There is never a bad time to make the choice.
It’s been jokingly said that there is never a good time to have a baby.
Those words are usually uttered to an expectant couple who are nervous. It’s meant to be ironic of course. The baby is coming into the world and best to joyfully prepare for it’s arrival. Focus on the baby, not yourselves and things have much better chance of working out, maybe even beyond your expectations – so the mindset goes.
What is in you waiting to be born? How are you preparing for it’s arrival? Where is your focus?
20 years ago in December 1997, I was in a tight spot. I had been laid off and my severance packaged was tied up in negotiations leaving me with only enough cash on hand to last a month – no joke. I was the only bread-winner at the time. I had two interviews on the go, but Christmas was fast approaching. In my mind there was a slim chance that something would get done. I was wrong. I landed a good job – phew. I’m letting you in on that now, because I’m not the center of this story. I’m only the supporting actor.
The center of the story is the something bigger that was conceived you might say.
In the middle of that I went to deliver some clothing to a street mission in Montreal that served homeless youth – Bon Dieu Dans La Rue – Father Emmett Johns. Maybe some of you knew him. So moved I was by what I saw, the quality of care and the sincerity of the young social worker who gave me a tour, that I wrote a cheque right there on the spot. Literally, in the midst of my stress I did something I thought God wanted me to do. There is something about faith that helps you reach for something that is right and counter-intuitive at the same time.
So into the new year, I start my new job, happy to be working but not so happy to be working. Something was really different. I felt out of sorts. Usually when this happens I buy a book to help change my thoughts. So off I went to Chapters to buy one. Up in the business section is this book with a bold green and gold cover; The Power of Servant Leadership by a fellow named Robert Greenleaf (www.greanleaf.org). Bought it right there on the spot without even perusing the inside notes.
Turns out the book wasn’t really about business at all, but a series of essays about any number of things, all inspired by Greenleaf’s ideas around servant leadership (a movement he founded), ideas honed in part by the considerable time he spent with Quakers at one point.
The book just happened to be in the business section because Robert Greenleaf came out of Corporate America, having risen to the top echelons of AT&T over a 30 year span. He took early retirement in 1964, consumed by a passion to reform authoritarian leadership.
I devoured that book. The irony of my whole situation, going back to being laid-off, finding a new job in the nick of tim and the visit to the street mission, came out of my subconscious and found a permanent place in my heart. Eighteen months later with a house sold and money saved, I quit my job and went to seminary. I like to joke that I started school on the same day that my daughter Helen did. (True story – we left the house on the same day for school – her to kindergarten and me to McGill University)
There is never a bad time in your life to choose to serve something bigger than yourself.
Emotional Intelligence experts tell us these days that 90% of our “success” depends on our emotional and spiritual well being. (Dr. Michael Rock)
Since that time, I have always returned to the same place spiritually. I have never known a time in my life when I didn’t have some concept of God in my heart. And I have always seen church as a place of encounter that in meant to inspire people (rather than control or manipulate) , in good times and bad, to never give up serving the bigger picture. At Carleton Memorial, we say we include people for what they can do, not exclude them for what they can’t.
I know that that lots of sensational things get said about religion and these days I pretty much ignore them. There are too many grounded and faithful people that I serve with in my church that I don’t have the time or energy to get sidetracked.
This Christmas season our theme is: Fine Tuning Your Focus.
The idea being to take the month to slowly prepare spiritually to share Christmas. There is so much rushy-ness out there that I say that this is one thing we should not rush. Think of it as a time to let the messages about your life you know you need to sit with be present – so that those messages can sit with you too. As always the music promises to be uplifting and meaningful. In the middle of all of this we are holding a labyrinth walk on December 16th from 2 -4. More about that another time.
“Fine Tune Your Focus” at CMUC this Christmas season. There is never a bad time to choose to find something beautiful in you that you can share with others.
As promised here are ten reasons you should consider attending:
The important things in your life take time – church provides you an undisturbed hour to make sure you give those things time to germinate and be nurtured.
Your perspective on things will evolve – Carleton Memorial is a progressive church that will challenge you to grow through a compassionate understanding of your neighbour regardless of social status or sexual orientation.
Singing is good for you – There is so much science behind this one that it speaks for itself. As our energetic and enthusiastic choir director Kimberley Allen-McGill likes to say, “When you are singing, you are praying twice”. (Silly Kim still thinks she can teach me to sing – now there’s faith for you!)
Prayer gives you a spiritual work out – Did you know that your brain actually engages when you pray. Even psychologists will tell you that sharing prayers and stories with others is really good for you. Like a great walk in the woods, prayer clears out mental cobwebs.
You will get a sense that you can face the bigness of the world through the wisdom of children – Tessa Wlodarczyk does an outstanding job of sharing our message of the day with our Sunday school through creativity. On most Sunday’s our younger people are teaching our older ones what their take on life is and should be.
You will find additional balance in your life – by meeting people from various walks of life there is a peace that is found that only hanging out with your peers can’t provide. Speaking of meeting people – our trusty administrator Agnes Malkinson would be happy to put you on our newsletter mailing list. Service with a smile – that’s Agnes.
You will discover how you are called to serve the greater good – A good church is like a “spiritual half-way house” where what we learn there we put into practice in the world. Working to make the world better, even only slightly better, has great returns for you personally and others.
You will find more positivity in your life – by living out hopeful messages on the one hand and being part of a community that is not afraid to confront fear, cynicism and despair on the other.
People will be happy to see you and you will look forward to seeing people – Isn’t that the spice of life? To make life about people and not things?
You will have FUN – I almost wan’t to dare you to say you didn’t have fun, but that wouldn’t be fair. But seriously, put aside your ideas of church as boring. Our messages will feed you for a life you lead today (not a 100 years ago let alone 2000). Our musical soundtrack, as Kimberley Allen-McGill and I like to call it, reflects that. Often she has a mix of of secular but spiritually inspired music that mesh with our Christian selections. Always inspirational.
So there you have it. What is in you waiting to be born? How are you preparing for it’s arrival? Where is your focus?
Have a great day!
Be blessed. Be a blessing.
Rev. Eric Lukacs