Spirituality – Neil A. Ellis http://neilaellis.com An Exploration of Faith in Life Wed, 06 Sep 2017 02:27:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 29662245 Share the Warmth of God’s Love this Summer http://neilaellis.com/2017/08/share-warmth-gods-love-summer/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed Fri, 04 Aug 2017 12:00:39 +0000 http://neilaellis.com/?p=694 I’ve just returned to work after some time off. It is hard to believe that summer, as we define it as July and August, is half gone. Don’t tell the kids, but they’ll be back to school before they know it. It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly […]

The post Share the Warmth of God’s Love this Summer appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
hospitality, summerI’ve just returned to work after some time off. It is hard to believe that summer, as we define it as July and August, is half gone. Don’t tell the kids, but they’ll be back to school before they know it. It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly time flows by. Plans that were set in motion months ago, are coming to fruition and many a well-intentioned project will need to wait for another year.

Summer is also a time when we open our doors and welcome people in. Whether it is an invitation to the cottage, a BBQ or a walk along the boardwalk the summer season finds us engaging with our neighbours. In the winter we wave as we shovel our drives, in summer we walk over, discuss gardens and what the weekend will bring.

in Cobourg, we welcome many visitors to our town during the summer. They come and enjoy the beach, the shops and the ability to relax with family and friends. As they travel through our community what is the welcome they receive? Businesses rely heavily on the tourists who travel to our community, do we welcome people or are we ambivalent to their presence, perhaps viewing it as a nuisance.

The gospels are full of accounts where Jesus and the disciples visit villages. Usually, the welcome is warm, but there was the occasion where Jesus was almost thrown off a cliff. In addition to travelling to villages, Jesus often taught and spoke to large gatherings of people who were interested in the message he shared about God’s kingdom. In each of these instances Jesus extends hospitality and grace to the people that he encounters. His actions serve as a reminder on how we should interact with the people who cross our paths.

It raises the question, what does it mean to welcome people? Is it allowing them to enter our space in peace? Should we go beyond this and actively welcome people? As church’s and communities of faith this question has further reaching implications, how do we welcome newcomers into the worshiping community? Is our response different for people raised in the church versus those who have never darkened the door of a sanctuary? Do we extend the same welcome to the rich and poor alike?

Are our churches welcoming places? When people visit, whether for the first or hundredth time, is the hospitality and grace that Jesus offered to those who followed him given to those who seek to follow him today?

I don’t know if it’s true, but I once read that most people ‘shop’ for a new church during the summer. A time of year when find ourselves enjoying the warm weather and increased interactions with our neighbours. The reality is that people are asking spiritual questions, questions of deep faith all the time. Are we ready to engage with them, to welcome and love them, just as Jesus welcomes and loves us?

Before the warmth of summer fades ensure that you share the hospitality and grace of Jesus with those that you encounter on the road.

The post Share the Warmth of God’s Love this Summer appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
694
On Christmas Eve All is Made Ready http://neilaellis.com/2016/12/christmas-eve-made-ready/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed Sat, 24 Dec 2016 13:00:33 +0000 http://neilaellis.com/?p=629 It’s time. Christmas Eve has finally arrived. After a long month of Christmas music being played on radio stations, Christmas gatherings with friends and shopping which never seems to end we have arrived. The long weeks of Advent and our preparation for Christmas are over. All is made ready. The […]

The post On Christmas Eve All is Made Ready appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
christmas-eveIt’s time. Christmas Eve has finally arrived. After a long month of Christmas music being played on radio stations, Christmas gatherings with friends and shopping which never seems to end we have arrived. The long weeks of Advent and our preparation for Christmas are over. All is made ready.

The scene is set: Mary and Joseph are once again in the manger. The Shepherds have been placed in the fields and angels are in flight. The star hangs low in the sky lighting the way for all. As the mad rush of December fades into the background, the calm serenity of Christmas Eve takes over. The reason for the music, the cause for celebration and the inspiration for our gifts is before us. Are we ready?

As we prepare to sit down with family or to go out to church we are struck by the fact that Christmas is now here. Often we feel unsettled as we have been so busy over the last month that we are not sure what to do with ourselves now that we have the time to enjoy the moment. We are anxious and perhaps that is because we are still anticipating Christmas. There is still one gift to be given and it is not a gift that we can wrap. However, it is the one gift which we all receive.

We receive the gift which underwrites the true meaning of Christmas. God’s gift to creation in the form of a baby. We describe the Nativity as a serene and pastoral event. Of God’s love made flesh for all to see. We sing carols such as Silent Night which while beautiful fail to capture the reality of Jesus’ birth. Conceived in miraculous circumstances, yet born in ones which were far too ordinary.

If you have children or have ever visited a working farm you know what I am speaking off. Child birth and caring for livestock are not normally clean and peaceful events. There is something refreshing about how God chose to enter the world. The location of the birth, the witnesses to it all speak to God’s holy mystery and of God’s great love for creation. The birth of Jesus Christ is a gift for all people.

If you are feeling anxious tonight, if you have butterflies in your stomach, if you are feeling unsettled it is because you have a gift to receive. One that is offered freely. This gift embodies the hope, peace, joy and love which is found at Christmas. This gift is the love of God, represented in the Son.

Tonight as you anticipate the joy of Christmas I encourage you to gather with family and friends. Surround yourself with people you love, sing the carols which move our souls. Visit your local church, give thanks for the many gifts you have been given and receive again the gift which changes lives.

The scene is set, all is made ready. Enter in and receive God’s love.

  • On Christmas Eve All is Made Ready was first published in the Northumberland Today on December 24, 2015.

The post On Christmas Eve All is Made Ready appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
629
Christmas, A Time for Stories http://neilaellis.com/2016/12/christmas-a-time-for-stories/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed Mon, 12 Dec 2016 13:00:52 +0000 http://neilaellis.com/?p=624 In the weeks that lead up to the hustle and bustle of Christmas no doubt many a television set will tune in to a wide variety of Christmas movies. Whether it’s a Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Scrooged or the Grinch families will be entertained. These movies tell […]

The post Christmas, A Time for Stories appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
storiesIn the weeks that lead up to the hustle and bustle of Christmas no doubt many a television set will tune in to a wide variety of Christmas movies. Whether it’s a Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Scrooged or the Grinch families will be entertained. These movies tell stories which we enjoy, they amuse us, move us and many encourage us to become better than we are.

Christmas is a time for stories. We hear these stories in the movies we watch, the books we read and the conversations we have. We regale them when we gather with family and friends. Our stories remind us of who we are and of where we have come from. Stories form part of our social identity and they comprise our oral history.

Stories come in a variety of formats. Movies, television, books, poetry and music. These mediums inform a part of who we are and explain how we understand our surroundings. Each of these becomes a part of our story.

Music is an influential part of how I understand my own story. Dancing with my wife to Michael Bublé on our wedding night, remembering the song from a particular summer or music which helped me through a difficult time. One song which forms a part of my story references another favourite story. In U2’s Wake Up Dead Man we hear the following, “Tell me the story, the one about eternity and the way it’s all going to be.”

This is a story that I am interested in, the one about eternity. This is the story which is at the heart of Christmas. A story which begins all stories and it is the story to end all stories. It is rich with drama, intrigue, compassion and mystery. A story that we get caught up in, our own lives become entangled with the family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

We can relate to the many characters we find in the story. The pregnant mother, the worried father, new parents in a strange and scary world. The innkeeper who showed compassion and provided a meager place to stay. We wonder about the angels who bore witness to the event or perhaps we share the curiosity of the shepherds; we wonder and question about this child. Perhaps we come as the magi did with gifts of love and a desire to learn.

The Nativity is a story which endures because it tells us of the birth of Jesus and it is central to understanding how God interacted with creation. However, it has also captured our imaginations because of the uniquely human drama it portrays. Christmas evokes emotions of wonder, fear, majesty, sadness, curiosity, anger and love.

It is a story which whether we realize it or are willing to admit it has shaped our own story. The nativity has coloured our understanding of the world. That at Christmas God elected to join with creation in the most vulnerable way to share in our joy and our sorrow, our pain and our hope.

As we approach Christmas I encourage you to share the hope and joy that is found in the old, old story of God’s love.

* A Time for Stories first appeared in the Northumberland Today on December 10, 2015.

The post Christmas, A Time for Stories appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
624
Hope is a Star http://neilaellis.com/2016/11/hope-is-a-star/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed Tue, 15 Nov 2016 13:00:14 +0000 http://neilaellis.com/?p=621 You have probably already noticed the Christmas decorations and displays in stores. I believe it was just before Hallowe’en when I spotted my first one. The Santa Claus parade has come and gone which tells us that the Christmas shopping season is well underway! I find it a curious thing […]

The post Hope is a Star appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
hope-is-a-starYou have probably already noticed the Christmas decorations and displays in stores. I believe it was just before Hallowe’en when I spotted my first one. The Santa Claus parade has come and gone which tells us that the Christmas shopping season is well underway! I find it a curious thing that before the kids are able to dress up and before we are able to honour our veteran’s, displays and advertising are reminding us that Old St. Nick will soon appear.

After all that is what the Christmas season is about, isn’t it? The holiday wars have been waged for a number of years. Is it the ‘holidays’ or is it ‘Christmas’? Depending on what you believe you will call it one thing or another. I am not one of those Christians who needs to ‘put Christ back in Christmas’. For me Christ has never left Christmas, rather I think many of us have enjoyed this holiday for the wrong reasons.

We gather with family and with friends. We celebrate over a meal and with gifts. It is and will remain a wonderful time. However, it says little about Christmas. Yes, we will attend church service on Christmas Eve and we will once again welcome the Christ child into our lives. We will then return home and the next morning we will open gifts and prepare to shop again on Boxing Day. Little thought remains of the little child born so long ago.

If it sounds like I am jaded well perhaps I am. I confess that even as a minister Christmas is not my favourite time of year. I dread Christmas and the expectations it brings. So little of these expectations have anything to do with Christmas. The expectation to buy gifts, attending gatherings or parties, listening to Christmas or holiday songs for a full month, none of it fills me with cheer.

Now, before you go calling me a Grinch let me share why. When I consider the miracle of the nativity story I feel the joy of Mary and Joseph. I tremble with the fear and wonder that the shepherds must have felt. I share the wisdom and curiosity the magi must have experienced. However, I also fear that too many of us share the lack of hospitality that was shown in Bethlehem that night.

Hungry, alone, homeless and seeking refuge they found none. That any child, let alone God’s son, should be born in a manger tells us much. I suppose I long for a Christmas that sees the greatest gift given being that of our time and our love.

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. This Sunday we will celebrate Hope. Hope is a star and it is my hope that each of us might be a beacon of light in a dark world. That as we move through Advent towards Christmas and the birth of Jesus we might give the gift of light and hope to the world.

  • Hope is a Star was first published in the Northumberland Today on November 26, 2015.

The post Hope is a Star appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
621
Level the Playing Field as Seen Through Isaiah http://neilaellis.com/2016/09/level-playing-field-through-isaiah/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed Thu, 01 Sep 2016 23:00:27 +0000 http://neilaellis.com/?p=637 Scripture is full of wonderful promises from God and the Book of Isaiah contains its fair share. We read: Fill every valley; level every mountain. The hills will become a plain, and the rough country will be made smooth. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people […]

The post Level the Playing Field as Seen Through Isaiah appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
Valley, IsaiahScripture is full of wonderful promises from God and the Book of Isaiah contains its fair share. We read:

Fill every valley;
level every mountain.
The hills will become a plain,
and the rough country will be made smooth.
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it.
The Lord himself has promised this. – Isaiah 40: 4-5

Taken literally this passage from Isaiah describes how God might reshape the Earth and mend it to his will. It conjures imagery of destruction and devastation. What Isaiah is describing is less of physical restructuring the Earth and instead is pointing to a future ideal. Isaiah is describing the Kingdom of God.

Writing to people living in exile, Isaiah and other prophets describe the characteristics of the Kingdom. Jesus himself also stressed what the Kingdom should look like and described what Kingdom behaviour is.

What we read in Isaiah is a leveling of the playing field, where each individual will be provided for equally. Every valley shall be filled, every mountain brought low, hills will become a plain and rough country made smooth. Isaiah is not describing terraforming, he is writing about how society has created different tiers. There are people who are wealthy and many people who are poor. Within the Kingdom of God this is not equitable.

Isaiah points to a different future where this will change. Not so that the rich or elite need to be humbled, but because the poor, the lame, the crippled, the widows and the orphans need to be lifted up. God is interested in a level playing field. God desires circumstances which care for all people. The message of scripture is clear, yet it has not been heeded. We very often assume that God wants to provide a level playing field for ‘us’. Scripture is read as if we were the important aspect in the dialogue. While we are important to God, so is everyone else!

Throughout time various movement have arisen due to injustice. The Black Lives Matter movement seeks to bring attention to the discrimination that one community is facing. They campaign nor for more rights, but an equal footing. It requires calling out the disparity in order to receive equality. Feminism arose as a movement because women were not properly respected and that needed to change. These two examples are only just two issues that require attention and my description of them is very general. Isaiah reminds us that God is interested in equality for all people.

How equality will be reached will differ from case to case, from generation to generation. What Isaiah describes a time when God will be with us. When we will be equal with one another. However, we should not wait for God’s arrival. We are pointed towards a changed future. A future that will be better for all people. It is incumbent upon us to start that change now.

The post Level the Playing Field as Seen Through Isaiah appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
637
Invitations Are Often Unexpected http://neilaellis.com/2016/08/invitations-unexpected/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed Mon, 22 Aug 2016 12:00:02 +0000 http://neilaellis.com/?p=632 Invitations are wonderful things. They open doors to new opportunities allowing us to experience the world in different ways. Each of us receives and provides invitations in a wide variety of ways. When we think about invitations it might normally be in the context of an evening out, to a […]

The post Invitations Are Often Unexpected appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
invitationsInvitations are wonderful things. They open doors to new opportunities allowing us to experience the world in different ways. Each of us receives and provides invitations in a wide variety of ways. When we think about invitations it might normally be in the context of an evening out, to a child’s birthday party, a wedding or an anniversary. However, there a variety of ways that we can extend an invitation.

From a faith perspective we often talk about inviting someone to church. An invitation into the worshiping life of a community of faith. For many it is a welcome invitation, but for others the invitation itself is a stumbling block. What does it mean to be invited to church? How should I act, how should I dress? Will I know what to do?

There is a story about two young girls one a Baptist and the other Presbyterian. They decided to experience each other’s church services. They went first to the Baptist service, when the friend had questions they were answered. The following week they attended the Presbyterian service, again all questions were answered. However, when it came time for the sermon the Baptist girl noted that the minister took his watch off and placed it on the pulpit. She asked what this meant.

The Presbyterian girl’s father leaned over and replied in a thick Scottish accent, “Absolutely nothing.”

Invitations come with expectations and they may contain assumptions that we have created. For example not all Presbyterians are Scottish. Often these expectations and assumptions prove to be false, however the barrier they create causes us to prejudge the people we meet and the experiences we might enjoy. How we invite others and how we receive invitations impacts our world in profound ways.

There is an old Cherokee teaching about life. A grandfather is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me. It is between two wolves. One is evil, his anger, envy, greed, arrogance and pride. The other is good, he is joy, peace, love, hope and humility.”

The grandson thought about this for a moment and then asked, “Which wolf wins?”

“The one you feed” came the reply.

What do you invite into your life? How does it shape and influence you? Do you feed the traits which create a division between you and others? Or do seek out invitations which allow peace and joy to prosper?

In Matthew’s gospel Jesus tells us “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” God has already made an invitation to each of us. How we choose to respond to that invitation is up to us. It is my prayer that each of us will respond with open hearts full of love because with God’s invitation we need but knock and enter in.

Unexpected Invitations was first published in the Northumberland Today on January 21, 2016.

The post Invitations Are Often Unexpected appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
632
Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner? http://neilaellis.com/2016/08/hate-sin-love-sinner/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed Fri, 19 Aug 2016 12:00:43 +0000 http://neilaellis.com/?p=616 I have heard it told that sinners are closer to God than others. How is this possible you might ask? The explanation goes that God holds each of us by a string. When we sin, we cut that string. God catches the falling end of the string and ties it […]

The post Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner? appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
sinI have heard it told that sinners are closer to God than others. How is this possible you might ask? The explanation goes that God holds each of us by a string. When we sin, we cut that string. God catches the falling end of the string and ties it up again, bringing us a little closer. Again and again the string gets cut and with each knot you are drawn closer to God. The good news about this analogy is that we are all sinners and therefore all close God.

Sin can be a touchy subject. Some people like to share the different ways they have sinned. Some seek forgiveness and others do not. That’s the world we live in. Still others are ashamed of their sin and prefer to keep their confession between them and God. An expression has arisen about sin: hate the sin and love the sinner. This adage arises from the knowledge that we are all sinners and worthy of love. Sin is referenced as those things that we do which harm others and which offend God.

The trouble with this expression is that a tone of judgement overshadows the reference to loving the individual. By uttering this statement, I appear to be judging someone else. Asserting that I am better than you or my sin is less significant. We should all be mindful of inappropriate behaviour in others however it pays to be mindful of the fact that we are probably also less than perfect.

We all sin, it’s just that our sin has different colours. Representing the different methods that we make mistakes. What I might consider a sin you may laugh off and vice versa. Perhaps what is really at fault is the way we think about sin in the first place. In his book The Cross in Our Context Canadian Theologian Douglas John Hall writes, “Christians have allowed this profoundly biblical conception [sin], which refers to broken relationship, to be reduced to sins – moral misdemeanors and guilty ‘thoughts, words and deeds’…”

Hall’s explanation on sin is not designed to remove emphasis from moral and ethical misdemeanors. Rather it is intended to emphasis that we have misplaced our focus of relationship. Specifically, our relationship with God and secondly with one another. It is the brokenness of our relationships which leads to behaviour which is harmful and hurtful.

If we are going to love the sinner we need to see past the sin. We need to acknowledge that loving the sinner includes loving ourselves. Less judgement and greater focus on relationships is the order of the day. We should not be content to render a verdict about someone based on their behaviour when we have not taken the time to develop a relationship with them.

God is interested in mending fences and repairing strings, focusing on a relationship with each of us. God sees the poor behaviour; how can he miss it when Christ took it all upon himself on the cross. However, God did all this in order to develop a relationship with us. Because God loves us.

  • Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner? was originally published in the Northumberland Today on August 18, 2016.

The post Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner? appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
616
Will You Love Me Forever http://neilaellis.com/2016/02/will-you-love-me-forever/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed Tue, 01 Mar 2016 00:00:33 +0000 http://neilaellis.com/?p=610 “Dad, how was God born?” This is the question my five year old innocently asked as I was putting him to bed. It was followed by a series of other questions, “Can God fly? How does God see everything? Is God an old man?” The questions caught me off guard, […]

The post Will You Love Me Forever appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
child, love“Dad, how was God born?”

This is the question my five year old innocently asked as I was putting him to bed. It was followed by a series of other questions, “Can God fly? How does God see everything? Is God an old man?” The questions caught me off guard, if only because they were not what I was expecting to be asked by a sleepy little boy.

They are and remain good questions and I attempted to answer them as best as I could. However, as my son has asked the questions again the next day I realize that my answer did not satisfy his inquisitive mind or that he was still thinking about the explanations I provided. As a minister being asked questions about God, faith, and the church is a normal occurrence. I am supposed to have answers about these questions. When being asked them by a child in kindergarten it seems I may have some work to do.

Phil Vischer the creator of the popular series Veggie Tales puts it this way, “If we can’t explain the gospel to a third grader, we can’t explain it to anyone.” It is a powerful and perhaps damning statement about the challenge of explaining the core message of the Christian faith. Who or what is God? Why did Jesus die? Was he really God’s son? Did he really come back from the dead? What does that mean for me and my life?

These questions are central to the Christian message. They define what we believe and shape our response to a wide variety of situations. Christian outreach is prompted by what God has first done for us. As Christian’s we seek to address the ills found in society as a response to the grace God offers. In turn we too offer that grace. Our understanding of life, death and everything in between allows us to walk with those who grieve, suffer and despair in a unique way. So too are we able to share in moments of joy and jubilation.

So how do we answer questions about God from a five year old? When our children come to us with difficult questions about something that happened at school or something they discovered on the Internet how do we respond? In short, how do we provide faith formation to curious minds? As a Christian and as a minister I know how I approach this with my family and congregation.

However, I have concern for those who have no experience of God. When such questions are asked in these instances are they simply dismissed? Do parents without a faith background have a safe place to help them answer these questions? My concern arises for the question behind the question. Children are not only asking about who God is. The questions lurking in the background are what happens when I die, why is grandma sick and will you love me forever?

In a broken world, the answers we provide to these questions matter beyond our knowing.

* Will You Love Me Forever was originally published in the Northumberland Today on November 11, 2015.

The post Will You Love Me Forever appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
610
A Sense of Community http://neilaellis.com/2016/02/a-sense-of-community/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed Sun, 28 Feb 2016 00:00:52 +0000 http://neilaellis.com/?p=607 People have always gathered together. Whether for protection from hostile forces or the ability to provide for one another. At times we gather out of necessity for the common good and at other times we gather to enjoy the pleasure of another’s company. There is something good about being in […]

The post A Sense of Community appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
friends-community, communityPeople have always gathered together. Whether for protection from hostile forces or the ability to provide for one another. At times we gather out of necessity for the common good and at other times we gather to enjoy the pleasure of another’s company. There is something good about being in community with others. Friendships deepen, trust is formed and our quality of life improves.

I am convinced that people were created to live in community. To enjoy the bonds of friendship that create healthy and caring living environments. That deep within each of us is the desire to reach out and connect with another human being. Someone to express joy with, someone to share sorrow with.

A hymn that I enjoy is affectionately known as the Servant Song. It beings ‘Brother, sister, let me serve you.’ Whether we are aware of it or not service is something that we do when we are called into relationship with one another. When we reach out as a community of care, we serve one another. Through small seemingly inconsequential actions we serve the people we love and others who we may never meet. From doing the dishes, to gathering our neighbours leaves, to helping a stranger stuck on the road. Small acts of kindness are a form of service to one another.

Service to one another can also take the form of larger projects. The Soup Kitchens sponsored by Neighbourlink and hosted by Cobourg Churches provide a meal to those in need. However, a meal is not the only service provided. A bi-product of providing a meal is a safe place to enjoy it. When one or two gather to eat a community is created. Relationships are formed and individuals discover a network of support that was previously unknown to them.

Over the past few months the church community in Cobourg has drawn together to discuss community. We are all aware of the large humanitarian crisis that a multitude of wars has created. Media reports about refugees from a variety of countries have become common place. The question that has risen out of this crisis is as a community what can we do about it?

How does our church community which enjoys security and follows the example of Christ extend a hand of friendship to another individual who is unknown to us? From this question the Better Together Refugee Sponsorship initiative was started with the goal of bringing five refugee families to Canada.

There are a variety of ways to support this initiative including several benefit concerts. St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Cobourg is happy to be hosting Matt Williams and Alyssa Morrissey on Saturday November 14. Money raised from the concert will go directly to assisting with the financial requirements needed to support the Better Together Refugee Sponsorship.

As a community working together we discover that we have much to give. As a community we discover that we are not powerless. Through prayer and action we be participate in an activity which will continue to strengthen our community.

* A Sense of Community was originally published in the Northumberland Today on October 29, 2015.

The post A Sense of Community appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
607
Led by Grace http://neilaellis.com/2016/02/led-by-grace/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed Fri, 26 Feb 2016 00:00:03 +0000 http://neilaellis.com/?p=603 There is something in the air. Perhaps it is the lingering aroma of pumpkin pie or the refreshing taste of apple cider. These are some of the smells of autumn. A quick survey indicates that the landscape around us is also changing. Leaves are changing colours and soon the hills […]

The post Led by Grace appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
graceThere is something in the air. Perhaps it is the lingering aroma of pumpkin pie or the refreshing taste of apple cider. These are some of the smells of autumn. A quick survey indicates that the landscape around us is also changing. Leaves are changing colours and soon the hills of Northumberland will be a riot of colour. Autumn is a season of change and renewal.

Of course the change in the weather is not the only sign that autumn is upon us. The Federal election is in full swing and in a few short days it will end. What change will be brought about by the people of Canada as they go forward to vote?

I have always been both surprised and dismayed by low voter turnouts. Participating in the political process through voting has always been an important privilege. A responsibility which should be taken seriously. From those who elect not to vote I often hear the same refrain, “There are no good candidates so why vote for anyone” or “My vote won’t make a difference anyway.”

It is a sad day when this is how the public feels. In a time when we can research almost anything with the touch of a button we are given unprecedented access to research and then to question the important issues of the day. Indicating that you are uninformed of the issues demonstrates that you do not consider them important enough to discover. There is a distinct lack of engagement. Yet, never has it been easier to learn about candidates and party platforms.

So too is the notion that a single vote will not make a difference. There are countless countries around the world where citizens are unable to vote. The civil war and resulting refugee crisis in Syria is a result of its citizens saying no to a repressive regime. The people of Syria want what Canadian’s have: The ability to vote.

As a Christian I approach voting and the decisions before us from a perspective of justice as taught by Jesus. The Canadian economy will continue to function just fine regardless of which party is in power. However, items of social interest and justice often require the will of government to see them through. The government of the day should not be one which divides us, but which unites us in order to create a better Canada.

I am reminded of the story where Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well. It was taboo for a Jewish Rabbi and a woman to be alone together. That the woman was Samaritan only created further cultural problems. Yet in their conversation Jesus did not point to the differences between them. Instead he offered grace and life. His concern was for the woman and her welfare.

I long for a time when governments will demonstrate a true care and compassion for the citizens which elect them. When differences of policy can be set aside to do the hard work of governing and leading this nation. It is my prayer that the people of Canada will take the time to participate in this important process. It is my prayer that whichever party is elected they will be led by God’s Spirit of justice and compassion. That God’s will may be done. Amen.

* Being Led by Grace was originally published in the Northumberland Today on October 15, 2015.

The post Led by Grace appeared first on Neil A. Ellis.

]]>
603