When efficiencies aren't the answer

By Neil Strohschein

An Oct. 7 story posted on CBC’s web site has raised an issue that should concern all Canadians.

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Everyone in church

By Lorrie Dyer

In Manchester, England in 2004, Michael Harvey introduced the first “Back to Church Sunday.” This multidenominational concept has since spread to 17 countries and more than 14,000 churches with 200,000 invitations to church accepted.

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Practical Thanksgiving

By Neil Strohschein

have noticed a rather disturbing trend in Canadian society—a trend that will one day make us the laughing stock of the world’s nations unless we take action now to keep it from spreading.

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Entitled or grateful?

By Rev. Glenna Beauchamp

      Rivers and Oak River United Churches

We hear a lot today about people who have a sense of entitlement. When applied to those in public office, it means those who believes their position in society puts them beyond the rules and laws that apply to everyone else. While politicians get most of the blame for acting entitled, they are really reflecting general attitudes among all of us. 

We believe we’re entitled to everything from a high-starting salary to a government grant or strong self-esteem. Feeling entitled sets us up for disappointment because we rarely get everything to which we believe we are entitled. And life becomes a constant battle to get what should be ours, by right. Even worse though, there isn’t room in our hearts to feel both entitled and grateful at the same time.

Gratitude is an awareness of all the grace in our lives — the many things we don’t deserve but come to us as gifts. There are the big things like the love of our family, loyalty of friends, our freedom, the opportunities we enjoy as Canadians, God’s amazing grace and unconditional love. And there are the little things, like seeing a rainbow, having a stranger help you when you’ve left your wallet somewhere, getting an email or call from an old friend. 

People who are grateful as usually happy. People who feel entitled are not.

Minor prophets-major message

By Neil Strohschein

In the world of professional sports, players who are not good enough to play in the major leagues are assigned to minor league teams within the parent team’s farm system.

No minor league player wants to spend his or her entire career on the farm. They want to sharpen their skills and do enough to get a one-way ticket to the major league team. Only a few are able to achieve that goal—those who aren’t will play for a while (usually for several different minor league teams) and then retire; letting their dreams and ambitions for a major league career retire with them.

Those who cover sporting events for major newspaper, radio and television networks focus on those who play for the major league teams. Minor leaguers are often overlooked until they join the big league team.

Biblical scholars often treat the Old Testament’s “minor prophets” in the same way. Their books are shorter—one (Obadiah) contains only one chapter. Their subject matter is often very specific. They are addressed to different people, in different periods of history. Some contain words of encouragement; the rest identify specific sins, name those responsible and announce the punishment God intends to bring on them.

But these books (12 in all) share one thing in common. They may be minor in size and scope, but they contain a major message—one to which people of all generations should pay attention.

No one expressed that message better than the prophet Micah. When asked what God requires of those who profess to believe in him, Micah replied: “He asks three things—do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8) Justice, mercy and humility are three things God asks of us all.

First is a commitment to build and maintain a “just” society; a society in which every person is treated with dignity and respect; a society in which everyone has equal rights under the law; a society in which those who suffer any form of injustice can count on the courts to hear their case and take appropriate action; a society free of racism, prejudice and all forms of discrimination. We must never leave the task of building a just society to governments alone. This is a task to which God calls all of us and we must take this responsibility seriously.

Second is a choice to abandon the “Don’t get back, get even” attitude that prevails in our world. Historians tell us that one of the major causes of World War II was the treaty that ended World War I and the conditions it imposed on Germany. That treaty, we are told, was the spark that lead to the rise of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party and catapulted Adolf Hitler into power. We all know what happened next.

I wonder how many school yard scraps, street fights, gang wars, civil wars or world wars could be prevented if people would just sit down, talk to each other, listen to each other, and work out their differences in a just and peaceful manner. If just one dispute could be settled this way, it would start a trend that would change society.

Third is a choice to walk humbly with God. I conclude with a quotation I came across many years ago: “Today is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God and to God’s world.” Walking humbly with God is where we begin. When we do that well, a just and caring society could well be the end result.