Category Archives: Blog

Transformation (Janet Taylor)

Many of us are probably familiar with the story of the wedding at Cana…the changing of the water into wine is attributed as Jesus’ first miracle, and the Gospel tells us that “the disciples believed.” What we sometimes gloss over, however, is Mary’s belief.

Jesus’ mom was there to kiss scraped knees and remove wood splinters during her son’s childhood. She was a refugee with him and her husband Joseph in Egypt while they waited for Herod to pass from power. They likely learned that foreign language together as mother and son while they were there. She watched him go out the door to Torah school and wondered to herself if he was doing more learning or teaching, after that whole incident at the Temple in Jerusalem when he was 12.

And today, as she watches him interacting with his disciples and all the folks at the wedding, her relationship with him goes through a transformation every bit as dramatic as the change from virgin to mother. She goes from being his mother to being a disciple. The Gospel reads that after the miracle the disciples believed, but it was before the miracle that Mary believed! Otherwise she wouldn’t have asked her son to intervene.

Mary’s life reminds us that transforming to a believer often comes with pain. The transformation that Mary makes from mother to disciple has to have come at a painful cost. Her relationship with her other children likely changed, as did her relationships with friends and neighbours. And we certainly know there is great pain awaiting her at the foot of the cross. Yet she still chose to be transformed. Christianity’s history is full of believers who gladly bore pain, even death, for the sake of the transformation Jesus made in them.

This week, I invite you to spend some time thinking about the ways you might be transformed by an encounter with Jesus. Maybe you already have been and you’re celebrating. Don’t worry – with Jesus, transformation is definitely more than a one-time thing! You’ll be transformed again, deeper and wider. Maybe you’re in the middle and it’s painful. Maybe you feel like you’re still waiting for a transformation to happen. It will. The Gospels are full of stories of people who were transformed by Jesus.

One of my favourite lines is “God loves you just the way you are and has no intentions of leaving you like this!” That’s transformation. That’s God’s promise, with skin and eyes and red wine stains on his hands, called Jesus. No matter where you are in God’s transformation of you, remember Mary, not just the wine, when you think of the wedding at Cana. Because if Jesus can transform her, he can transform us. And for that, thanks be to God!

Janet Taylor, Interim Moderator
Sherwood Park Presbyterian Church

Padre’s Ponderings (Ken MacRae)

“I’m here!” These are the words that are spoken by various persons in the recent Bell “Let’s Talk” commercial. When it comes to mental health one big step in caring for others is just being physically present for people. Whether it is in my office, or on the phone with friends or colleagues there are many times when I’m just listening. I’m not offering advice. I’m not giving resources, or trying to problem solve. I’m there when people are crying, or angry, of frustrated. I’m there when people are happy and want to share their good news with someone. Sometimes I will ask, “Is there anything you want me to do?” Sometimes people do want help or guidance. Other times people just want to vent.

In the military we tell people that you are never alone. There is always someone you can talk to. This is true. However, there are times when we feel alone. We may not be ready yet to talk to anyone. Maybe we are still trying to figure out the voices in our head. Maybe we know we are frustrated but not quite sure why we are feeling that way. Maybe we are annoyed about work, but not sure exactly why. What can we do?

If you have ever been in my office for counselling, one of my biggest suggestions is for you to start to journal your thoughts. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. The journal is for you alone to read. Write down what is frustrating you. Write down what is making you sad or even happy. You don’t have to write sentences. Maybe it is just a word or two.

Our minds can spin. Writing forces our minds to slow down enough to put pen to paper. The next day we can read what we write. (In my case, my handwriting is so terrible, I’m often left wondering what the heck I wrote down.) Our own writing may give us hints at why we are so frustrated. We might learn why we are ticked off at our significant other. We might examine in writing our role in these issues. What have we done to help or to hurt others? What can we change? What is outside our control?

Not only do I write, but I also pray. Some people think that prayer is a one-sided conversation. We talk to God and hope for the best. That is not how prayer is supposed to work. By all means talk to God. It is equally important to take the time to listen. Just be silent in your thoughts. You will be amazed at how often God will talk to your heart. Sometimes we learn to swallow our pride and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes we are nudged to put down the jelled donut and to take a walk to clear our mind. Sometimes we find the inner courage to ask people to join us for dinner, or a movie, or ice fishing, or to watch the auroras.

When it comes to mental or spiritual health, the above suggestions are just some of the tools that we can use for self-help. There are many other tools that we can use. There is always hope. If you are not sure where to turn, or what to do, please give someone (a trusted friend, a pastor, a counselor) a call. They will be there for you.

Padre Kenneth MacRae
Canadian Armed Forces.

My Favourite Christmas Story (Steve Haughland)

This story is adapted from the narrative poem, One Solitary Life.

He was born in a small village in a far-flung corner of the Roman Empire.

He was the child of a peasant-girl – barely out of her teens and with little to commend her, except an obedient heart. His father, a man with rough edges and rougher hands, had equally little to commend him – except the hint of a wonderful pedigree and a willingness to do right by his kin.

When the time came for him to enter the world, a borrowed cattle stall at the end of a hard journey, was the only place they could find for him. In the middle of the night. In a place unfamiliar.  Surrounded by the smell and the sweat of beasts of burden. The object of curiosity for shepherds and locals and travelers alike.

He was only days old when his family became refugees. Forced to flee to a foreign country and dependent upon the kindness of strangers, his first months were spent in a place not his home.
Upon returning, he spent his youth among the people of the earth, learning early the discipline of rough hands and hard work.

When he was thirty years of age, he left his home and became a preacher, walking the dusty roads of Palestine with a message and a vision all his own. For awhile many became curious, believed,  listened, watched, and then waited for the inevitable to happen.

He was only thirty-three when public opinion, finally, turned, when the highest and mightiest in the land plotted against him for the lowest and basest of motives. Abandoned by his friends, turned over to his enemies, he was forced to endure the mockery of a trial. Silent before his accusers, he offered not a word in his own defense, but bowed his head until he was reduced, finally, to an object of scorn and pity.

Forced to carry the instrument of his own execution, he was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While he lay dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only possessions he had on earth. After he was dead, only a borrowed grave could be found for him….obtained only through the pity of a wealthy man..

Twenty one centuries have passed since many thought they had seen and heard the last of him.

Yet today, the world has never escaped his words, his deeds, or his vision. He never wrote a book.  But all the libraries in the world could not contain the books written about him. He was neither a politician, nor a professor, and never attended a college or university. Yet, many looked to him for wisdom, and many called him Rabbi, and Teacher.

He never had a wife or children. Yet for 2000 years the Church that bears his name has proudly called herself his bride, and millions more continue to claim him and laud him as their brother.

He had neither wealth nor prestige. Yet, with only a few loaves and fishes he fed thousands. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from where he was born.  But he knew the deepest depths of the human soul, and the highest aspirations of the human spirit.  He was not a counselor, yet his words, and his touch, could bring joy and freedom to the most troubled heart.

He was not a warrior. And yet, at the mere mention of his name demons trembled,

and the mighty feared to ask him even the slightest question. He did not demand to be worshiped or adored. But without his command to be silent, even the stones beneath his feet could not be kept from singing.

He did none of the things that one associates with greatness. And yet, in his presence sinners found forgiveness. The lame walked. The blind received sight. The deaf heard. The dumb spoke. Lepers were cleansed. The weak given courage. The poor given hope. The broken-hearted given joy. And the self-righteous and the unforgiving received their come-uppance.

Twenty one centuries have come and gone, and the world has yet to find a word accurate enough to define him, nor a tomb strong enough to hold him. To this day, no philosophy, no religion, no theologian, no personality, no idea….has continued to touch the lives of human beings on this earth as deeply, as profoundly, as his. His “One Solitary Life.”

This holy season, as we honour the birth of one who was “so wonderfully, completely human He was divine,” let faith, hope and love unite us to him once more. Let our lives be joined to his, and let his life be “solitary”  no longer….!

(The Rev) Steve Haughland
Ganton Presbyterian Community

The Full Circle (Elias Mendes-Gomes)

For centuries, the ancient church performed a liturgical dance called tripudium. It was regularly used in worship services and processions where the worshipers, either in line or in a row, took three steps forward and one step back. The dance was a visual reminder that the Kingdom of God is always moving forward but not without setbacks.

As I reflect on my journey as an ordained minister, I realize that the tripudium is a good metaphor to describe my experience in ministry, especially in the context of a global pandemic.

It is no secret that the pandemic has changed our world and that many are still struggling under its weight. In the past few months, countless people have been reassessing their jobs, recalibrating their priorities and, in the process, redirecting their lives. Apparently, it takes a pandemic to birth in us a willingness to evaluate what really matters in life.

This exodus of workers has been primarily from areas such as retail, health care, and hospitality, and has since been dubbed “The Great Resignation.” Ministry (in particular, congregational ministry) has not been immune to this trend.

In a research released in November/2021, the Barna Group reported that 38% of (American) ministers are seriously considering leaving full-time congregational ministry. The percentage increases to 51% among ministers in mainline denominations. The full report can be accessed here.

Although I dislike being part of such gloomy stats, that is where I am heading. After much prayer and soul-searching, I have come to realize that my experiences, languages, multi-faith contact, gifts and skillset would be better utilized in a ministry setting where different aspects of caring (social justice, educational, hospitality and compassion ministries) integrate with congregational ministry.

At first, the possibility of a redefinition of my ministry made me feel uneasy. Now, however, I am realizing that “calls” are not set in stone. Sometimes people are called to address a particular need or circumstance – for a period of time – rather than assume a permanent role.

The case in my mind is that of Stephen and Philip who were originally called to help distribute provisions to the Greek-speaking widows (Acts 6:1-6). Soon thereafter both appear in the role of evangelists. At many junctures in life, ministers find themselves reevaluating their specific form of ministry and often make changes.

Returning to the tripudium metaphor, this change in ministry can be deemed a step back, not as a setback, but rather as an opportunity to grow in the understanding of myself, the gifts bestowed on me, and what gives me joy and a sense of fulfillment, which is what Frederick Buechner once defined as ‘vocation’: “The place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

There is a lot at stake and I have a long path ahead of me. For my part I have counted the cost and accepted the way the vision is unfolding. The Kingdom of God continues moving forward triumphantly… even when we take a step back to refine our calling in such a challenging time.

God’s grace uphold us all.

The Rev. Elias Mendes-Gomes
Faith Presbyterian Church, Fort McMurray (AB)

The Space Between (Janet Taylor)

My husband and I are currently navigating the waters between receiving an offer to purchase on our house and the date when everything is finalized and the deal is sealed. It’s an anxious time of document retrieval, home inspection, financing approval, and countless sleepless nights contemplating hundreds of “what if” scenarios. We’re anxious to rush from the first day the For Sale sign went up to the day we watch burly movers manhandling our possessions on their way to a new home.

The same seems to happen with virtually any special event on our calendars: weddings, birthdays, vacations…and it happens with Advent, too. We rush to get Christmas decorations up, start singing along with carols on the radio on November 12, and focus on Christmas Day while bemoaning the rapid transit of the days leading up to the birth of our Saviour.

I think these situations exemplify a mindset which is endemic in our society: impatience and a desire to rush to the destination without savouring the journey. We’ve become so accustomed to instantaneous gratification of every whim that we’ve lost all sense of gratitude for the liminal space between our present presence and our future existence.

Advent invites us to recall with gratitude each relationship which has brought meaning to our lives as we write greeting cards. Quiet smiles and full hearts recall the memory behind each ornament hung on the tree and each family tradition faithfully re-enacted.

And just like moving, Advent offers us time to declutter and downsize, letting go of things we no longer need to carry, and imagine a world and a life different than the one we see around us.

The Big Day will come, whether it be moving day, Christmas Day, or any other event in our lives we long for impatiently. Let us try to remember that the growth and change that happens inside us during the liminal time of waiting is not a process to rush, but to savour. May your entire Christmas season, from Advent through to Epiphany, be filled with revelations and growth.

The Rev. Janet Taylor Minister, Braeside Church, St Albert & Interim Moderator, Sherwood Park Church).

Prevail (Lydia Calder)

In the fall of 2020, I chose my devotional book for 2021.  It’s called “Prevail”.  We don’t hear the word prevail very much. It old-fashioned and doesn’t fit well in a world of instant communication and quick fixes. For me the connotation is of a long, arduous struggle… or journey… or conflict …with an eventual win.

The title “Prevail” appealed to me because I suspected I was going to need to prevail through many more months of Covid 19.  Sadly, I was right.

As is the case with any book of 365 readings there have been some that, for a variety of reasons, did not touch my spirit – some were less relevant to my life phase…a few were odd…a couple I flat-out disagreed with.  But overall, it has certainly given me inspiration to carry on. It has helped me endure the regulations and restrictions of Covid 19. It has helped me survive the lethargy of too many months of relative inactivity and the futility of life with nothing new on the horizon.

William Shatner found something new and exciting to do and shot off into space for 10 minutes and 17 seconds. And, he went as a celebrity guest, so he didn’t even have to pay the estimated $350,000.00 for the privilege of doing so.

Meanwhile, most of the rest of us are still fully earthbound, stuck in this spot at this time. We keep looking forward to the day when things will return to normal — whatever that might look like in a post-Covid world. 

We have struggled over these past 20 months, dealing with things never-before seen in our lifetime. We’ve been threatened by an invisible enemy, confused by many voices, frightened by unsettling thoughts, and held captive in our own homes. Plans we had made crumbled to dust. Joys we had looked forward to evaporated. Although we’ve been doing practically nothing, life has been exhausting.

Prevail is a good word for these times. But the word prevail isn’t just about endurance or survival – it is about victory.  Right now, the Covid victory still seems rather far away.  How long will the 4th wave be?  And will there be a 5th?  I hold on to the words of Jesus: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Mandiesa sings a song called Overcomer.

The same Man, the Great I am,
The one who overcame death
Is living inside of you;
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the one who holds your life.
There’s nothing he can’t do,
He’s telling you
That you’re an overcomer,
You’re an overcomer. *

Some days I feel more like an under-achiever than an overcomer.  But feelings do not negate God’s truth. With the Spirit of Jesus living in us we too are overcomers. 

In this world we will face circumstances that leave us feeling weary, beleaguered, on the verge of collapse or defeat.  But let us never forget that God has equipped us to prevail, to be overcomers.  Even in these seemingly endless months of Covid 19, we hold on to the hope we have in Jesus Christ, the victor!

Submitted by Lydia Calder
On behalf of Mill Woods Presbyterian Church

*Songwriters: David Arthur Garcia / Benjamin Glover / Christopher E Stevens. Overcomer lyrics © Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publ., Spirit Catalogue Holdings S.a.r.l., D Soul

Emotional Viruses (Harry Currie)

Over the years I have done a lot of reading, research, study, and done workshops on Churches as Emotional Systems.

In the last year we have heard a lot about viruses and so I want to make the point that emotional viruses appear in families, groups and organizations such as churches.

Anxious people in a congregation often act like viruses and invade emotional space, break boundaries and try to control in a number of ways:

  • accuse someone without reasonable cause or without initially talking to the accused;
  • find “living tissue” (other people) in which to grow their gossip, rumors or careless talk;
  • disregard guidelines, policies, and procedures;
  • humiliate people, publicly or privately;
  • use verbal pressure to intimidate;
  • hold others hostage by threats or demands;
  • enlist others to attend secret meetings, distribute petitions for signature to discredit others, or send unauthorized messages containing disparaging information about someone;
  • ignore or neglect others, as if they don’t exist, for no other reason than the others hold different views;
  • Get upset easily over minor things, or try to turn an issue into a big crisis.
  • Say inappropriate things qualifying it with something like: “I am just telling it like it is” or “I am using my freedom of speech.”
  • hide their real agenda by appearing harmless, maybe even beneficial: “We’re only concerned for the good of everybody”;
  • break an agreement not to talk publicly about a matter until a later date;
  • withhold affection, approval, and appreciation to demean another;
  • label others with emotionally-packed words;
  • speak on behalf of others, as if they know what the other is thinking;
  • tell different accounts or share different information, depending on the hearers
  • attach fear to any issue in order to control others.

May I be so bold as to say that in a healthy church, healthy people and a healthy leadership act as an immune response. They do not listen, nor give support to, nor buy into the reactivity and inappropriate behavior.

They remain calm. They do not react or get upset. They provide clarity. They know when things are intrusive and are breaking boundaries. They refer people to the church’s proper procedures and its laws.

Remember in the Presbyterian Church in Canada it is our policy that people will be safe. That is not just physically, that is emotionally as well.

Healthy people and healthy leadership encourage the enforcement of healthy boundaries. With proper boundaries, love is possible.

The Reverend Harry Currie
Interim Moderator, Westmount Presbyterian Church

Let it Go (Harry Currie)

Eckhart Tolle in his book A New Earth uses the example of two ducks who are on a pond and get into a fight. The fight doesn’t last very long and then they go on their way releasing their surplus energy with a flapping of their wings. After that they go on as if nothing happened.

He goes on to suggest that if those ducks had human minds, they would keep the fight alive by story making in their heads. They would imagine the motives of the other duck and create a story in their head something like.

“The nerve of that guy. Who does that duck think he is? He thinks he is King of the pond, that’s what. He got into my space. The nerve of that guy. If he thinks he can run this pond he’s got another think coming.”

And on it goes and then the duck will share the story and emotions with its friends and try to turn them against the other duck, and maybe they even create factions on the pond, with distrust and lies and stories about that duck and its friends…. and maybe there will be wars between one side and another.

The point is that the human mind has this capacity to keep a fight alive for weeks and months and years. To take a painful story and not only keep it alive, but let it grow in intensity and meaning, is the way the human mind can seek to draw others into the drama and create sides with allies and enemies. And this is how most humans live.

According to Eckhart Tolle we are a species that has lost its way. The point of the duck story is that we need to listen to the ducks and flap our wings and “let go of the story,” and move on in the present. But for most of us we are seemingly unable, but more correctly unwilling to let go of the past. Imagine life where you can never put anything down or let go of any pain, stress, conflict, moral quandaries, guilt, grief, wounds, emotional scars and the like.

And every new pain, or stress just adds to the accumulation. And you understand what this world is like for many, many people, who carry burdens around all the time. Maybe, it is one of the reasons that Jesus said: Come unto me all you who are overburdened and I will give you rest.

I also think that when Jesus said that if we forgive the sins of another they are forgiven, but if we retain the sins of another they are retained, that Jesus was talking about the same idea. If we don’t forgive sin, we will end up retaining the sin. When we do not forgive, when do not let go, the sins and the hurts and the wounds take up residence within us. And we retain them.  And that is why it is so vital for us to forgive. It is not just matter of loving the other, it is a matter of our own health.

If we don’t let go of our negative energy it will hurt us and others. So my advice is to take all our negative energy and give it to Jesus. Pour our hearts out to him. Tell him about our wounds, our hurts, our grief, our anxiety, our grudges and let it go. And when we tell Jesus about our wounds…when we touch the nail scars in our own hands, the wounds in our sides…the rejections, the betrayals, the misunderstandings, the bitter words, the blows… and let them go… When we forgive everyone who has hurt us… We will become a healer…and those wounds in us, which heal, will become our source of energy. To give out positive energy.

To love, to forgive, to share, to turn away anger with kindness…to have compassion….to understand those who cannot let go of their inner hurt.

Grace and Peace to you
Rev. Harry
First Presbyterian Church, Edmonton

Remembering our heritage (Lydia Calder)

The first Monday in August is Heritage Day in Alberta, a day to reflect on our family history as well as celebrate the cultural mosaic of Canada.  Although I didn’t go this year, I always enjoy attending Heritage Days at Hawrelak Park.  The colourful costumes, the lively dancing, the delicious food!

It is interesting to hear the different languages and see how the terrain and the weather of a region affects the people – the way they dress, the food they eat and how it is prepared, the crafts they produce from the gifts of the land.

My father was from the Netherlands so I must go to the Netherlands Pavilion, to listen to the music, admire the wooden shoes and Delft pottery, and most importantly, eat poffertjes! (Tiny, thin pancakes served piping hot with butter and icing sugar.)

When my dad came to Canada in 1950 he left The Netherlands behind – completely.  It was a battle-scarred land filled with painful memories. He married a Canadian woman, so the Dutch language was not spoken in our home. Dutch food was never served and although he told us stories of Dutch traditions, they were never observed. “Waltzing Matilda” and “My Bonnie Lassie” were his songs of choice when he was whistling in the garden.

As for me, once I had children, I chose to embrace my Dutch heritage.  Our branch of the family celebrates St. Nicholas Day, with a special dinner, homemade Dutch cookies, secret gifts, and a sudden knock at the door which announces that St Nicholas has come and gone…

When I told my dad I was starting such traditions is his only comment was, “Why would you want to do that?”

Why?  Because there is value in connecting with past, of being part of a larger picture, of recognizing the culture that has shaped me.

We also have a heritage as Christians, a legacy that transcends familial connections.  In Hebrews 11 we read of those who exhibited great faith: Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, David. The New Testament also shares stories of such people: Peter and John, Mary Magdalene, Stephen, Paul. History reminds us of others: Augustine, John Newton, Fanny Crosby, Charles Spurgeon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr.  Each of them links us to previous generations of believers who remind us that we are part of a much larger picture.

These people were at the same time both ordinary and exceptional.  They were ordinary in that most came from average, if not humble beginnings.  None were born in palaces or in families of great wealth or stature.  Amongst them are those who were blatantly sinful and others who felt miserably inadequate.  Some struggled with physical disabilities and others with mental health problems. They were imperfect people – just like us. They had families and jobs, household responsibilities and community commitments – just like us.

What makes them exceptional is that they each saw a need and answered God’s call to serve.

Hebrews 12 speaks of that great cloud of witnesses, most of whom lived and died in supposed anonymity but who nonetheless are recognized by God and made an impact for the kingdom of God.

Heritage Day is a good opportunity to consider the heritage that our earthly families have given us.  But let’s also remember our Christian heritage and the sacrifices that were made by others that we too might believe and follow.

And let’s never forget that the heritage we have when we come into this world is far less important than the one we leave behind.

Submitted by Lydia Calder
On behalf of Mill Woods Presbyterian Church

The Gift of Vaccination (Amanda Currie)

On Friday, April 16, 2021, I became eligible, based on my age, to receive a vaccination to protect against COVID-19. Like many Gen-X Canadians, I had been cheering for several months as I watched the older generations of my friends and congregation members getting immunized. I “loved” every social media post about someone getting vaccinated, and I shared all the latest news about clinics and eligibility in my province. I was overjoyed when my sister (a front-line health worker) got the jab, and relieved when my parents and then finally my husband “Stuck it to COVID,” just a week before my turn came up.

On the day of my eligibility, I sat impatiently through several online church meetings, and then hopped in my car and went straight to the drive-through clinic not far from my home in Regina. It was a bit of a wait. I drove into a lane as directed, and then sat there for about an hour and a half. It felt just like the line-up of cars waiting to get onto a ferry. I rolled down the windows, enjoyed the sunshine and the breeze, and worked on a sermon until my lane began to move. Then followed about an hour of inching along towards the big garage doors of the clinic.

The nurse who vaccinated me was very friendly and professional. She asked me lots of questions, explained the possible side effects, and made sure I knew where I should wait my 15 minutes afterwards in my car and put on my hazard lights if I didn’t feel well and needed help. The jab itself felt just like my annual flu shot, but it meant so much more.

The next day I was exhausted, had a bit of a headache, and my arm was sore. I knew to expect a few minor side effects, but I was surprised by the flood of emotions that I experienced. A deep sense of relief, like I’d been holding my breath for a year and, finally, I could breathe freely. An amazing feeling of gratitude, having received a long-awaited and much-desired gift. And I wouldn’t say that the third emotion was guilt, but it was a real awareness of privilege.

I thought about younger people who were still waiting, people without vehicles who could not go to the drive-though clinic and would wait longer to access a vaccine, and essential workers whose turn still hadn’t come up. I also thought about people around the world—those in countries without the financial resources to buy vaccines, those in places where outbreaks are totally out of control and medical services are severely limited.

I felt like one of those ten people with leprosy who was healed by Jesus—the one who turned back, praising God with a loud voice, the one who lay down at Jesus’ feet and thanked him profusely. I’ve often wondered about that story, about what that thankful person did after Jesus sent him on his way. I can picture him telling the story of his healing again and again with excitement and joy. I can imagine him encountering other sick people and pointing them towards Jesus for help and hope.

But the more important question is what I will do in response to the free gift of my COVID-19 vaccination. Certainly, I will continue to give thanks to God for the amazing gift that I have received. I will continue to encourage others to get vaccinated as soon as their turn comes up—protecting their own health, protecting vulnerable people around them, and protecting our society as a whole from all the devastating effects of the ongoing pandemic.

In deep gratitude for the gift of being vaccinated, my husband and I have each given $250 to the Love My Neighbour project  to help UNICEF provide COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable people.

Love My Neighbour is a national movement for global vaccine equity, inspired by Millennium Kids and Canadian faith communities, to raise funds to help increase equitable access and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. Each gift of $25 provides funding to fully vaccinate a person who would not otherwise have access to this life-saving immunization. This includes vaccines, per-person cost for transport, cold chain protection, health worker training, and disposal of needles and waste.

If you also feel thankful and privileged to have access to vaccinations and the hope of a COVID-free community, I invite you also to turn back like the healed man did. Give thanks and praise to God, tell the story, encourage others, and consider gifting a vaccine to someone else who needs it too.

—The Rev. Amanda Currie, Moderator of the 2019 General Assembly