The teacher assured my worried mother that I would be okay, but she wasn’t convinced. Pointing at my shoes, she said, “Look at how he put on his shoes! They are on the wrong feet!” I was embarrassed. The real problem was that I believed that I wasn’t smart enough. I believed the commandment for the next 20 years until I was finally able to find my voice and academic achievement in the seminary.

Some life commandments are harder to break especially when our shame is involved, and we try to mask or numb our painful feelings. Fritz Kunkel, one of the earliest psychiatrists, believed that we, as adults, carry on our backs a shell like that of a turtle. That shell is made up of lies that we still believe are truths, and the function of adult life is to rid ourselves of that shell, so that we come to the end of life knowing only the truth for us.

When we hear people say ‘I can’t sing’, ‘I can’t dance’, ‘I can’t draw’ or ‘I am not good at this and that’ we can feel not only the pain they carry, but also the truth they haven’t expressed yet. Everyone has their own life commandments. They make us unique. No one else believes what you believe. The question is how we can help each other to rework or disobey our life commandments so we can live our lives as God intends us to live?

Jesus knew our need to break the old and to live the new. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” In today’s gospel reading, three times we hear him say “you have heard that it was said, but I say to you…” He invites us to reorient our lives by giving up what is no longer true to us, and to embrace what gives us life.

A few Sundays ago, I was inspired by a fresh perspective when a congregant told me after church “You’ve got a life-giving congregation.” Her point was that most of the people in the congregation come on Sunday without any agendas. They have time to listen, and they know how to care for anyone who walks into the building. And that is a gift we can offer to the wider community. I was thinking, ‘what a great way to live and share the good news we have been given!’ That can be a new life commandment for our church. This new life commandment of ours requires no sacrifice. Instead, we can taste and participate in the life abundant Jesus promises to give us all. It works as long as we believe it.

ECO-FRIENDLY TIPS TO PROTECT OUR EARTH

 

At Fort Garry United Church we are keen to do our part
in eco-friendly actions to protect our water, our health, &
our climate. As responsible citizens we are undertaking
and recommending that we all try to follow
these plastic reduction strategies and tips:

WEEKLY HINTS RE: PLASTIC USE:

1. Your blue & black rolling carts
• remember that all loose & dry garbage does
not need to be in garbage bags
• if your bins are not full wait until they are full,
saving time & energy, as the truck won’t need to stop

2. Shop at stores that no longer give out plastic bags
• and let them know of your approval
• bring your own reusable bags

3. Going out to eat?
• Take your own containers for leftovers or insist
on compostable ones

February 10, 2020 – Why not Become Light

Text:  Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20


A story from the Desert Fathers. Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said, “Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence. And according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts. Now what more should I do?” The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said, “Why not become fire?”

I like this story from the Desert Fathers. I can identify with Abba Lot. Deep in my heart I carry a sense of burden that I am not doing enough. I find myself asking, am I doing enough to love my family? Am I doing enough to minister to the congregation? Am I doing enough to care for my community and the environment? Even the idea of self-care can become a thing. I ask myself, do I love myself enough?

This kind of thinking can also lead into a more insecure question. Am I enough? Am I good enough? I remember one colleague in ministry, whose sigh of relief found an echo in a room filled with ministers attending a retreat. It was during a workshop about how to renew ministry, the presenter said to us, “The decline of the church attendance is not your fault!” My colleague who always looked confident stood up saying “I need to hear that kind of affirmation not just once but every so often.” Her statement made me aware of the burden she was carrying: the burden of guilt and inadequacy.

Perhaps, Abba Lot had a similar burden in his spiritual life. He kept the rule, fast, prayer and meditation as best as he could, and yet he still felt not enough. Abba Joseph’s response – “Why not become fire?” – pointed out what it was that Abba Lot was missing. It was not that he didn’t do enough but that he distanced himself from his spiritual practice. As long as he remained in dualistic way of thinking between what’s spiritual and what’s mundane, he would continue to suffer from the inadequacy. Abba Lot could break through the gap by becoming what he was longing for. Or better yet, he just needed to realize that there was nothing he could achieve that he didn’t already have.

Jesus is an expert in non-dualistic thinking. “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” He didn’t mean us to work toward something that we’re not already. He wants us to embrace our core identity, and do everything as who we are as the salt and the light. So, whether we pray, sing, worship, work, rest, eat, sleep, play, exercise we do it inside out.

It is still possible to live a divided life by forgetting who we are. As Jesus warns us, sometimes we do lose our saltiness, and hide our light, and we become timid and fearful. Sometimes church is like that. The church without saltiness or light. Nothing is more frightening than that.

I often hear people lament the loss of younger people in the church. I totally get that. We all want to pass on what we’ve been given to the next generation. We must, however, focus on how to live the gospel of Jesus Christ as a church, not how to be an attractive church. We can become more interested in people from all walks of life and engage them, not necessarily become an interesting church. For, people will notice when we live out our calling as authentically as possible. I also hear people express their concerns about how the church is losing its passion for social justice. We are the church that once dreamed and practiced “Thy will be done one earth as it is in heaven” with the social gospel movement. I wonder if the real issue is not so much losing the passion for justice as the separation of justice and spirituality as if they are different. We have suffered the consequence of the separation. Now is the time for the church to integrate the two – spirituality and justice. For, worshipping God and working for justice are one.

Isaiah gives us a clear path as to how to solve our dilemma. “I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives. Then your light will shine like the dawning sun, and you will quickly be healed.”

I can’t find a more clear answer than what we’ve just heard. We come to worship God not because we want to feel good, but because we are called to celebrate God’s presence in the midst of brokenness and suffering in the world. We are also called to do the will of God right where we are as we worship the God of justice and compassion. We must reclaim the saltiness and light, the prophetic voice in each of us. When we live inside out, we can be assured that we are doing enough, and we are enough.

I’d like to end my reflection with a story from Sufism:

Past the seeker as he prayed came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten. And seeing them he cried, “Great God, how is it that a loving creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?” God said, “I did do something. I made you.”

FEBRUARY 2, 2020 – WE CAN’T NOT TELL OUR STORY

Text: Matthew 5:1-12

You can’t not tell your story. That has been one of the most important learning in my clinical pastoral education training. Everyone has a story. That’s a fact. And everyone wants to be heard. If we believe that, and if we take time to listen to each other’s story, we can bring about a meaningful change to our lives and our communities. It’s not that some people have stories while others don’t.

It’s that some stories are more evident than other stories. It is true that some people are more vocal than others, but even those of us, who are reserved, can speak the loudest with body language. The question is how we can listen those stories that are not obvious.

Every Tuesday I go to visit patients in the hospital as a part of my training. Almost all patients are polite and appreciative of the visit, but not all of them are open. Some of them are very clear that they don’t want a visit, and I usually respect that. By setting a clear boundary, patients can feel empowered. Often spiritual care is the only service they are entitled to say no, and still feel okay. There are times, however, I can sense that they are still spiritually hungry even if they say no. They say one thing, but usually mean another, and it’s my job to figure out what it is that they are looking for.

I encountered a self-proclaimed atheist who said to me, “I am the most serious atheist you can get.” We ended up spending the next 40 minutes talking about his life, community and family including his daughter who was baptized. On another occasion, I was told that I was welcome to stay only for 10 minutes and after that I could leave her room with a prayer. We ended up spending more than 1 hour together with her daughter who was present in the room. It was one of the most meaningful and spiritual conversations I’ve ever had.
You can’t not tell your story. If we are willing to listen to not only spoken words, but behind or beyond the spoken words, we can still communicate in a deep way. For, heart speaks to heart, spirit speaks to spirit and deep speaks to deep.

Sometimes we tell our story by telling someone else’s story. Someone I knew came to see me one day. Entering my office, she began to tell me a news she recently heard. It was a story of how a terrible incident turned into a story of forgiveness and redemption. A police officer in the US killed a man, who was mistaken as a suspect. The family of the deceased offered forgiveness to the officer. While listening to her story, I was wondering what’s going on with her. Later I became convinced that she was actually telling me her story by sharing someone else’s story; she believed in a miracle of forgiveness and redemption despite the challenge and hardship she was going through.

Stories are often told on an unconscious level. We don’t always know why we tell stories. So, pay attention to what you say or hear. You will get to know more about yourself and those you care about by hearing stories. Look around you and see if you know anyone’s story, who is here. Can you hear above and beyond what you can hear? Can you enter into a heart to heart communication with those around you? What kind of story do you find yourself telling others about our church? If God tells the world about Fort Garry United Church with a story, what kind of story would that be? Or if God sings a song to the world about us, what kind of song or hymn would that be?

On the surface level, we are definitely an aging congregation. Our volunteers are getting tired and irreplaceable. The demographic gap between Sunday morning and the rest of the week is significant. On a deeper level, however, we are more than a grandma’s or grandpa’s church. You have demonstrated God’s unconditional love by welcoming, caring, embracing and nurturing without limits. You have proven to be generous in sharing with life-long commitment and dedication. You are the most musical congregation I know. Passion for spirituality and concern for justice have always been at the heart of the life of the congregation. What comes with aging is wisdom and a wealth of experience that the younger generation desperately needs. We have learned that we can’t care for one another and ourselves without caring for where we belong. Caring for all creation is our ultimate vocation. Still, we are more than all of the above. None of us can tell our story to the fullest. However imperfect our story may be, it can be complete, whole and full in the light of God’s story.

That is what happens in the Sermon on the Mount. Most of those who have followed Jesus all the way from their hometowns to the mountain are sick with various diseases and pains. They are marginalized and outcasts. They know the pain of loneliness and rejection. They probably have lots of stories to tell: how they are poor in spirit, how they mourn, how they are meek, and how they hunger and thirst for righteousness. Yet, none of their stories are complete until they are told as part of God’s story. What they are lacking because of their social locations opens them up to the new spiritual realm. They can reclaim their identity not by what they do but by whose they are. And based on that, they can strive to make right relationships with everyone and everything.
We can’t not tell our story however imperfect it may be. The question is how Jesus would complete our story. Blessed are we, as we all take part in God’s life-giving and never ending love story.

PLASTIC REDUCTION STRATEGIES: PROTECT OUR WATER and OUR HEALTH

 

Of all the plastic waste generated in Canada, only an estimated 9% is recycled. The other 91% is either landfilled, incinerated with energy recovery techniques or lost within the environment.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
INDIVIDUAL STRATEGIES
1. Avoid buying products (e.g. soap, salad dressings) in plastic containers, bags or wrap.
2. Take your own containers for deli or bulk products.
3. Refuse plastic bags or styrofoam. Take your own in a variety of sizes.
4. Avoid plastic for leftover food or lunches. Reuse containers or beeswax wraps.
5. Gift others with mesh bags, glass containers or coffee mugs.

COLLECTIVE ACTIONS
1. Speak to managers at stores and businesses about plastic free options.
2. For group events plan plastic free, compostable options for plates, glasses, tablecloths.
3. Email your local politicians supporting strategies that reduce use of plastics.
4. Let others know about places to shop or eat that have good options.

TIPS FOR LIVING WITH LESS PLASTICS

1. Bring your own shopping and produce bags.
2. Bring your own coffee mugs and water bottles.
3. Pack lunches in reusable containers.
4. Avoid plastic or styrofoam containers/cutlery/straws.
5. Tell businesses and friends of your preferences.
6. Carry your own straw or don’t use one.
7. Eat at home!

TIPS FOR LIVING WITH LESS PLASTICS

1. Bring your own shopping and produce bags.
2. Bring your own coffee and water containers.
3. Pack lunches in resusable containers.
4. Avoid plastic or styrofoam containers/cutlery/straws.
5. Tell businesses and friends of your preferences.
6. Carry your own straw or don’t use one.
7. Eat at home!

PLASTIC REDUCTION STRATEGIES: PROTECT OUR WATER and OUR HEALTH

Of all the plastic waste generated in Canada, only an estimated 9% is recycled. The other 91% is either landfilled, incinerated with energy recovery techniques or lost within the environment.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
INDIVIDUAL STRATEGIES
1. Avoid buying products (e.g. soap, salad dressings) in plastic containers, bags or wrap.
2. Take your own containers for deli or bulk products.
3. Refuse plastic bags or styrofoam. Take your own in a variety of sizes.
4. Avoid plastic for leftover food or lunches. Reuse containers or beeswax wraps.
5. Gift others with mesh bags, glass containers or coffee mugs.

COLLECTIVE ACTIONS
1. Speak to managers at stores and businesses about plastic free options.
2. For group events plan plastic free, compostable options for plates, glasses, tablecloths.
3. Email your local politicians supporting strategies that reduce use of plastics.
4. Let others know about places to shop or eat that have good option

“AN EVENING OF EXCELLENCE”

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22 – 7:00 pm
A fundraising concert at Fort Garry United Church organized by the FGUC Choir.
This evening will showcase Charmaine Bacon – flute,
Rachel Dyck – piano, Andrew Erikson – guitar, The Divas – choral,
and Marlise Ritchie – solo vocals. There will be a “meet and greet”
and refreshments after the concert! Tickets for this amazing
musical evening are $20. Call the office at 204-475-1586
for tickets, or email fguc@shaw.ca.