Minister's Message

Rev. Ryan Fea

Ordained Minister


Ryan's Message

All are welcome at Merging Waters. Seekers and believers at every point of the journey. People of all ages, identities, and walks of life will find a place in the Merging Waters family. If you're at church for the first time or been attending church all your life you have a place here.

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           July 15th,  2021


Belonging - the sense that one is accepted, included, part of a group, safe, and supported. These are wonderful parts of community, and a beautiful part of the experience of church, family, and cultural identity that can promote growth, nurture, and peace. Feeling part of a beloved community can inspire us to want others to know its blessings, to know the joy and love of belonging. A flip side of the sense of community is the cohort mentality. The sense that identity cannot change or include others because belonging risks not being expanded or enhanced but lost. Exclusion, competition, defensiveness, and ego dominate cohort mentality.

The difference between cohort and community lives in our hearts, belief and thoughts, and can be seen in behaviour. The United Church, seeking to find ways to grow and celebrate being a Beloved Community, has continued to work on how well we live out that identity while struggling to resist cohort mentality. In our social action and self-awareness we challenge not only the world but ourselves and one another. We have asked ourselves many questions about who we are and how we live. This week in our worship we will lift up the continuing journey and commitment that the church has made two confront racism within our church and our society.


As we prepare to lift up this journey and the struggle and celebration that it will involve, we can ask ourselves some questions:

●     Why must arbitrary markers like the colour of skin influence how we treat one another?

●     If we are called/inspired/challenged by our faith to recognize God in all people, the presence of the Divine in all living beings, how can race, culture, sexuality, gender, religion, ethnicity, or ancestry limit how that presence is found?

●     If we find ourselves slipping into cohort mentality, how can we remind ourselves of the love that has been shared with us so that we can be motivated to share it with all others?

●     How can we continue to nurture the commitment within ourselves and one another to resist cohort mentality?

●     Have we seen cohort mentality, clinging to rigid identity that causes exclusion and draws boundaries between who can belong and who cannot, in our journey?

●     When we find ourselves and other members of the congregation, our neighbours and fellow members in the church drawing lines about who can belong to what congregation, what resources can be shared between us, where we draw the line on who belongs and who's inclusion is valid, how can the message of Jesus, the experience of the Spirit, and the presence of the Divine help us to act as a beloved community?


Seekers, I look forward to our continued journey of supporting and challenging one another into a world where the truth is known - that all are needed, all are loved.


Peace and hope

Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           July  8th,  2021


This week’s worship service continues to lift up the faithful ways that the United Church of Canada has contributed to the social and cultural mosaic of Canada and the world in times of faithful living. This week we look at the church’s work toward gender equality and inclusion.

In 1918, women in Canada were granted the federal franchise. It would be another 10 years before the Famous Five won the Persons Case Victory, and it was not until 1940 that Quebec women won the right to vote in provincial elections. In 1960 First Nations were allowed to vote without giving up treaty rights. Thanks to the work of United Church Members like Nellie McClung, and Louise McKinney – the only woman to sign the Basis of Union in 1925 – and other Canadians the rights of women and all Canadians have be recognized and grown closer to where they are meant to be.

Amid this work the United Church was call/inspired, faithful to the message of love, equality, and inclusion of Jesus, the Rev. Dr. Lydia Emelie Gruchy felt the call to ministry. In answering her call, she became a teacher and then the first woman in Canada to graduate theological college, at the Presbyterian College in Saskatoon in 1920. She was also the first woman in Canada to earn a Doctorate of Divinity. And the good people of The United Church in Saskatchewan agreed that her call from the Divine to serve alongside the rest of the church was as valid as all those who hear the Spirit’s call to ministry. She was ordained in 1936.

The United Church continues to celebrate the ministry and leadership of women and gender inclusion throughout the church and our society. This time of celebration can help us to ask of ourselves:

-       What are the places in our lives and church where gender inclusion and equity have enhanced our understanding of God’s love for all people?

-       Seeing the benefits and blessings we experience through learning from one another, with all we’ve gained by expanding inclusion to gender equity, what other kinds of inclusion can enhance our faithful expressions of love?

-       The church and society have found that respecting the rights and contribution of women has been a great blessing: how can we continue to lift up and enhance the status of women in the world?

-       Where is there still work to be done to ensure full gender equity in the UCC? In Canada? In the World?

o   What can we contribute to this on-going journey?

I look forward to our time of celebration together this week as we embrace the struggle and the achievements in gender equality and its many dividends now and into the future.  


Peace and hope

Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           June 30th,  2021


As we approach Canada Day, tomorrow, we are also beginning this Sunday the Combined services with our United Church neighbours on and around the West Island and GMA. Our series this summer will be looking to lifting up the ways that the United Church of Canada lives out our faith in justice and inclusion.

This week we will be looking toward work in international justice with specific attention to global mining issues. The United Church of Canada has a specific page that discusses how mining impacts people around the world as well as the environment – Mining Resources and Extraction. 75% of the world’s mining companies are Canadian and in recent years many of these companies have been accused of practices and policies that damage both the Earth and the people in many nations. The Beaconsfield Initiative started by Beaconsfield United has offered first hand eyewitness to the behaviour of the Canadian Mining Industry in the Philippines. The reality of Canadians profiting off of the violation of human rights and wanton destruction of the Earth brings us many questions as Christians, let us ask ourselves some:


-       On June 13th we heard of the universality of our actions. Injuring others, is injury to the Divine, while caring for others is showing care for the Divine, (Matthew 25:40-46).

o   If Christ called upon those who follow his message to stand up for and stand with the oppressed how do we do this today?

-       What other actions are needed to reflect our care for all creation in how we respond to actions that destroy precious biodiversity and assault human dignity?

-       If we learn that Canadian corporations or individuals are committing atrocities around the world in the name of profit what are we as Canadians and as people of faith inspired, motivated, called, or even responsible to do in response?

-       What is the blessing here? Do we have a chance to be of help to all those in this situation?

o   In what ways can we be the dreamers/imagineers who help others find ways that lead to healing from past hurts and perhaps newer practices of commerce and even resource utilisation and extraction that are less damaging?


Asking the big questions together, while lifting up the ways that we as people of faith are already striving to make the world a better place for all, is how we will journey this summer. Let’s celebrate together and individually.


Peace and hope

Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           June 23rd,  2021


This week is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (tomorrow in fact) and the Ecumenical Service. Like John the Baptist so many of us have felt like we were out in the desert for the past year and a half calling out for change and seeking spiritual renewal. Some of us wandered alone, some have been in this desert time together like the Ancient Israelites searching for spiritual nourishment and renewal, seeking our home. For so many of us it has been a hard time but also a time out of time. As a community some of us have found different kinds of nourishment and connection in the online activities and worships we were able to accomplish together.

The theme of this week's service is Streams In The Desert wherein we will explore the opportunity for respite, inspiration, and connection through faith - being nourished by the waters of life. Alone or together, we have all had a journey in the desert of life and in ways big and small we have all found some kind of change, renewal, challenge, and promise. Stories we hope to be able to share in the coming months as we journey in the new normal that we will find together. Looking at the readings from Isaiah 35:1-7 we can ask ourselves some questions:

-       Either during the pandemic or in the time before, when have you felt like you were in a spiritual desert, in need of spiritual nourishment?

-       When have you found the waters of life, the life-giving presence of the spirit, in your life?

-       Has this been in times of trouble or when times were good?

-       How can we share the waters of life, the spiritual nourishment of the Divine presence with one another? With our neighbours? With people near and far?

I look forward to our shared worship with ecumenical neighbours and to hearing your individual and collective stories from the journey.


Peace and hope

Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           June 17th, 2021


This week we're lifting up our great joy and thanksgiving for the life and work of Merging Waters. This will be a celebration of our collective ministry with gratitude being lifted up for the faith community of Merging Waters and special appreciation lifted up for the Ministry of Music that Pierre has shared with us in his time as staff. Pierre has let the Boards know that he will be retiring at the end of June from his staff position, but he will be remaining with us in community as Merging Waters is his home faith community - so we have much to celebrate.


As we lift up our thanksgiving and gratitude for our life of faith we will share in music and word, reflection and thanksgiving through a Service of music woven together with A Song Of Faith, one of the beautifully composed and deeply thoughtful Creedal Statements of the United Church of Canada. This beautiful theological statement published in 2006 that is both contemporary and moving can move us to ask ourselves many things but this week let us reflect on the following:


●     Where is it that you experience connection with the Divine/Spirit/God/That which is Within-and-Beyond/the Holy One-In-All in your life?

●     When have you experienced this within the Merging Waters community?

●     How does this experience enrich your life?

●     What can you do, individually and together, to help the Merging Waters family provide one another and those in the wider community and world the opportunity to experience this spiritual connection as well?


I am so pleased to be able to lift up our gratitude this week for the work of the church and in particular for Pierre having shared his many gifts with us in his time with the Union and Merging Waters Ministry of Music. My own gratitude for his inspiration, support, and insights cannot be overstated. I join you in lifting up gratitude for our lives of faith, the wonderful work of mission, outreach, and worship that we all share and how these are enriched and inspired as we sing out our song of faith together.


I look forward to celebrating the journey as we continue it this week and into the future.


Peace and hope

Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           June 10th, 2021


Today is the 96th Anniversary of Union of the United Church of Canada, a day that we can lift up the journey of a young church seeking the way to enlightenment, hope, and love in the world. Born from the dream of bringing many together as one we have progressively discovered the beauty of diversity within unity: a work in progress.

This week in worship we will lift up the anniversary of Church Union as we engage John 17:20-26 and Romans 15:1-13. By encouraging us to be unified in love for one another, expressed in self-giving service to the needs of others, these passages inspire us to ask ourselves some questions:

-       If the nature of the Divine is that of self-giving relationship, are we encouraged to see the sacred nature of diversity within our togetherness?

-       How does service to those most in need bring fulfillment to our lives?

-       How do we express this challenge to be of service to others as a faith community on a local, national, and global basis?

-       How do these messages of service, togetherness, and the sanctity of loving ourselves and others inform our journey today?

-       What can hold us back from a commitment to service to others or celebration of diversity? What can we do to help one another in overcoming these roadblocks?

I look forward to lifting up the beauty and challenge of diversity in unity as we celebrate the journey together in worship this week and throughout our lives in the future.
Happy Birthday United Church!!


Peace and hope

Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           June 3rd, 2021


As we lift up the beginning of International Pride Month, we join with a global movement to support human rights and acknowledge the specific need to heal the brokenness within society caused by discrimination, marginalisation, and hate based one sexual orientation and gender identity. In our worship this week we will explore a story by Rabbi Marc Gellman that is based on Genesis 8:1-12 and 9:8-17. In the Biblical narrative we see that the rainbow is a symbol of peace and reconciliation between all of humanity and the Divine, and of new beginnings for all after a time of great suffering.

The Rainbow is a symbol of hope after the storms of oppression, pain, and loss within the 2S & LGBTQAI+ community. It is also a symbol of creation, re-creation, and hope for varied faith traditions today and at many points in history as well as for all people during the current pandemic. If the Divine seeks out not only peace but calls us to find ways to be at peace with ourselves, one another, and Creation we can ask ourselves:

-       If going “back to normal” would include society returning to practices that are hurtful to the planet and humans, what can we do to create a more loving “New Normal,” when we are able to be back in-person?

-       What are the new beginnings, the creative ways open to the Spirit’s call, that we can imagine as we seek out hope for the future?

-       If all the world is our sacred home, how can we live this as a faith community?

-       What actions and awareness can we choose to integrate into our lives that will create a more just and peaceful place for marginalised people in our society?

As we continue this journey of faith together, a road that is at times bumpy, I am grateful to travel with the community of Merging Waters. A community that honours our past experiences through an openness to creative response to our call to be community in new ways. I look forward to our time together this week and into the future.


Peace and hope

Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           May 27th, 2021


I hope that this message finds you well, even in these times of continued uncertainty and frequent change I lift up prayers daily that there are silver linings that we can each find in the clouds of our lives.


We continue to explore together the inspiration we receive from the Spirit that touches our souls and motivates our lives of faith and community. This month we have been exploring questions integral to our deliberations, reflections, and actions of moving ever forward into the future. These reflections and questions are intended to help us articulate our Spiritual centre, the theological grounding, the core values we find in our faithful connection with the Divine that inform our actions and will help us to remain focused and resolute in our commitment to those things that are most important as we face decisions as a community.


This month we have been asked to reflect on our own personal encounters with the Divine and ask ourselves some questions:

-       What kind of experience have you had with the Divine in your experiences of scripture, the living Spirit in the world, and your relationships?

             - What are the traits of the God, Divinity, Spirit that you have met in your life?

-       What traits does this experience inspire in your way of living in response?

             - What are you called to be, what traits does this inspire?

             - What is the community of faith called to be like in our life and work?

-       In this being that is grounded in the call of the Holy One-In-All, that is inspired by or a reflection of your experience of the Spirit in the World and your life:

            - What does this being call/inspire/motivate you to do?

            - How will you act in response?

            - In responding together what corporate actions are we going to take as a community?

We continue the exploration of these and other questions along side our neighbours this week in our time of Worship, the Church Café, and in ongoing explorations of our lives together. Please continue to actively reflect on these questions. And as always you are welcome to get in touch with me and members of the community to share in discussions.


Peace and hope
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           May 20th, 2021


This week we celebrate the Pentecost. The moment when Jesus tells of the grace of the Paraclete, the presence of the Spirit in our lives. We here in this week's reading from John 15:26-27; 16:4-15 that the spirit is to be a companion, a partner in work – a friend and supporter who loves, inspires, and encourages us just as Jesus did his first disciples. Calling us into relationship with the Divine.


Exploring the role of the Spirit in our lives we hear of one who is love alive in the world, and in us, who calls, inspires us to be a people of faith, in relationship with the Divine, the Sacred One-In-All, that which is within and beyond. This passage brings questions for us to reflect upon:


-       When have you felt the presence of the Spirit in your life?

-       In what ways has the Divine presence been a shelter, challenge, and support to you?

-       What is the Holy Spirit saying to the churches through our various sources of inspiration?

-       What are we called, motivated, inspired to do in expression of this relationship?


Let’s continue to seek inspiration. As we embrace the presence of the Spirit, encouraging our lives and work, and lighting the way for our journey, I look forward to our time together this week.

Peace and hope
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           May 13th, 2021


This week has been one already quite filled with the work of the Boards, and I encourage everyone to join me in keeping them in our prayers. The Boards take on the discernment and visioning, and the responsibility of maintaining the life and work of the congregation in work together with committees and with the staff. This work is always one that is done with wisdom and dedication and has required a great deal of reflection, research, and even more work than usual. There are important decisions that are being made on your behalf and the three boards of Merging Waters, Beaurepaire United, and Union Church feel the weight of it. Let us lift up our gratitude for this very-much ongoing and active work in new and old ways and give our support, insights, and encouragement to the boards. If you’re not on the board find out who is – they are listed on the church website - http://mergingwaters.ca/about/board-of-directors/. Please, lift them up in your prayers, supporting them as they faithfully continue to keep the missional work and relationships of Merging Waters alive in these trying times.


This week in our worship together we will explore the message of John 17:6-19. The narrative is a time when Jesus prepares to call those who follow his message to the work and life of ever forming and reforming the church – the body of Christ - in the world. This passage that is an example of Jesus in prayer wherein he asks that the Divine dream of the world be fulfilled in those of us who continue the work of the church and that the joy of the Divine relationship be fulfilled among and within us. That our faith found through Jesus will fulfill the hope of a world filled with love, justice, and peace and that in this faith-filled relationship we will find joy!


In hopes that it will bring us closer to that joy in these times wherein we could all use a little more I ask us to reflect on these questions:

-       What/who is there in your life right now that currently brings you joy?

-       What are the ways that your relationship with the Divine is expressed in this?

-       In the moment of reflecting upon that experience/relationship how long can you hold this joy in your heart? 

o   Try to sit with that joy, focus on and experience it. Give yourself permission to stay with that joy. Then answer to yourself how long.

-       What else do you feel in response to this? Gratitude? Peace? Curiosity? Hope?


I look forward to seeking out the fullness of joy in our sacred relationships this Sunday and in the future of our journey together.

Peace and hope
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           May 6th, 2021


I start out by wishing a Happy Mothers’ Day this week to all who are mothers to others in the world. All who have by birth, adoption, friendship, and community nurtured and caringly challenged others to grow in life to actions that are just and loving. Your gifts to us all, whoever you are, have helped us all to grown in that thing that is all from the Divine – love. Whether we knew it or not, whether we say it or not, you have shaped us and the world. May God’s blessings and love be upon you.


As we continue our journey this week, we look to celebrate Christian Family Sunday, a tradition within the United Church that seeks to honour and expand on the blessings of family in its many forms. While Sunday is Mothers’ Day, a day we honour and celebrate with joy, Christian Family Sunday seeks to embrace the message found in Luke 8:19-21 that calls us to remember that family is a blessing that comes in many forms. Jesus doesn’t reject his mother and brothers but expands his family to include the beloved community who embrace one another and the message of justice and love through their work and living together.


This passage can bring us some questions that we can reflect on in the joy of this wonderful day:

-       If the definition of family is wider than those with whom we are blood-related then what are the limits of whom we call family?

- If sharing in a life of faith that actively works, in community, to awaken God’s dream for us in the world is what makes a family; are everyone who worship and work together within the Merging Waters community a family?

     o   Are all those who work to awaken God’s dream on the West Island?  In Canada? On Earth?

- Doesn’t this passage call our families of origin and our families of choice both wonderful blessings within the beloved community, a sacred family who love the world?

- Who has been a nurturing/challenging presence in your life who helped you to grow? Your birth/adoptive mother? A grandmother? Aunt? Teacher? Friends? Others within the church? Our Mother the Earth? Have there been nurturing men in your life too?

- How best do we celebrate the ways that they have blessed our lives?


Siblings, I look forward to lifting up our joy and celebration of the family we find together here and in the world this week and as our journey together continues.


Peace and hope
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           April 29th, 2021


It’s nice to be back from my time of leave and to hear from you about all that has been going on during this time. I have continued to hold you all in my prayers and enjoyed a time of renewal as well as reflection and study. I’m looking forward to the coming time.


We continue our journey this week, that of walking the road of Eastertide and living in solidarity with the world. Indeed in our reading this week we are called by John 15:9-17 and 1 John 4:7-21 to do just that by sharing the love that we have experienced through our relationships found in the message of Jesus. We are called up to love one another and all the world in example that Jesus gave us. We are not asked to be Jesus but we are asked to walk with him by this example of how to live with others. Called upon to accept that we are loved and to be inspired to share that love unabashedly with all others.


These passages are lovely, no pun intended, in their poetry but have a quite serious tone about them in that they challenge the norms of the world and ask us to question some presuppositions about life, society, and faithful living within the world. Feeling loved and comforted is one thing, sharing this love with all others is often seen as something separate. Some questions that may help in reflecting upon these passages:

-       Do you feel God’s love for you?

-       Where/when do you feel this love?

-       What are the ways that you feel called to express this love?

-       We are called/challenged/expected by these passages to be inspired by the message of Jesus to show love to all others:

                 ●  Do we?

                 ●  In what ways?

                 ●  How/When/Where?

                 ●  How often?

I look forward to our time together this week as we seek deeper understanding to embrace the comforting and challenging Love of the Sacred Presence.


Peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                           April 8th, 2021

We’ve started our year two of the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic hasn’t stopped us from having the capacity to participate in spiritual practices or to support the relationships and work of the community through fundraisers, political and social action, and environmental justice. Things have been different and often difficult but we continue to live as a community whose love and passion is not defeated by distance.

We have all shown ingenuity and creativity throughout the past year in our journey of faith together. The membership have shown commitment to participate in the life of the church, and the staff, board, and committees continue the hard at work keeping the administration and visioning of the congregation going. I lift up daily my thanksgiving for the commitment to living the Spirit of Resurrection in the world that continues to be shown through all of our lives here at Merging Waters. Showing our care and concern for all people through caution and common sense in the face of a highly contagious virus and its new variants, an example how Christ is present in times of fear, doubt, and absence.

This week we will be reflecting on the words of Acts 4:32-35 that remind us of what we can do together when we embrace resurrection living. And while it speaks of some things that we would be challenged to do safely right now, since togetherness must remain online, by phone, and at a distance for the foreseeable future, it tells us of the possibilities when we share our resources. With a community mindset giving new life to the world means bringing down class divides and making sure that everyone has what they need.

This passage asks the very important question:
“How do we embrace resurrection living if all are needed and all are one?”

We will welcome this Sunday in our worship live on ZOOM Anwar Alhjooj, Montreal City Mission Intercultural Coordinator and Assistant Director. MCM are our partners in ministry in the United Church of Canada who advocate for and support the great need of immigrants and refugees in Montreal. We look forward to getting to know Anwar and to hear more about how the work of MCM has continued throughout the pandemic and how we can continue to support this important Ministry.

I look forward to seeing you all this Sunday.

Peace and grace,


Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


                                                           Please click this link for PDF version


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                        March 30th, 2021


This Holy Week we walk a path toward the cross and this Sunday we are met by the empty tomb. We are asked to explore reconciliation with ourselves, one another, and the Divine in Lent and in particular Holy week. Seeking to confront the ways that are broken in our lives, society, and faith, so that we can find healing and discover new life in the experience of resurrection living. I encourage you all not to miss the journey through Holy Week, something I am well aware you can handle – not afraid to confront the things that are broken Merging Waters is a community capable of facing this journey.


Indeed Sunday, by the journey through doubt and fear in the narrative of the story of Jesus’ ministry, confrontation with oppressive power, and crucifixion, we will come to our reading of Mark 16:1-8. An empty tomb, found by the courageous ones who were willing to venture there, left with an open ending. God had broken all of our expectations and confounded our fears with hope and wonderment, yet the end, whatever end we hoped for is unwritten, uncertain. The Spirit of Love is let loose in the world, neither deterred or limited by our boundaries or rules, even the cycle of life and death is broken.

-       If God is loose in the world, what are you being called to be and do?

-       How will you express your resurrection living this year?

-       What is the Spirit saying to the churches?

-       What is the hope we find in Jesus inspiring you to do in the world?

-       What vision will we live out, letting that which is spiritually dead become resurrected into new life and new ways, as Merging Waters?


Looking forward to our journey this week and into the future.


Peace and hope,


Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


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Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                        March 25th, 2021


This week our Lenten Journey travels the road into Jerusalem alongside Jesus as we engage in dialogue with Mark 11:1-11. We see Jesus, coming in symbolic expressions of both humility and defiance. While his defiance stood against the oppression of the poor and marginalized, telling truth to power, the humility shown by Jesus was also defiant. The people celebrated his arrival and cried out to him for help. They expected a violent overthrowing of empire, what they got was the promise that love was the only true way to achieve the peace that was sought. A peace that we have yet to find in a world ruled by love because we have not accomplished it. Jesus believed that a world at peace and in love, love and abundant life for all was possible and that there were no excuses to accept anything else. He was willing to face the violence of the Roman empire and the betrayal of the same people who cheered him on, even that of his friends and family, to show us how to make the world the paradise that is God's dream for us. He was willing to suffer rejection, persecution, and execution to stand up for love.


This passage, and the story of our Biblical narrative poses uncomfortable questions for us in our modern context:

-       What does it take for humans to live for love instead of for fear, to see a call to change as opportunity as opposed to loss?

-       What would you be willing to let go of to see a world without war, discrimination, hunger, and poverty?

-       What will it take for us to realise that we can change systems that keep us from living with respect in creation for this Earth and for all who live here, because these systems were made by us humans?

-       How can we show our trust that the Spirit is alive and well in the world and that we can express her call to us faithfully?

-       What are we willing to let go of?

-       Thinking that being right is more important than doing right?

-       Traditions that comfort some but hurt many others?

-       Ways of living that harm the Earth and disadvantage specific people?

-       What is the best way to celebrate the gift that we have in the ability to choose?


It's a journey that challenges and enlivens us, I look forward to continuing it this week with you all.


Peace and hope,


Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


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Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                        March 18th, 2021

As the weather warms melting snow reveals that life has continued in the ebb and flow of the tranquility of winter toward the glorious eruption of colour, sounds, and activity of Spring. In our Lenten journey we have been reminded of the need for social and climate justice. We continue this journey this week as we are called into ever-renewing covenant with the Lover of The Universe as we read the words of Jeremiah 31:31-34. We are reminded that our human journeys are no exception to nature’s ebb and flow, with the constant cycle of change, adaptation, rest, movement, and change once more that we experience to varying degrees as we travel the road of life.

In this time of seeking let us ask ourselves some questions about this encounter with the Divine:

-       When have you been inspired by an encounter with nature?

o   How was God present for you in that moment?

-       What are we doing that furthers the goal to lift up the divinity found in nature?

-       As our understanding of the interconnectedness of life deepens in this world how can we deepen our response to the call to live with respect in creation?

-       How can we relate our commitment to creation with our commitment to lives of faith?

-       How to we communicate these commitments to others in ways that open up dialogue and understanding?

We will continue to engage the scriptures in our Lenten journey together this week and well into the future as seekers of the call to life in faith.

Looking forward to seeing you all Sunday

Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com

 

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Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                        March 11th, 2021

This week we are celebrating United Church Affirming Sunday and reading in
Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-21 that as a beloved people of God we are called to look at places of fear, illness, and injury in order to allow for healing. This can be a real challenge, yet if injury and illness is ignored it is never tended to. Looking at the world today we know, having lived a full year with the iniquities of the world exposed by the pandemic, engaged with the struggles and accomplishments of racialised communities, and International Women’s Day, and as a community aware and sensitive to many issues, we know that there is much brokenness and pain in the world, in our community, and within each of us.

We’re a well informed and aware group, reminded as we are by these passages that healing, and so movement toward a more just and loving world, involves a commitment to look at the broken places, the places of dis-ease and injury, we can hear some questions in ourselves and the community: 

-       When was the last time you heard updated statistics on the disadvantages placed upon 2LGBTQ+ peoples?

-       What daily efforts do we make that are Public, Intentional, and Explicit to welcome members of oppressed minorities into the faith community?

-       Where is the Spirit calling us to be in the struggle against oppression in our society?

o   Are we there?

o   How do we get there?

-       What will we do to continue our commitment to be informed, aware, and active in continuing to fulfill this call?

-       How have we participated in and struggled against systems of society, institution, and norms that have hurt others?

-       When have we helped our community and world in facing these issues?

-       How can our own faith journey help us to lament past injuries in loving ways and to aid us and others in healing together?

Our shared journey continues as we face the pains of the world, seeking the Spirit’s accompaniment in moving from injury into renewal, oppression into abundant life, and broken hearts into joy.

Peace and hope,


Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


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Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                        March 4th, 2021

We continue to engage the Lenten Journey. Our Lenten Discipline of the ECOfast includes engagement with actions that can be taken in daily living to live with respect for creation but also includes awareness raising and engagement with issues of climate and social justice. This is meant to further sensitize us to the issues and facts, and to remind us of how our collective attitudes, ways of thinking, are inter-related.

Monday March 8th is International Women’s Day. We will lift up the journey, struggle and triumph, of women in our world as a family of faith. Looking not only at the past but at the reality that we live as a human family with continued and recently increasing violence against women here in Canada and around the world. The reading from 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 challenges us to question earthly wisdom, which often pits one against the other, calling us to embrace God’s wisdom of love. This can encourage us to look at how human society works and ask some questions:

-       If the status of women in our world is a result of worldly wisdom how can we not prefer God’s wisdom in the call to justice, equality, and equity for all – peace with all living beings?

-       If the norms of a species are detrimental to many or all of its members can they be taken as wise?

-       Is “this is how we’ve always done things” an explanation that we as a faith community are called to accept?

-       How can we as a church, as a society, as a species, be open to the insights of the prophetic voices throughout history that tell us that there are more loving, more just ways to be?

-       If the Holy One calls us to stand with those who are being hurt or oppressed how can we faithfully stand with and for women in Canada and around the world?

I look forward to engaging these and others questions in our worship and journey.

Peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


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Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                   February 25, 2021

This week continues to remind us of the precious and those with whom we share it are gifts. I continue to lift up in my prayers the entire pastoral charge and in particular those of you who are dealing with particular periods of loss and pain. We life in hope and wish the best for all but we also know that we are a people who will deal with whatever comes our way in love. As a family of faith we are lifting our prayers for healing and peace supporting one another even as we continue to call for justice and peace in the wider world. I encourage us all to take each moment that comes to show that we appreciate others as best we can, whenever we can. And do what you can to take time for yourself, renewal and self-care are so important these days and helps us to better care for others. We do so with the Sacred Spirit alive and present with us in our lives and in the world.

As a people of faith we continue to be called to live life abundantly and to empower others in doing so as well. In honouring Black History Month in this week’s Worship celebration we will engage through song and word the struggle and blessing of our siblings in humanity within the Black community here in Canada and in the world. In this exploration and in the reading for the week from James 2:1–10, 14–17 we will be asked to reflect on some questions such as:

-       How does our society treat minorities?

-       How do we as a church engage this social dynamic in our faith community?

-       If society treats people minorities differently how does our life of faith call us to respond?

-       If someone who was completely different from you shows up for church how are you prepared to welcome them?

-       Does this differ from how you are prepared to welcome someone with whom you have much in common?

-       What can we do to ensure we are prepared to welcome people who are alienated by the rest of society?

-       What can we do as a community to help society share our commitment to welcome and inclusion of people who are marginalised?

I look forward to lifting up the struggle and journey of our neighbours and continuing our commitment to being a welcoming community this week and into the future.

Peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


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Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                   February 18th, 2021


It's great to return from leave and see so many of you this week in our life and work together. It has been so nice to see everyone online at the Shrove Tuesday event, the Ash Wednesday Service, in board meetings, and gatherings for our Lenten Journey with the ECOfast and Lenten Imaginings. It is a very different experience than prior years and yet as we ZOOM into this time of Lent we can still engage in preparation and reflection as we journey toward Easter.


Looking at this week's reading from Genesis 9:8-17 we are given a  glimpse of the rainbow after the storm. The peace we find there, with a promise that The Holy One is at peace with all living beings, is a beautiful image even as it reminds us of the conflict that precedes it.


The Rainbow in the sky as rain ends is a reminder of the covenant, the promise, that we, all living beings, are the focus of God's Steadfast-Loving-Kindness, and yet is the need for a reminder important? In engaging this question more deeply we may want to ask ourselves:


-       What was it that gave us the sense of being in conflict with the Divine to begin with?

-       Was the conflict in this story really with God or were humans seeking to understand the spiritual aspects of suffering in life or the things we do to each other and the planet?

-       Does this covenant of love call us to love the world, ourselves, and others more deeply?

-       Does it let us off easy when we fall short?

-       Where are we called to share this love in the world?

-       Where does humanity need to build its own rainbows of peace? With one another, ourselves, the environment?


I look forward to exploring the journey together throughout Lent as we gather insights into expressing our relationship with the divine and all the world.


Peace and hope,

Rev. Ryan Fea

MDiv

ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


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Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                   January 28th, 2021


This week has been one of creativity and visioning, the Merging Waters Board and many committees have been hard at work. We are seeking to put this time of change, where things are shaken up, to work and explore different ways of being the church. There has been much creativity in fundraisers, worship, and programs which continue to inspire some upcoming events that I hope you will all keep and eye out for on the website and midweek message.

As I have lifted the community in my prayers for hope and support, I continue to lift up prayers of thanksgiving for each of you bringing your particular personality, inspiration, and gifts to our life as a community of faith. There have been troubles and challenges during this pandemic but you have risen to meet them with faithful and loving community. We have faced the reality of limits with honest feelings leading to acceptance, and met with passion the call to continue our work as a people who celebrate togetherness. The Spirit is alive in the life of Merging Waters which we are showing is not put to an end by challenge but rather inspired to find and encourage life abundantly lived.

This week Merging Waters will share our commitment to vision and answering the call to be faithful community at all times as we host the Combined West Island United Churches in Worship. We will be reminded by engaging the readings this week, 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 and Mark 1:14-20, of our call to discipleship and hope of renewal found in the message that is shared in the life of Jesus.

As we move, not only toward this week’s service but also into the future of the church, let us look at ourselves, our congregations, journey of faith, wider community and world continuing to ask:

-       Who are we?

I look forward to answering this and other questions in our continued journey, as we embrace the ways that these answers will inform our decisions and actions.


Lifting prayers of peace and courage for each one of you,

Rev. Ryan Fea,

MDiv 

ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


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Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                     January 21st, 2021


We are in a week that has held historic events for our neighbours in the world. This week continues to be a time when we all struggle with the realities of a pandemic. We live in a time when the world faces climate change, economic ups and downs, and we all face the challenges and blessings of our daily lives. I continue to lift you all up in my prayers of hope and continue to see this family of faith holding one another in our hearts as we journey together.

The journey of faith as we travel the road of life together and as individuals has many hills and plateaus, and can often throw us curves when we least expect them. In our readings from this week’s lectionary, we will engage the story of Jonah. His journey has brought him to a place where he is called upon by the Holy One to bring a message to his greatest enemy. A message that will save his enemies from calamity, these are people who have brought pain and anguish to countless peoples in the world including his own. 

His story of resisting the forgiveness of enemies, even as God can love those who hurt or betray us, brings up some hard questions for ourselves:

-       Can we learn to forgive those who hurt us?

         o   How important is this to a process of healing?

         o   Is it sometimes beyond us to forgive others and ourselves?

-       When can the Divine help us to heal by forgiving us all when we cannot do it on our own?

-       Can we help others to find forgiveness in time when healing is needed for all to move forward?

As we seek to journey forward in times that are demanding and promising I am grateful that we travel this road together.


Peace and hope,

Rev. Ryan Fea,

MDiv 

ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


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Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                     January 14th, 2021


As we continue in these times of challenge and of promise, I have been holding the community in my prayers. Lifting up hopes for each one of you, that you will know you are not alone. As we journey even in hard times, maybe especially at hard times, we can feel a call to ask ourselves who we are and how we express this to the world. As seekers on this journey, we look to be found and to find the Divine as well as one another on the road of life.


This week's readings, 1 Samuel 3: 1-10 and John 1: 43-51, remind as of being sought, seen, and found but also of seeing and finding. Called, inspired, or drawn, into lives of faith through the encounter with the Holy One In All we can reflect on these passages in asking ourselves some questions:


-       Where have I felt that the Divine has called me into relationship?

-       Where have I found the Sacred in my relationships with others?

-       When have I felt like I have been truly seen by God? By others?

-       When have I felt that I have seen others through the eyes of the Spirit?

-       How do we show this finding in our choices and our actions?


I look forward to continuing to engage with the scriptures together this Sunday as we expand upon how we are called.


Peace and hope,

Rev. Ryan Fea,

MDiv 

ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


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Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                     January 7th, 2021


I would like to start this first message of 2021 with gratitude: Many thanks to all of you who sent emails, texts, and cards so full of warmth and love to Luke and I this season. They have warmed our hearts and our home. Thank you to those who shared Christmas treats with us. It was so kind and so fun to get a text message here and there telling us that something was dropped off for us to enjoy. You did it safely and lovingly and, while our waistlines might not, we thank you for that. This has been a year where we all needed reminders of love and support to get by and we have all shared those together.

Another thank you is one for us all. I am so grateful that despite a pandemic, even, as we have lamented our time apart, missing the physical presence that has brought us joy we have worked with what we’ve got to be the best we can be. We have had a sense of privilege challenged we were reminded by a virus that we are all connected and none of us made immune by position, wealth, faith, or commitment. We have been reminded of the inequities in our health and care systems, and in the unjust treatment of racialized peoples. What we have done in response however, has shown who we are.

The work of Outreach, pastoral care, education, yoga, administration, and worship in showing our love for the Divine in all has continued despite the need for additional steps, physical distance, and the learning of new technologies. Our online discussions, Zoom Worships, and activities like the Twelve Days BEFORE Christmas allow us to continue to bring joy and community to so many. We have continued to lift up our song of faith in different ways and while they were not the same, we looked still to the future.
Aware that things will not always be this way and that we can find opportunities to continue to be relevant and who we are even in the face of sweeping change. God continues to call us into a vibrant and active life of faith and service to the world.

So, we let each other know that we miss one another and we use whatever tools we can to continue to share in community as best we can. To all who continue to show the world that we are a loving community ready to show love, even in new ways, Thank You!

This week as we join in worship, at the beginning of a year that offered promise and challenge, we will seek to remember the connected nature of our existence. Connected with the Divine, Creation, and one another we will ask:     

-       How do our choices show the connected nature of our lives?


Matthew 25:40 will continue to inspire us this week to ask our questions and

seek to understand the Divine in all.


Peace and hope,

Rev. Ryan Fea,

MDiv 

ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com





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Dear friends,                                                                                                      Dec 22nd, 2020


 As we prepare to welcome the Christ child into the world once more, I have held you all in my heart and my prayers. As a community called to serve God in loving and serving others we have continued to seek to reach out to others even in the challenges of this year. It has been hard on us all and still we seek renewal in Christmas and the Divine connection within humanity. What will we find in the manger when we visit Jesus newly born in each of us this year?


This year has felt like a year of firsts. Everything has been so changed that every day has felt like we are doing something for the first time. Learners all in every aspect of life once more, like being born into a new world. There is much struggle in that and yet much promise isn't there? We may have lost much but we have gained new insights, skills, and connections. Some have had a harder time than others this year, having lost loved ones, others have felt a loss of community as they lacked the skills, technology, or motivation to celebrate our togetherness in new ways. And still, we find that we are not alone, we do live in God's world who comes to us wherever we are and whomever we are with. At home, in the church buildings, parks, the quiet of gardens or chalets, in a phone call with a family member, in the eyes of a friend over a mask that's saving our lives, or a stranger across the street who waves just to be nice.


Each year we celebrate the birth of Jesus and each year we explore the meaning for ourselves as well as for this community and world. The idea that Divinity can be found in humanity and indeed chooses to be found in us is a profound one. Just as profound is our own agency, our capacity to choose to engage of our own volition, as active participants in the Sacred. An invitation to the manger, Jesus born into the world, is also an invitation to have God be born in our hearts. Something that is shown in our actions every day.


The invitation to follow the Christmas star remains every day of the year. As we join Mary and Joseph, angels, and shepherds, in welcoming Jesus into the world can we also welcome him into our hearts like its the first time? Is this the perfect time to embrace what Jesus has taught us with the passion and enthusiasm of a new beginning? That God is love, and that the Holy One invites us to the great joy of midwifing love to all the world. I hope this Christmas that each of you will find fulfilling ways to let love overflow your heart, so you may pour it into the world. Sharing it as freely as Jesus did, giving it all to those around us, and letting those around share it with us.


May we all welcome Christ to be born in us every day.


Merry Christmas to all!


Peace, hope, joy, and love,


Rev Ryan Fea

MDiv                                                                                         Please click this link for PDF version


Dear Merging Waters,                                                                                                      Dec 17th, 2020


This week we continue in our Advent journey stewarding, inspiring and uplifting, one another in Love. There are many ways that we can hold to our faith and be the people we hope to be as a community of faith. Luke 1:46-55 reminds us that when facing difficult choices, we can stay true to ourselves as we live out what we believe.

Mary believed that the Divine love she felt present in her motherhood was worth risking the dangers it posed. She stood by who she claimed to be even if it risked her betrothal, her status in society, and even her life. Her persistent faith, ready to make hard choices, reminds us that our faith can get us through hard times. It comforts us that we are not alone, and challenges us to be steadfast in the face of difficulty.

Mary sang the Spirit’s Song within her heart even as she faced uncertainty and chose to act, rooted in what she believed, on who she claimed to be at all times – good or bad. Her integrity of faith filled her life with joy, love, and hope in the Good News.

As a people committed to community, we may ask ourselves:

-       Who do we claim to be?

o   A people of love who wish to include as many as we can? All?

-       What can distance do to stop our love?

-       Who are we here for, some? Few? All?

-       How do we stand firm in our commitment to community even in times that are difficult?

-       What can we do now to help one another in dealing with the hard times?

-       If we cannot be together physically how do we show our belief that this connection continues even when we are far apart?

Many have shared their lament with me that we all miss being in-person, I too have had a hard time adjusting to the new realities. I have found that there is solace and oneness found in choosing lament over complaint, to include rather than exclude, to hope despite fear, choosing to be for the safety and love of all.

As we journey toward the Child of Bethlehem, I look forward to sharing the road with this community of believers and seekers. Welcoming all who choose to be in togetherness, leaving no one out of our love.


In the peace and hope of Christmas,


Rev. Ryan Fea

MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                      Dec 3rd, 2020


As we continue our Advent Journey, having been reminded last week to hold onto a piece of Peace, we Steward this week Advent Joy.
We are reminded 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:


“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”


In these times of difficulty, as Advent asks us how we will let Jesus into our lives once more, it might be hard to rejoice always. We have all experienced loss and grief in this time. And yet we are a loving community who care for the world and one another. We understand that we are loved beyond measure even at the most difficult of times, and seek to take hope from this. So, in this time of joy, we can ask ourselves:


-  What is it that has brought us joy in the past? Something that you miss?

          -  What is the core factor in that joyfulness?

-  In these times is there a silver lining in the clouds? Something new you can enjoy?

          -  More time with God?

          -  Catching up on your reading?

          -  Opportunities to commune with nature?

          -  Greater appreciation of time with others when we’re back?

-  What happens in this time that has value for you? That you might even miss when we are no longer as much apart or isolated?


If what brings you joy is the chance to sing Christmas Carols at home, you are in for a treat this Christmas season. We will lift up our voices and our hearts on Friday sharing our favourite carols during the church café; singing them as well as sharing the stories that made them our fav. We will join together in song during our live worship services on Zoom, with recordings of our entire community singing to lead us in some of our carols. The Christmas Eve service will be filled with song and story. Even our ecumenical service on December 27th will be filled with song, carols, and laughter.


At this time of seeking to let Christ into our lives in new ways I look forward to our continued times of sharing in the stewardship of Advent in sharing and caring for one another. Let us grieve, seek, and celebrate together in all ways and all times seeking to see Divinity in all.


Peace and hope,

Rev. Ryan Fea

MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                      Dec 3rd, 2020


This year our Advent Journey will explore ways that our life as a church, a community of faith, stewards – inspires, supports, and encourages – us to experience and express hope, peace, joy, and love in our lives. In this faith journey we share small acts of kindness, faith, and community that make a big difference in the lives of others.

As we approach the Sunday of Peace, still deep within our continued seeking of Hope, I know that we share the deep longing that is expressed with anticipation in Advent. Most years we anticipate the blessing of time with loved ones and community in gatherings at home or in the church buildings. We will celebrate our togetherness in new and different ways. This year is one where we all need to find a little more peace in our lives to share with the world. As we look to Isaiah 40:1-11 we will be reminded that we are offered peace through our lives of faith. Calling us to offer comfort, so that all may have peace.

As we journey throughout Advent members of the congregation have volunteered to share their stories. Stories of how their lives of faith have inspired actions of peace, joy, and love in their own lives and those of others.

I encourage everyone to reflect on three questions this week:

-       How has your faith journey within the community of Merging Waters brought you peace?

-       How have you been inspired to express this peace or comfort?

-       How did this expression bring peace into the lives of others?

I wish you all peace and hope in this season of challenge and beauty, let us seek comfort so as to better love one another and this world in our journey this Sunday.

Peace and hope,


Rev. Ryan Fea


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            Nov 19th, 2020


Last week’s Outreach service was an excellent reminder of the work of the church. The work of waking the Divine Dream for the World. A dream of peace, hope, love, and justice for all that the Merging Waters community has at its core. A dream that has shaped our identity and that we continue to work to awaken today, changing lives with justice and compassion, showing love to all the world.

This week we will look to Matthew 25:1-13 to remind us that it takes continuing this deep commitment for us to truly live our faith with authenticity. The passage underscores that our intentional planning and commitment to support these actions will help to midwife this dream into reality.

We call that Stewardship.

The Spirit calls us, through Jesus, to see our faithful commitment, Stewardship, Care of the World as Sacred, in different ways. Let’s ask ourselves some questions about this:

-       What have we been doing in our community to bring about a world united in love?

-       How have we been preparing for the growth and continuation of the sacred work we do?

-       We know that mission and community cannot be sustained without resources. What are we going to share to fulfill our mission and show our commitment?

-       What things can hold us back from showing a full commitment?

-       How can we continue to live out our lives of faith even as the world changes?

-       How can we help it to change for the better?

I look forward to being joined by members of our Stewardship teams in this week’s worship service. We will seek renewal and inspiration together in showing our commitment to lives of faith.

Blessings of peace and hope,


Rev. Ryan Fea


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            Nov 12th, 2020


Last week we reflected on Amos spurring us to fulfill the Divine call for justice to flow like rivers. This week we will celebrate the ways that Merging Waters, both Beaurepaire United and Union Church, have, do, and can love kindness, do justice and walk humbly with our God. These words from Micah 6:8 inspired a hymn that is difficult to sing in groups without practice – it’s done in the round – and almost impossible today, but even more importantly is one of the passages that has inspired Outreach and Mission.

Let’s ask ourselves what Outreach, as faith in action, means to us:

-       The term has long been used by the church, do others know what it is to us?

-       Are “community/relationship building” or “community/social engagement” terms that could help others understand what we mean by Outreach/Mission?

-       Inspired by our faith how do we do Outreach? As a group? Individually?

-       In our lives of faith are we called to say we love God, others, and creation or to show it through our actions? Can it be both instead of either/or?

-       We can still do Outreach in the pandemic, but which ways call to you?

I am looking forward to the service lead this week by the Outreach Committee that will celebrate our deep roots of sharing our love, work, and faith with the world. Traditions of faith in action that continue to grow and live today.
Let’s see what blossoms!


Peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            Nov 5th, 2020


Over the past few weeks, we have lifted up those who have shared the journey with us, and sought inner peace. This week, as we reflect upon the need for peace in this world, we will hear from Amos 5:18-24 that it is through authentic faithful living, with justice flowing like rivers, that we fulfill the wish, awaken the dream, that the Divine holds for us and this world.

In the context of Remembrance Day, a world living a pandemic, racialized and religiously-motivated violence, uncertain economic and political realities, we may find it helpful to ask ourselves some questions:

-       How can we share the peace we find in our faith with others?

-       If we are called to express our faith through acts of justice is demanding just solutions from our leaders a way to encourage peace?

-       If justice is an avenue to peace in the world what are things we can do to find peace for: veterans and civilians? Nature? People who are racialized and marginalized? Those impacted by poverty?

-       What are the ways of peace that can already be lifted up and celebrated in our faith community?

We will seek the ways of peace through justice in our worship and work this week.

Peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            Oct 29th, 2020

Last week we spoke of finding inner peace to strengthen and support us for our journey of faith. This week we lift up the people who have supported this journey and brought us forward in faith. Those people who have come before us and journeyed with us who have spent their lives asking hard questions and making difficult decisions that have resulted in the church becoming what it was in the past and what it is today.

This week looking at Revelation and Matthew we learn about the wide variety of those called to the life and work of being the children of God. Called to respect the agency of those who are marginalised and disempowered, to comfort one another in our times of weakness while challenging one another in our strengths. Those who are called to make peace, and to resist evil by overturning oppression. 

-       Who in your life has nurtured your faith?

-       For whom have you been a comfort and a challenge?

-       Who has been a peacemaker in your life?

-       When have you seen the church (the people of God) empower those who are marginalized?

-       How do we honour the work of those who have kept the church alive and grow?

We will take time this Sunday to lift those who have joined us on the journey and have died in the last year. We will also have opportunities to remember all those throughout our lives who have nurtured us on the journey - sharing in the long line of Saints, the cloud of witnesses of the power of love enacted in the world.

I hope you can all join us in our live service on Zoom this week.

Peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Theologians that link you back to Jesus of Nazareth for All Saints Day – Can you find others? If you prefer replace some of these names with family and church members.
      << Your name here >>

21st century – Nadia Bolz-Weber
20th century – John Shelby Spong
19th century – Paul Johannes Tillich
18th century – Friedrich Schleiermacher
17th century – John Owen
16th century – Martin Luther
15th century – Ignatius of Loyola & Magdalene of Nagasaki
14th century – Bridget of Sweden
13th century – Thomas Aquinas
12th century – Francis of Assisi
11th century – Anselm
10th century – Bernard of Claivaux
9th century – Paschasius Radbertus 
8th century – Isidore of Seville
7th century – Isaac of Nineveh 
6th century – Benedict of Nursia
5th century – Boethius
4th century – Catherine of Alexandria
3rd century – Perpetua
2nd century – Felicitas
1st century – Apostle Paul of Tarsus
Jesus of Nazareth

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            Oct 22nd, 2020

This week's reading from Matthew 22:34-36 is, if not the most well known, one of the Gospel passages that are most often referred to. And why shouldn't it be? It encourages us to love the Divine and to love one another as we love ourselves. Neighbours being those near and far, enemies and friends alike. What better description could there be of the core behaviour that defines Christianity? This passage has been a familiar part of encouraging so many to follow in the way of Jesus, in whom we find the Christ, as we seek out our paths on the journey.


There is a less-explored theme from this passage that I believe is important to ask about in these times. "As you love yourself."


●     If we live in a world of people who have forgotten how to love themselves how will they love others?

●     We are called to love our enemies, are we first at peace with, and love, ourselves?

●     How can we find peace so as to share that peace with the world?

●     What spiritual practices can help us to find peace with and within ourselves?

●     Understanding that the Divine has no secrets with us; does it help to realise that we are already fully known and fully loved just as we are?


I look forward to exploring ways of inner peace in our Worship Celebration this week.


Blessings of peace and hope,


Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            Oct 16th, 2020

This week’s theme is World Food Sunday. Each year on this Sunday in past we have been asked to bring offerings of non-perishables to go to local Food Banks. There are many reasons for sharing with those who have less than we do and are entwined with expressions our journey of faith. As we listen to the teachings of Jesus and the wisdom found within our scriptures, as the Spirit moves within our hearts and lives, seeing the generosity and compassion of those around us, we are inspired to share.

As we work to feed others, inspired by others and the love within ourselves to kindness and empathy we can ask ourselves some questions:

-       In giving do we also receive?

-       Through sharing and compassion, working for justice and inclusion, are we given a sense of fulfillment?

-       Do we find that we are fed on another level through the spiritual practice of generosity?

There are links available in the Midweek Message and the Order of Worship for this week and the past several weeks to give to local food banks. If you are in a position to give please do. Another great way to support food security is to give internationally through programs like Suitcases for Africa, Caring for Kenya, and the Ebi Kimanani Scholarship. I know that you all give in many ways; I lift up my thanks every day for the ways that Merging Waters is a great blessing to the world near and far. Let’s keep it up!

As we continue to explore the challenges and blessings of our faith journey, I look forward to seeking with you once again this week in our live online worship.


Blessings of peace and hope to all,

Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            Oct 8th, 2020

As we continue in our theme of Creation time this week we are asked to reflect upon how we share the abundant gifts of nature that touch every aspect of our lives. The reading from 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 reminds us that the more that is given the greater the response. This theme coincides by design with Thanksgiving Sunday.

Let us reflect momentarily on the gifts we have been given and the way we share with others.

-       Seeing the grandeur of creation that has been shared with us - stars and nebulae, forests and wind, our only home and life-support, our Mother the Earth - how do we respond?

-       Being the image of the Creator, a reflection of the Divine, called to walk with God not as God, what do we do to project the reflection of God’s generous nature?

-       Do we share best when we accept that all are needed?

-       All those present now, and those who will be in the future?

-       When we are shown the generosity of all of our blessings – intelligence, the presence of the Spirit, belonging found in community, love that comforts us in our weakness and challenges us in our strength, are we moved to response?

-       In a time where we cannot be together in old ways do, we show our gratitude by embracing new ways of togetherness?

-       What does sharing with others, understanding that all are needed, mean in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic?

-       If the Divine presence is found in the greatest and the least of all what are we moved to share with those who are least blest in these times?

As I lift my own thankfulness for this community of faith and our many blessings, I look forward to embracing the Spirit in generosity in our live online worship.

May we all be blessed with peace, hope, and generosity,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            Oct 1st, 2020

Looking at the text of 1 Kings 19:8-12 Elijah is hard-pressed to find the Divine presence in a windstorm, and most who’ve been in the middle of one have a hard time feeling bathed in love at that moment. It’s understandable that in the silence that falls afterward it is easier to feel God’s presence for many. It’s easy to find love in birdsong and summer fields. What of ice and mosquitos?

Let’s consider the cycle of life, the impact humanity has on the environment, and that for nature to thrive resources need to cycle. Rain, and sun, even natural erosion, give life, snow and ice give rest and control population. Even fire under natural conditions can bring renewal to a forest. Earthquakes are a side effect of the geological forces that help maintain our atmosphere, keep the planet warm and spinning, and protect us from falling space debris.


- Can we love those big disruptions that nourish the life forms that provide us with beauty and resources?

- If the weather is getting more extreme in response to humanity’s treatment of nature is this an indication of the will of God?

- Are we being called to appreciate the Divine in the floodwaters?

- How is asking us to love creation asking us to control our behaviour?

- If mosquitoes and black flies help the lifecycle of bats, flycatchers, swallows, and warblers, dragonflies and damselflies can we learn to love them?

- If loving creation means a better life for others – using and sharing resources with respect and fairness to eschew pollution, overcrowding, and eliminating poverty - does loving creation mean loving ourselves as well?


Let us ask ourselves how we love Creation the easy way and the hard way, finding the Spirit’s presence in all things, as we gather in our live-online worship this week.


Blessings of peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDi

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            Sept 24th, 2020


It’s come again this year, even in the time of COVID-19, even in new ways, the work of the church continues with our Annual General Meetings that have begun. This process has been made slightly different due to the realities of the pandemic; we are meeting on Zoom. It’s easy to use and helps to keep us all safe, if a little different.

What is not different is the importance of members to share in continuing the work and relationships of this community of faith by participating. Being heard and committing to the decisions of the church is an aspect of the dynamic and inclusive spirit of the United Church – we are diverse, we don’t always agree, but we work, live, and discern our path together in unity with the Spirit as our constant companion.


I am reminded of Matthew 5:37 “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’.” Listen. Share. Vote. Whatever your stance is on the decisions of the church, commit to it, with an open heart. We contribute to the work and life of the church in participating.


    -    How will you participate in the life of the church this week?

    -    What direction is the Divine calling us to follow in these times?

    -    What impact will the decisions that are made have on the future of this community?


I’m grateful for the courage of the members who are meeting in new ways, the generosity of time and talent shared by those volunteering to support the work of these meetings, and the vision of the board and chairs for continuing to seek ways to live out the life, relationships, and mission of the church! Together we will continue this journey.


Peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            Sept 16th, 2020


As we continue our Creation Time theme of asking “What Is Creation Saying To Us?” this week we are asked to listen to the wisdom of creation. Job 12:7–12 and John 1:1-5 ask us to look to nature to find the wisdom of the Holy one shared within living things. The Gospel According to John is quite explicit in its statements that life itself denotes the Divine presence and will. In Job, we are asked to look to the lives of animals and plants to seek a greater understanding of the ordering of the universe.


I am moved to ask myself some questions that I hope we will all consider:


    -    What wisdom do we glean from the lives of plants and animals?

    -    Have you had a moment of peace, clarity, understanding from what you have seen of nature?

                  -    In learning about how plants and animals interact with their environment?

                  -    In learning the impact that changes to the environments have on plants and animals?

    -    How do we express our relationship with the Great Spirit in our treatment of the life around us? In our treatment of     
         animals, plants, and humans?

    -    Where do we find comfort, peace, or hope within our interactions?


As we continue in exploring Creation Time I look forward to reflecting on these and other questions.


Blessings of peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                                  Sept 9th, 2020

 

We move from the season of Summer this year a little more uncertain than usual. But we move
nonetheless toward fall, a time of harvest and cooling of the weather for us in the Northern
Hemisphere. As we start to see the green leaves turn to gold, amber, red, and brown we can
reflect on the summer that has past as a challenging time of uncertainty and isolation to be sure. We can
also reflect upon a summer filled with quiet times with ourselves, with the Divine, and with nature. Many of
us have spent time at chalets, in parks, in and around our homes and the region.


This week starts the Creation Time season within the United church and we will be looking at two readings,
Isaiah 55:12–56:2 and Revelation 22:1–5 that call us to delight in Creation. We have gone out in joy to
places where we are in touch with nature. A picnic in the park, a trip to the woods with close family, a walk
outside to rejuvenate us and many have come back with peace. Children have expended energy running in
the fields, a quiet time spent breathing fresh air, an inspiring sunset have given us pause and calm. And we
return to our homes, hopefully with a greater sense of the connectedness with the world.


So this week I would ask that we reflect on two questions:


       - Where have you found peace and joy, delighted, in nature?
       - Where was the Divine, the Holy One, Spirit of Life, for you in that moment?


Looking forward to delighting in Creation with you this week in our worship and lives together.


Peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea,
MDiv

 

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                  Sept 2nd, 2020


This week’s reading marks another big jump in the narrative, this time of Exodus, from Moses’ encounter with the burning bush now to the tenth plague of Egypt and a call for the Israelites enslaved there to prepare to seek freedom in the wilderness. Exodus 12:1-14 speaks of many things: plagues brought down against oppressors, faithful adherence to ways of blessing, holding a day of rest as Sabbath, a pretty extreme way to BBQ, and a call for the people to prepare for a journey to an unknown Promised Land. The terrifying and fantastical imagery of Exodus in relation to the plagues of Egypt make for great movies and special effects but they always leave me asking some questions about the author of this and other Biblical narratives, about our relationship and understanding of the Divine, and our own sense of agency or willingness to discern our actions.

Some questions we may want to consider in engaging this reading are:

-          Does the author mean to say that the plagues are a literal punishment committed directly by God or do they mean something else?

o   What are the alternatives? Could our treatment of others and of nature have natural results – which if they were set in motion by the Divine Wisdom equates to God’s will?

-          If the plagues, and other curses mentioned in scripture or even modern life, are punishment for being cruel to others or the destruction of nature how can we justify mistreatment of anyone or of nature in our society?

-          If they are the natural result of mistreating others and the world, do we not have the same difficulty in justifying complacency or even complicity with injustice and environmental degradation?

-          What does it say to us about our faith journey that the Biblical narrative has repeated instances of exile, renewal, corruption and indictment of that corruption?

-          What is it about our relationship with the Sacred that brings us back time and again to our faith journey?

-          Can we always start anew? Are we called to start journey to new ways of life today? Where do we find our connection with the Sacred in all this? A Holy One that never gives up on us?

Looking forward to engaging these and other questions together on our continued journey. And to joining in worship this week as Merging Waters hosts the final of the Shared Summer Worship Series with our neighbours on the West Island and Laval.


Blessings of peace and hope be with you all,


Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                                Aug 26th, 2020


There are various ways to understand the story of Exodus as we have received it. Archeologist and Biblical scholars/historians debate about how accurate it is historically, if it is an amalgamation of narratives. Others say it is a moral lesson on slavery – reminding us that falling to fear can move people to do terrible things – and the struggle against oppression and injustice. Some suggest it’s an origin story that was first put down in writing after the Babylonian exile, so that a people may know who they are.

The prominent view is that no matter its source that the story is a traditional understanding that the people sought out freedom. They found that uplifting for the downtrodden, care for the discarded, and resistance to oppressors in YAHWEH.  Seeking freedom from oppressive rulers, imprisonment and slavery, the people of the story of Exodus encounter “I AM” in the wilderness, places of discovery, and are inspired to act.


These are the main themes of Exodus 3:1-15:

·         Theophany, an encounter with the divine, in unexpected places.

·         A call is given by the Holy One come and is received with doubt.

·         A call is affirmed - despite doubts the Spirit of Love has faith in you.

These themes call us to reflect on some questions:

-       What role are we asked to fulfill in response to oppression?

-       What are the things that hold us back from fulfilling our call to be a people of faith today?

-       What oppressive systems, fears, prejudices, and discriminatory practices, are we called by the Spirit of Love to support one another in the struggle against in our world? In ourselves?  

-       What do we hear when we hear that “I AM” is calling us to act in faithful ways?

·         Do we hear “I am just,” “I am love,” “I am here”:

-       How do respond to this call? Do we?


Let us seek to answer these and more questions together.


Blessings of peace and hope,

Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                                Aug 20th, 2020


This week’s passage from Exodus 1:8-2:10 holds major themes that relate the story of Moses to the story of creation and the promise of the a great nation that is a blessing to the world, discussing the courage of the least powerful in the face of oppression, and standing up for the rights and safety of others even at risk to ones self. This passage is often been referred to as the Hebrew Bible’s most important statement on the courage and leadership of women. Indeed, the difference in social, political, and military power between the ancient Pharaoh of Egypt and a childless-unmarried midwife, or a Hebrew slave, is so large that it’s impossible to describe by modern Canadian standards. The danger of defying the Pharaoh would be a horrible-torturous death to say the least.


Despite the difference in power between them and the Pharaoh we see here that Egyptian midwives and oppressed Israelite women stand up for the must vulnerable and themselves in defiance of a command from their ruler. The one in power is calling for action that is unconscionable and they do all that they can to defy it. They don’t call him out on it. Some might say it is not a noble act to deceive their ruler or sneak around, yet in their context what choice did they have in standing up for what is right?


What lesson are we asked to take from this story?


Nelson Mandela famously said “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave [person] is not [one] who does not feel afraid, but [one] who conquers that fear.”


-        Are we taking on in our lives the lesson that Mr. Mandela and others have embraced in our history?

-        How are we brave in our daily lives?

-        Do we take risks for our own benefit or the benefit of others?

-        Like the women of this story, do we find that taking courageous actions to protect and uphold others also benefits us?

-        How do we act to protect the oppressed?

-        In our context, with the rights we all enjoy in Canada, can we be more vocal in telling truth to power?

-        As people who follow the message of Jesus of Nazareth, are we called to speak truth to power even in the face of adversity?

                  - Is this story from Genesis one of the ways that the women and men of the story of the Bible taught Jesus to do so too?


Here at Merging Waters there are women, whom I know the men and women of our pastoral charge lift up as courageous. Women past and present, mothers, daughters, friends and family, who stand up for what is right, making hard choices, to make the world better for all people even in the face of challenge. Women who care for others and call for justice. They join Canadian women and women around the world in lifting up justice with courage. I would encourage us all to remind ourselves of others who have done so in checking out pages like this one https://humanrights.ca/story/five-women-all-canadians-should-know  that reminds us that women had and continue to stand up in a world that very often puts them down. Examples of real people, imperfect, fearful, and brave. How will these examples, and those we encounter and live every day continue to enliven our story as a people of faith?


I lift my thanks to God for the inspiration of women who act for justice, for the men who stand with them, and that I see their work ever day. This journey of courageous faithful people continues, in new ways and old, in our life here at Merging Waters.

Wishing you grace and peace,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                             Aug 13th, 2020


The lectionary hasn’t given us much time to covering the entire story of Joseph. A story that has warranted musicals and film. So, let’s take some time now to reflect on his journey. This week’s reading from Genesis 45: 1-15 happens after Joseph, favoured son of Rachel and Jacob, having been beaten and sold into slavery in Egypt by his own brothers, has found favour with the Pharaoh because of his ability to interpret dreams. His gifts have helped Egypt to weather a famine that has not spared his family and so Joseph here – having been through times of great suffering and pain – meets his brothers who are now refugees in Egypt. And he embraces them with forgiveness.


Joseph hasn’t had an overt encounter with God in his story like others in Genesis. And yet he finds the Holy One active in his life in this reading. He doesn’t revel in his suffering nor does he justify it as something that was desirable but he does acknowledge that through it all the Spirit was with him. The Divine moved with him into a time and place where his gifts could help not only himself but many others. His abilities helped an entire nation, who could be seen as his enemies, avoid destruction. He could even use them to help the family who has alienated him. And he does while forgiving them.

 

Then he bursts into weeping.


- Was this a catharsis?
     • Was it about reconciliation with brothers? Worry for his father?
     • Did the culmination of all his trials and tribulations, now that he has some stability and even family with
       him, lead to an outpouring of feeling?
     • Is this a time he can finally let out all the emotion that was pent up through an extended time of crisis?
     • Was it an emotional response to realising that he was not alone in all of what had happened to him?
     • All of the above and more?
- Today, are we aware of the presence of the Sacred Spirit, the Holy One, in the ups and downs of our lives?
- Is this a time we need to share our feelings? Is it time for an outpouring?
- What gifts can we share with one another? With those who have wronged us? With our family?


As we continue our reflections this summer along with our neighbours from the West Island and Laval let’s remember that we do not journey alone. We have one another and we have the steadfast loving kindness, חֶסֶֶד (ḥesed), of God who journeys with us.


Blessings of peace and hope,

Rev. Ryan Fea

MDiv

 

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                        July 15th, 2020


Reading Genesis 28:10 – 19a as we will this week in Worship, we hear the story of Jacob encountering the Divine somewhere he didn’t expect. He’s on a journey, sleeping outside with a rock for a pillow, probably not prepared to meet God. Yet, here he is dreaming of celestial beings, a conduit connecting spirit and physics, and a conversation with the Holy One. In this unfamiliar and uncomfortable place Jacob finds a thin space, a place where the physical and the spiritual intersect. The connection between the sensual experience of life meets the ethereal experience of the Eternal. It seems to happen in a place of discovery and discomfort that, for the place and the person in the story, means a major change of understanding and identity.

In times of journeying, discomfort, and discovery:

-       Have you found yourself in a thin place, somewhere that you encountered the Divine?

-       Where were you? Can you revisit it or have you moved beyond it?

-       What insights did you gain about your relationship with the sacred?

-       How did you feel to sense God’s presence with you in hard times?

-       Was it a comfort? A challenge? A surprise?

-       What can we do to help times of discomfort become times of discovery?

-       How can the Spirit of Love help?

-       How can the Church help?

Looking forward to exploring the thin places together as we seek our Spiritual Center in times of disquiet and discovery, as we do in times of normality and comfort.


Blessings of peace and hope,


Rev. Ryan Fea, MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                       July 8th, 2020


This week's Gospel reading from Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 is that of the parable of the Sower of Seeds. Parables challenge social convention and give us the opposite of what was expected at the time. Jesus reminds us that being set in our ways by tradition, being stubborn, or by being overly fearful closes us off from the blessings of love and hope found in his message. We must be prepared so as to be able to nurture God's dream for us of love lived out in and for the world. In this parable we hear of the seeds of the Divine dream for us being scattered and yet they don't grow just anywhere. We are asked to consider if we are prepared to awaken God's Dream in ourselves.

On the path:

●     Are those of us who are comfortable with the routine or tradition - the way things are - so used to the beaten path that we are closed off to new growth, even if it is from seeds of love?

The Rocky soil:

●     Are we being steadfast when we refuse to be flexible in the face of a call to change, or stubborn?

●     Christ's message has been one of love embraced in new ways over the years, do we need to soften so we can let the Holy One's love nurture how we act?

The Thorn-choked ground:

●     Are those of us who have been hurt often too afraid of opening up to a message of hope due to being stung too often in this world?

●     Could that hope help us and others to heal?

The Prepared soil:

●     When have you felt that you were moved to faithful actions (seeking justice, loving kindness, walking humbly with the Divine) by Jesus' message?

●     What helped you to be in a place where you were receptive?

●     What can the church, your community of faith, do to help you to be prepared to continue to grow the seeds of love?

●     What can we do to help one another be prepared?

We will continue to be surprised by the scriptures and by the Spirit as we continue our journey together and with the wider community this summer and into the future.

Hoping to be ready for the cultivation.

Blessings of peace and hope,

Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv



Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                       July 3rd, 2020


I hope that you have had a great couple of weeks, as you know I was off on leave. Luke and I have enjoyed time together. I have gotten my inline skates back in working order and enjoyed discovering some of the area around Ste-Anne and Senneville. While I skate, though I always pay attention to my surroundings, I often find myself on two journeys.


The physical journey of exercise and movement, and the inner journey that comes with body prayers like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and indeed for me skating. An awareness of self and connection to the world grows over time as skating becomes meditative for me, when in a safe venue of course. That the smallest motion of my little toe can change my trajectory and impact, sometimes literally, the objects and life around me, reminds me of the connectedness and interconnectedness of all life.


In my most recent skate, I looked forward to more discovery, and the endorphins that comes from physical exercise, but I was turned back by rain. It reminded me of the times we are in. Where what we are looking forward, or are used to, to can often lead to disappointment when we are denied it and yet creativity in seeking alternatives.

Many of us have been disappointed to be separated from what we are used to, and what we looked forward to in this time of COVID-19. Everyone has been faced with a sense of disempowerment as the Coronavirus has forced us all from work, family, and community. We are a people removed from the temple – our spiritual home – unable to embrace one another or our neighbours in worship and programs in-person as the ways we are used to no longer work in ways that are safe. Funding has been impacted by the loss of rentals, outdoor and indoor services, as well as joint summer worship has all been put in doubt. We miss being with our church community.

We have been reminded how connected we are on a global scale.


The Black Lives Matter movement has reminded us in other ways that all the world is connected and that our smallest actions have an impact on the people and world around us. Many of us have come to the realisation that our trajectory has been impacting others negatively for too long. We are challenged to find new ways as the ways we were used to don’t work for a people of peace and love.


And yet, there comes the creativity. You know what I did when it rained, and I had to walk home. I enjoyed the walk, smelled the rain on the soil and felt the cool breeze – then I hit the exercycle. COVID-19 has call for us to change our safety protocols for any in-person activity and brought new and exciting ways of worship, programming, and activities online. Confronting the racism and inequality in our society and how many of us have been complicit in it without meaning to be has called for us to be creative in finding new ways to understand one another and to call for justice and inclusion.


Merging Waters has shown in these times to be a people prepared to respond honestly in our feelings, our passion, and our compassion to explore new ways. To support one another in confronting issues that make the world unsafe for us and for others, and to find ways to be loving. We have not shied away from hard questions but responded prayerfully and thoughtfully as a people of love and peace. Seeking out new ways to be church in the everchanging challenge of COVID-19 and calling upon our courage and our care to ask ourselves hard questions about inclusion and the dignity and rights of all of our neighbours. 


I know that the Spirit of the Holy One will be with us as we continue to work to be honest and supportive with one another. Acknowledging our challenges and accepting that there will be set backs at times. We will find support in one another and in our Spiritual Center within the Divine as a people of faith, hope, and love. I am so please and honoured to continue our shared journey as we seek out new and creative ways to live as a community of faith. With the gifts that we share of love, care, intelligence, social and environmental awareness, and technical capacity, following the loving example of Jesus, and hearing the song of the Spirit in our hearts, I believe that we can successfully find faithful ways forward into the future.


Blessings of peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Dear Friends in Merging Waters,                                                                                                           June 23rd, 2020

 

While our minister Ryan enjoys a second week away from his usual routine, many members of our community are giving of themselves to keep our life and work moving along, including worship and pastoral care. Thanks to all.

For this week’s message, we hear the reflections and the questions raised by Jeremy Lewis, well known to many of us as a talented actor, bringing life to spoken word in many of our Road Shows and cabarets, as Jan Langelier’s grandson, and who is also a man of both Black and white ancestry who joined recent demonstrations in Montreal protesting against racism. Thank you, Jeremy, for sharing your powerful words.

 

Christine Bryce, Spiritual Formation

 

Jeremy Lewis On Racism

Here's my thing. If you are an "'All lives matter' is a sound response to 'black lives matter'" kind of person, and you go around drumming up that sort of rhetoric in comment sections, you'd better be ready to have a proper conversation.

If you're claiming to be the only logical person amidst a mass of people with views that aren't the same as yours, you should be able to listen to what people say. Not just so you can tear down their arguments, but so that you can see where they are coming from. Like a logical, level-headed person.

Everyone has their own perception of what's right and wrong. I don't think that listening to an opposing view, to gain a better understanding of where they are coming from, means that you are sacrificing your beliefs. Conversation, when done right, can only lead to gain on both sides.

I believe that we need a whole lot of talking and a whole lot of listening, all around. This is like one big group project, and group projects go to ruins when everyone thinks that their way is the only right way without communicating and finding what they right way is for everyone.

If you speak with hate, I will ask you why. I will question you. I will disagree with your hate, but that won't stop me from trying to understand why you hate. I will also call you out on illegitimate facts. I will propose alternate possible ways of thinking. I will share my opinion. And I expect any logical, level-headed person to grant me the same level of respect that I offer them, and try to understand where I am coming from.

We need to talk. I want to talk. I want to work on this together with you. I don't want to tell you how to live your life. However, I may have a couple of recommendations that you might not like at first, but trust me, they aren't going to take anything away from you. They are recommendations that can add positive change to your life at the same time as doing so for others. All you have to do is be willing to listen.

 

Michael Woytiuk has crafted a beautiful video: Black Lives Matter:                                                                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaoorojJCUo

 

We worship here together online:   www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online

 

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                    June 16th, 2020

 

This week’s worship will be led by the talented and creative music ministry of Merging Waters. A Musical Reflection For A Summer’s day, on the first day of Summer.

I will be on study leave from the 17th to the 30th but I wanted to leave us with some thoughts that are sparked by upcoming lectionary readings and our modern context. In the midst of re-openings, second waves, and history coming to a head in this world we are presented this week and next with readings from Jeremiah. A prophet who brought a message of resilience and faith to a people in exile. Evicted from the places that they called home and separated from the temple they were reminded that God is with them wherever they go. They were called upon to live full lives of faith and community in new ways and with new vision and hope.

The Ancient Israelites and the first century Jewish community all dealt with being exiled from the Temple. The place where they encountered the Holy One. And they found their faith alive in the world nonetheless.

Questions that we may ask ourselves are:

-       Where do we find God when we are outside of the walls of our temples?

-       Who are we outside of the hour from 10:30 – 11:30 am on a Sunday?

-       What does resilience and faith look like for a people exiled from our temples today?

-       Seeking safe ways to return?

-       Finding new ways to continue outside of buildings?

-       Cyberspace?

-       Inner and outer spiritual life?

-       Mission?

I look forward to returning refreshed and renewed in a couple of weeks, and to us all continuing this journey of faith together. With the Spirit of Love as our guide we will find the path.

 

We worship here together online:   www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online

 

Blessings of peace and hope.

Rev. Ryan Fea

MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                            June 10th, 2020


There are many important birthdays and anniversaries within the congregation this time of year. Today marks another important anniversary. June 10th 2020 is the 95th anniversary of the formation of the United Church of Canada. After a series of discussions, for decades, several different denominations joined to form the United Church of Canada in 1925. It was not a decision taken lightly, but after about 30 years of negotiation, reflections, prayer, and discussion over 600,000 people united to form this denomination. It was decided that not in mourning difference but in celebrating and living the diversity of all people that we find the beauty and strength of the United Church. Not in conforming but in celebrating the differences.

This anniversary brings to light questions we’ve all been facing in the shortcomings of our social structures that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light and these important times of confronting systemic racism within our society. We might ask ourselves:

-       With all of the possibilities of making something new that celebrates the gifts, uniqueness, and beauty of all people why do we fear change so much?

o   What or who is holding us back?

-       In a time that change can make us safer from a pandemic and respect the lives of marginalised people how can we not? How do we challenge that?

o   Where can our journey of faith help us?

-       How can we as a community of faith challenge, support, and encourage, ourselves, one another, leaders, and society to better celebrate the beauty of diversity rather than setting differences as a boundary or point of separation?

-       How can we physically distance for safety and yet reach out with compassion? The way we speak out? Spend? Vote? Pray? Live?

-       Where is The Divine in this discussion?

o   In the call to love one another? In the hope of peace to all the world?

o   In the call to live with respect in creation?

Looking forward to engaging these questions and more as we continue our journey together.


We worship here together online:   www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online


Blessings,

Rev. Ryan Fea

MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                                June 3rd, 2020


The events of recent days confront us in light of the readings that we have for this week. Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a where we hear that God said that creation works well in its structuring and Matthew 28:16-20 in which we are told that Jesus will be with us always in our commissioned work of offering belonging and inclusion of all people into the Body of Christ, those who follow the way of the message of love Jesus shared with everyone.

In the light of times wherein we are confronted by the reality of pain and suffering, of oppression and discrimination in this world we may feel called to ask ourselves some of the following questions:

-       If Jesus is with us unto the end of the age where are we seeing that presence?

o   Is Jesus present in actions that oppress or actions the free people?

o   Is God revealed in how we alienate or include others?

-       Are there actions that we can choose that reveal God’s presence, the love Jesus showed us in his actions?

-       If the system we live under is broken, even breaking God’s well-structured creation, if it does not reveal the love that God has taught us in Jesus, does it need to be changed?

-       What does it mean to refuse to change in a system that is broken? That exploits and oppresses, or alienates, all but the very wealthy and very healthy?

-       If change brings more dignity to all, protects the environment, and saves lives why are we so afraid of it?

o   What can we gain in a world where we love and share with all of our neighbours, protect the environment, and make life the important factor over profit?

-       Do we find comfort in the hope that comes from hearing that Jesus has never left us? God’s love is present with us and within us always.

Hard questions this week for a journey of faith that is not easy. Thankful for God’s ever-loving presence as we move forward together.

We worship here together online:   www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online


Blessings,

Rev. Ryan Fea

MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                                May 27th, 2020

As we look to this week’s readings, we come face to face with the risen Jesus, not yet confronted by Thomas, still on the same day as the disciples were led by Mary to the empty tomb. Jesus is suddenly among them, inside a locked room, where they are in fear. Jesus offers them peace, reassurance, support and a mission – to nurture and renew relationship with the Divine. The Spirit is to be their companion, the one to go with them as the Divine presence that Jesus had shown them in their time together.

John 20:19-23 provides the opportunity to ask ourselves many questions, a few of which are:

·         How did Jesus get in that locked room?

o   Was he already in there? In the hearts of the disciples?

·         Where have we see the Spirit at work in our communities?

o   In our lives?

o   In ourselves?

·         If the Day of Pentecost was the birth of the church is this year a rebirth?

o   Is it meant to be every year? Day? Moment?

·         How will we mourn what was past so we can celebrate what we are to become?

·         Will we let the Spirit support us in letting go of past ruptures of relationship and entering into a new relationship with God? Ourselves? The world? The church?

I look forward to the journey as we continue it this week along side our neighbours in a shared service with other United Churches from the West Island and NDG.

We worship here together online:   www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online


Blessings,

Rev. Ryan Fea

MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                                 May 13th, 2020


This week’s readings from Acts 17: 22-31 and John 14:15-21 remind us that even with Jesus physically distant from us that the Spirit of God is ever-present in our lives. Closer than we can see or touch with our bodily senses while present to us nonetheless in our faith and our actions. Revealing the Spirit to ourselves as much as to others in our living. In a time where we are all feeling a growing awareness that there is no going back to how things were - even if we wish we could, these passages present questions to us that both challenge and assure us:

●     Is the Spirit calling us to something new?

●     Are we being realistic if we think we can go about business as usual?

     ○     Where do we find God in times of change – even involuntary change?

     ○     What does that say of the new ways? The old ways? Our relationship with the Spirit?

●     Do we trust one another to journey together in this new context?

     ○     Do we trust the Divine to be present with us? Ourselves? One another?

●     Where do we find the Spirit at work in our midst?

     ○     In what is known? What is unknown?

     ○     How do we find out if we don't try new things?

●     How can we expect others to answer a call to new things if we won’t?


If not us, who? If not now, when?

Will we answer the call of the Spirit or our own will in how we move forwards?
Let's find out in how we journey together.

We worship here together online:   www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online


Blessings of discovery, courage, and wisdom,

Rev. Ryan Fea            MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                      May 6th, 2020

 

This week’s reading from the Good News of Jesus Christ according to John speaks of the relationship of humanity to God that is seen through Jesus.  In John 14:1-13 Jesus, at his pastoral best, points to his helping to show us that even if Jesus himself is not physically with us that he abides in God’s love, that the Divine love dwells in him, that he is with us always through this relationship we share.  This is because, as like Jesus, we abide in relationship with the Eternal One, who also abides in us.  The abiding relationship of Jesus with the Divine is meant to show us that we too are in relationship – and that in times of worry and separation this abiding connection is meant to bring comfort to our troubled hearts.

Let us reflect on this by asking ourselves some questions:

-        If the Divine abides within us can we feel it?

■  Can we show it to others?

-        How are we shown that God’s love abides with us in the world?

-        Jesus speaks of there being dwelling places within God’s home, what does
         that tell us about our welcome?

■  What welcome does this suggest for others?

-        What do the many places that the Eternal One has prepared for us to dwell
         together in a relationship of love tell us about diversity?

■  Diversity within Christianity?

■  Within other faith traditions?

■  Within all of humanity?

■  Within the world?

-        If God is in all things/beings and all things/beings are within God is it
         possible to be away from the Divine love?

■  When we are in times of trial and trouble can we be lifted up by God's abiding love that is revealed in relationships?

■  How is this love revealed through our family (given and chosen)?

·       How is this revealed through our church family?

Looking forward to exploring these questions and more as we continue our journey of faith together, particularly this week in our Mother’s Day service.

 

We worship here together online:   www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online

Blessings of peace and hope,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                      April 29th, 2020

"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly," says Jesus in John 10:10. Revealing that Jesus did not come to burden us with judgement and guilt, oppression or suffering, but to open the way for us to have life abundantly. This poetic, and freeing, statement could pose many questions for us in our faith journey:

● What does it mean to have abundant life?
    ○ Is it living any way we feel like or is it about living a life that gives life to all the world?
● Does living an abundant life free us from the religious, moral, or social judgements that others try to impose upon us?
     ○ What does that mean?
● What does having life abundant mean for how we treat others?
     ○ Are we too called to nurture abundant life for others? For nature? For the world?
● Freed from guilt and judgement are we called to free others from it as well?
     ○ Does this mean letting go of our guilt and shame?
     ○ Does it mean supporting others to let go of them too?
● What role does forgiving ourselves and others play in freeing us all to have abundant life?
● What role do defensiveness and other coping mechanisms play?
● How does respect for ourselves and others relate to having a life truly lived?
     ○ Does this mean not accepting the judgement pf others?
     ○ Do some have to let go of claiming the judgement of other upon themselves?
● What does a life lived abundantly look like?
     ○ How do we treat those around us while we live them?
● How is love expressed in abundantly life?
     ○ Love of self?
     ○ Love of other?
     ○ Love of the Divine?
     ○ Accepting that we are loved?

As we seek to follow the way to the abundant life that Jesus hoped for us and that God loves us throughout, I look forward to continuing the journey of discovery.

We worship here together online:   www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online

Blessings of peace and hope to you all,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                      April 22th, 2020


Cleopas and the unnamed disciple have met Jesus on the road to Emmaus in this week’s reading from Luke 24:13-27 . In their grief, these disciples don’t recognize Jesus at first but are made aware of him in a moment of hospitality. Jesus breaks bread with them, reminiscent of the eucharistic act he instituted at their Passover gathering, symbolic of his life being committed to giving all to show the world the path of love – reuniting humanity with the Divine and one another in a renewed relationship. A beautiful gift of radical welcome, relationship, and love.


The road to Emmaus is a journey of discovery and revelation that brings many questions for us today:

-       Where do we find Jesus when we are in grief and pain?

          ●  How can we find renewal in our relationship with the Divine?

-       Are we the unnamed disciple in this story?

          ●  Will we find Jesus in unexpected people, places, or events?

-       What does this story tell us about strangers?

          ●  Those we encounter and when we are a stranger to others?

-       How do we reveal humanity’s relationship with the divine in our hospitality to others?

-       When have we been surprised by the message of love that Jesus has for us?

          ●  When was it unexpected?

          ●  How can we find Jesus in our journey today?

          ●  What does Jesus tell us about sharing love with others?

-       What can we do to show radical welcome and surprising love in the world today?


Looking forward to continuing our journey of faith in worship and in our discussions, visits, and studies online in the coming days and weeks.


We worship here together online: 
                                                             www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online

Blessings of peace and hope to you all,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                       April 15th, 2020

This week’s reading about the questions asked by Thomas, (John 20:19-31) remind us of the importance of discernment to faith. Seeking a deeper understanding, of our relationships with one another and the Divine, that which is beyond and within, is part of our journey of faith. Belief, in the Gospel according to John, is a verb and not a noun - it is seen as a journey that sustains us and is active. In the process of questioning this passage also reminds us that Jesus, while pointing out that there are different experiences of faith, wishes us, something very important, peace.

Let us ask ourselves some questions about this passage and our faith – especially important at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic:

-       Where do we find the peace that Jesus wishes upon us?

  • ●  In times of strain and pressure how do we find peace?
  • ●  Is peace found in spiritual practices?

-       How do we see belief as a noun or a verb?

  • ●  How does our faith work for us?
  • ●  Is faith a journey? Participatory or receptive?
  • ●  Does our faith/belief have to be based on understandings that do not change in order to be considered valid? Valid to whom?
  • ●  How does faith grow within us?
  • ●  Is it something we are convinced of by factual evidence or is it something different?
  • ●  Can we be convinced in our faith journey by other types of experience than the five senses?

-       How do moral or social truths/norms influence our understanding of the Divine?

  • ●  How do they influence our relationship with the Divine?
  • ·         With one another?
  • ·         With the world?

-       Have you had a time that asking questions of your faith, yourself, others, society, the church, our community, Jesus, or God helped you to explore your personal journey?

  • ●  How have these impacted your sense of peace?
  • ·         During the time of questioning?
  • ·         Afterward?

Looking forward to continuing our journey of faith in worship and in our discussions, visits, and studies online in the coming days and weeks.


We will journey through Holy Week together to find Easter living and continue to ask our questions and seek to hear the Spirit calling us to new hope, new ways, and new life as we worship here together online: 
                                                             www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online

Blessings of peace and hope to you all,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                       April 8th, 2020

As we move through Holy Week the journey to Easter takes us through some challenging times theologically and emotionally.  Holy Week is often a difficult time for people of faith travelling the road to the Cross with Jesus in the study of our biblical narrative, and recent events of the COVID-19 pandemic have made this time particularly challenging. We move toward Easter seeking, in the darkness of the Biblical narrative and of our lives, the promise of new life and new ways.

The journey of struggle and pain, life and death, conflict and love, crucifixion, and resurrection that is Holy Week and Easter brings many questions for us in this context:

-        What are we struggling with at this time of troubles? As individuals? As a community?

-        What are we mourning?

                            ▪ Loss of physical proximity to others?

                            ▪Having to find new channels to connect with our wider community?

-        How can we grieve the loss of what we are used to?

-        What can help us to cope with the loss?

-        Where do we hear the voice of novelty and love in the universe calling to us  
         in these times?

                            ▪How are we reminded that we are not alone, held in God’s arms?

-        How can we find new life, the resurrection in these times?

                            ▪In online connections?

                            ▪In learning new ways to appreciate solitude?

                            ▪Maintaining regular participation in our spiritual practices?

                            ▪In quiet times with God?

                            ▪In reaching out even more than ever to support others?

-        What is the new life that we have found at this time?

                            ▪Can we share these new ways and insights with others to help them to find new life as well?

 

We will journey through Holy Week together to find Easter living and continue to ask our questions and seek to hear the Spirit calling us to new hope, new ways, and new life as we worship here together online: 
                                                             www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online

Blessings of peace and hope to you all,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                                April 1st, 2020



In this time of global pandemic, with many of us staying home to avoid the spread of COVID-19 while some have to stay home because they are ill or vulnerable, Lent has taken on a truly palpable feeling. We find we are grieving the loss of how we are used to living. Encountering what we neither expected nor wanted.


The people who lined the streets to greet Jesus in this week’s Palm Sunday story, the parade of Matthew 21:1-11, are soon silent. Dealing with a reality that they did not expect. They celebrated Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as a conquering king who would free them from their oppressors but this passage is of a parade before grief, celebration turns to fear, disappointment, and betrayal. Some hard questions come from this time and this passage:


- What did we expect for Lent and Easter to be like this year?
- Are we living this Lenten Journey as a time, out of time, that helps us to reflect? 
      ▪ How can we listen for God’s message for us in this time?

- Are we grieving the loss of old ways or are we holding out until things “go back to normal?”
- In grief how can we find solace in our faith?

      ▪ Where is the Divine presence in all of this?

- Were we expecting God, or Jesus, or our faith to be a triumphant King, a ruler with all the answers to save us?
- How can our spiritual practices help?

      ▪ How do our times of prayer, reflection, meditation, yoga, and study bring us through grief to new hope and new ways?

      ▪ Is the Divine found for us in these or other ways?

      ▪ In what ways can our relationships bring us sacred connectedness?

- How can we, having been nurtured and renewed in Spirit by worship and other spiritual disciplines, bring hope and healing
   to one another?

      ▪ Can we be the presence of the Divine caring for others? How?

      ▪ How can we connect with others to bring hope and healing to one another?


As we begin Holy week this Sunday let us gather in our online worship to ask these questions and seek healing and renewal together, to be the Divine presence for all.
Blessings of hope and peace,


We will continue to celebrate the promise of the journey through our online worship this Sunday at www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online/

Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            March 25th, 2020


As we journey through Lent, toward Easter, and are facing the physical distance that is due to the COVID-19 pandemic Ezekiel 37:1-14 has a message for us that holds promise in times of desolation and suffering. With the imagery of the fields of bones being awakened to new life through the blessings of relationship with God this passage can bring us many questions in troubled times:


      - How can we maintain our faith in times of stress?
                      ▪ How can our spiritual practices help us to deal with hardship?
      - What can we do as a community of faith to share our sense of peace and community with others?
      - Does participation in spiritual practices in good times equip us to maintain our faith in troubled times?
      - Do we feel the presence of the Spirit of love in hard times?
                      ▪ What events or times do we feel it most?
                      ▪ Do meditation, prayer, body prayers like yoga help us find the thin places where we are more aware of the Divine in our lives?
      - When has our faith helped us through times that we have felt afraid or hopeless in the past?  
                      ▪ How did we feel after those times had passed?
      - How can we celebrate our faith/spiritual life as a support for ourselves and others even in times of difficulty?
      - Where do we find the hope in God’s promise to be with us through hard times and find new life?

 

We will continue to celebrate the promise of the journey through our online worship this Sunday at www.mergingwaters.ca/Worship-online/

Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                           March 18th, 2020


The narrative of John 9:1-41 this week finds Jesus, the light of the world who came to bring enlightenment to all (John 1:9), sharing the vision that is gained in faith and the blindness that is bespoken in the abuse of authority. A person on the margins sees that Jesus is a way to connectedness with the Divine, while those who use their power to oppress others are unable to find relationship with God or the rest of creation.

Given the reality of our global context connectedness becomes a big question:


● With a global viral pandemic are we reminded of how connected we all truly are in this world?

● Are we in a time of global Sabbath with time set outside of normal life to reflect and connect with the Divine Spirit of Life?

● Do we see new ways to reveal God’s love in the world through the care that we show for one another?

● Can we see those in power show that they care more for people or power in how they react to the needs of the poorest and least favoured in times of crisis?

● What can we do to maintain our lives of faith, in actions of love, and spiritual practice in times where it is prudent to respect physical distance from one another?


Looking forward to finding new ways to see worship and community this Sunday in our online worship at 10:30am.


Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings all,                                                                                                                               March 14, 2020


While we have chosen to cancel regular worship this week and to postpone events that are scheduled at Merging Waters Pastoral Charge I would like to take a moment to remind us all that we are doing so not in fear but to care for ourselves and one another. We are often reminded in scripture to 'be not afraid' and it is not in fear that we dwell but in faith - faith that our community and our call continue when we are physically apart and we will weather times of trial and concern.

We act in joy and love for one another in proactive action to pre-empt an advancement of the COVID-19 virus. So, we make small sacrifices of prudence and patience because we believe in one another and we love one another. We believe that God is with us we are not alone, we have the gifts of initiative and wisdom, the courage of resilient spirits, and the peace that we share.


As members of a Christian faith community, we share Christ’s compassion within our communities of faith and the wider community by being well-prepared and well-informed. In doing so, we minimize the impact of this time of concern, including reducing the potential spread of disease and enable our communities to return to a sense of normalcy as soon as possible.


I am present for the Merging Waters Family and all the people of the area who seek support in these times. Please do not hesitate to contact me via email or by leaving a message on one of the church voicemails which will be checked regularly.


The cancellation/postponement of public gatherings and the physical distancing of our daily life are steps that needn't move us further apart in spirit. Continue to pray for one another in phone calls and at 10:30am Sundays from home. Keep an eye on our website for regular updates and opportunities for communal-distance prayer/worship.


Please continue to share information with others and keep lines of communication open. We trust in God, the Spirit of life, and the peace of way of the message of Jesus, to be with us and guide us through these times in faith, hope, and love.

Grace and peace,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv
ryanfea.mergingwaters@gmail.com
Union Church - 5144575819
Beaurepaire United - 5142509527

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                March 11th, 2020


In the narrative of this week’s reading John 4:5-42 Jesus surprises everyone in breaking social and religious norms by speaking with a woman, someone of another faith, and declaring God’s love as inclusive despite human social taboos or religious limitations. The interaction helps others to see an outcast as being worth listening to.

Let us ask ourselves some questions.

● Can we see beyond our own ideas of belonging to recognize that all belong in God’s love?

● Do we treat one another with the same inclusion as God’s love does?

● What can hold us back from respecting others as equal in God’s eyes and so deserving of our equal respect and consideration?

     ●  Do we let social conventions get in the way of knowing that all are needed?

     ●  Do religious differences impede our ability to respect the beliefs of others? Does God’s love stop at the walls of our church?

● Who needs God’s message of love and inclusion? The people who are most at peace and have their lives together? Or those who face challenges and troubles in life?

● Does the message of love and peace that Jesus shares with us speak most to those who are in the mainstream or those who are marginalized?

● How do we as a community, as people of faith, express our understanding of Divine love? By including those who are most approved of by society or those are on the margins what is ‘acceptable’ according to social standards?

● How are we asked to treat those of minority groups?

     ●  People of different social, sexual, or economic groups?

● How do we treat/interact with people with different national identities? Spiritual/religious beliefs? Political views?

● If God’s love includes all the world can we justify separating ourselves from anyone or anything?


I look forward to continuing to explore questions as a community in our Lenten journey this Sunday.


Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv

Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                March 4th, 2020


The Gospel according to John is known as a spiritual gospel the challenges us to avoid neutrality – often showing spirituality as contrary to physicality. In this week’s reading from John 3:1-17 we are asked to be born anew not as people who are earthly but spiritual. With its tendency of pitting one extreme against another it is likely that the Evangelist is trying to convince centrists to get off the fence and to commit to faithful action.
The reading says that even when we’ve reached maturity we are called to continue to be renewed by the message of hope and love that Jesus brings us.

 

● Who wants to change once they have already reached maturity?

● Are we being asked to grow spiritually?

● Are we being asked to find new hope and spiritual inspiration throughout our lives?

● Can we ever truly get to the point where we have nothing left to learn about ourselves? The world? The spiritual aspects of life? The universe we live in?

● How can we support one another when we find we are unable to get off the fence in our thoughts, beliefs, and actions?

● Is it easy to do?
      • Where is the compassion for it being hard to make hard decisions?
      • How much time do we need?
      • If we won’t make hard decisions should we support others to make them instead?
      • If we won’t make hard decisions will they be made for us?
● Can we be spiritual people if we neglect the physical?
● If we focus only on the physical do, we neglect the spiritual?

 

In reading the Gospels we read that Jesus spent a large part of his ministry and life living with and standing up for the poor and the oppressed – to the point that he was executed for disrupting the oppressive powers of the world.

● Is the salvation, or freedom, that Jesus tried to bring us that of freedom from oppression?
● Does that include religious or spiritual oppression?
● Does this call us to stand up against oppression in our modern world?

Looking forward to engaging this text together throughout our Lenten journey.

Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                             February 26th, 2020


The passage this week, Matthew 4:1-11, speaks of Jesus being tested in the desert after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. He’s starving and likely feeling very vulnerable so it’s the right time for him to be tempted by food, comfort, and security. This happens in the wilderness, which is frequently portrayed as a place for journeys of transition and discovery. Ancient texts such as the book of Exodus from the Bible, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and many more, portray the wilderness as a place of struggle with discovery and journey but also as oneness with nature – a place away from humanity where we can figure things out.


When we are in the wilderness, struggling on the journey, we too cross paths with temptations found within ourselves and others. And much like Jesus, who was struggling with his unique role, we must struggle with who we truly are and what that means for our choices. We are not asked to be Jesus but asked to be ourselves in our discovery and journey which means asking ourselves these and other questions:

 

• What is my relationship with God?
      • What does maintaining that relationship ask of me?
• How am I tempted in my life? Economically? Socially? Communally?
• Jesus refuses to feed himself so as to avoid disturbing creation, turns down power and influence so to be subject to the will of God, would I do that?
      ▪ What does that ask of the church?
      ▪ What does that ask of me?

• Jesus returns from his hunger and goes forward to feed thousands of others, physically as well as spiritually.

      ▪ What does that ask of the church?
      ▪ What does that ask of me?

• Jesus refuses to have his own safety secured by his relationship with God – refuses to test God for his own comfort, yet suffers taunts and death to stand up for and to live with the poor and the oppressed.
      ▪ What does that ask of the church?
      ▪ What does that ask of me?

• Jesus refuses to use his position to control the world but offers the dream of God, the Kingdom (and KIN-dom) of God to all people.
      ▪ What does that ask of the church?
      ▪ What does that ask of me?


Looking forward to travelling the road of discovery and questioning together this Lent.

 

Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                             February 19th, 2020

 

This week ends Epiphany, when we explore the revelation of God incarnate - Jesus coming into our lives. Next week we will enjoy our Shrove Tuesday Pancakes and begin our Lenten journey to the Cross on Ash Wednesday. In the reading this Sunday we find that Lent is bookended with two images of Jesus upon a mountain. This week in Matthew 17:1-9 we see Jesus high atop the mountain, glorified, with light pouring out of him, and a voice calling out of the clouds that he is the beloved son of God whom we should emulate. Then at the end of Lent, Good Friday, we see a different Jesus put to death on Mount Golgotha. Within the Matthean crucifixion narrative (Matthew 27:32-56) we read of Jesus – humiliated, feeling forsaken by God, abandoned by his followers (except the women), and crucified for telling truth to power and calling for justice whilst standing and living with the poor and the oppressed.

 

Looking at this juxtaposition we have some questions to ask ourselves:

 

● Do we have a favourite way to see Jesus?

       ● Can we separate them?

● Is Jesus telling the Disciples not to speak of his Transfiguration – his glorification – until after his resurrection a bit of a spoiler alert situation?

       ● Do we see how the one is related to the other?

       ● Is the way he lived glorified by the way he died?

● Is the resurrection the only aspect of Jesus’ life that brings him glory? And us enlightenment?

● What aspects of his life are we meant to emulate?

       ● Do we need to stand resolute to what we believe?

       ● Does that have to mean suffering or is it about authenticity to our beliefs no matter how the world responds?

       ● Does it mean giving everything to live out our relationship with God?

       ● Do we draw lines at some point?

 

The journey continues in questioning, faithful worship, and our life in community this Sunday. Looking forward to it.

 

Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                    Feb 12th, 2020


In the lectionary reading 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 asks us many questions about who we are and to whom we belong.
This passage acknowledges that we can be challenged as we mature in our faith and that we can be distracted by the mundane details of the world. We wouldn't hear about it if it wasn’t something that happens - as we are human we grow and mature in life, in knowledge, in relationships, and in faith.


Knowing that 1 Corinthians is Paul's correspondence with a community that feels torn between who is more important, a question of identity, and speaks of growth in belief. I feel inspired to ask myself these questions that I hope we will all reflect upon:


● Are we expected to start out with the same spiritual understandings we end up with?

      • Is there anything else in life from education, sport, or relationships in which we are not to expected to grow?
● Is it a failure to need to mature in our understanding of God or is that the nature of a living an authentic faith?
● What's worse; feeling we have a lot more still to learn about our relationship with the Divine/that which is beyond and within or thinking we have nothing more to learn in our faith?


As a fellow traveller on the spiritual journey I look forward to continuing to engage and grow together in God this Sunday - and beyond.


Looking forward seeking the challenge and the comfort of these and other questions this Sunday.
Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                              February 5th, 2020

 

Last week we talked about Micah (6:1-8) and Matthew (5:1-12) calling us to be aware of the need for radical love and suggesting some perspectives on how that is lived out. This week we hear from Isaiah 58:6-10 and Matthew 5:13-20 who speak of how we can shine light in the world and stay authentic to our faith. While Isaiah gives concrete examples of what we can do, free the oppressed and care for the poor, Matthew uses the metaphors of being salt and light to speak of authentic expressions of faith. We often focus on the flavour that is brought to life through our loving actions, driven by our relationship with the Divine, and the light that we need to shine in the world.

 

Some questions we can ask ourselves about this are:

 

Are we aware of how we are one with the marginalised, oppressed, and poor?

Do we see those spoken about as us or as some other group?

If we are one then how can we help these people to whom we belong to overcome injustice and poverty?

If we are not one with those who need freed from oppression are we one with the oppressors?

Is there another option?

How do we maintain the authenticity of our faith in a society that tells us that small differences make us a separate group, culture, people, or even race?

Are these differences an illusion in the light of what we hear from Isaiah and Matthew?

Is the Divine asking that we stay separate from other people and creation?

If so how can we stand in solidarity with our neighbours?

If not then how can we express our solidarity as one?

Is the Good News that God walks with us, that we are not alone, as we seek to find answers through reflection and action?

What can we do to celebrate that our faith calls, draws and inspires us, to be one with the world: freeing, loving, and caring for all?

 

Looking forward seeking the challenge and the comfort of these and other questions this Sunday.

 

Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                              January 29th, 2020


This week’s readings from Micah (6:6-8) and Matthew (5:13-20) remind us that living an authentic faith has always been challenging. Micah and Matthew, each in their own way and context, state unambiguously that those who wish to live a life in line with the Divine will need to live a life of justice that is actually just and commit to act steadfastly with loving-kindness. A life of faith in just and loving actions not only for us but for all those whom society, and even we in our human limitations, see as outcasts or undeserving reveals God’s presence. This takes honesty, humility, and let’s be honest – courage.

So, if what is required of us is to do justice, love kindness, and walk intentionally a life that recognizes the presence of the Lover of All the Universe in our lives then we have to ask ourselves some questions:


   ● Do I believe that God’s nature (the nature of the Divine) is that of steadfast-loving-kindness?

          ● If not then what is the nature of God?

          ● If so, do my actions show justice, loving-kindness, and faith in the   

                                 will of the Spirit?

   ● When I show love/kindness is it to all people or the ones I like or feel most comfortable with? Is it mainly to people who       resemble me?

   ● Do I go out of my way to show loving-kindness to strangers or enemies?

         ● If that is hard why am I supposed to do it?

   ● What is important about being radically loving?

   ● In a culture that rewards assertive people who are willing to step over others for financial, political, and material gain what would be the value in being meek?

   ● Am I willing to be persecuted, by governments, neighbours, or media institutions because I believe?

   ● How does the triumphal language that is sometimes used in churches line up with God being pro-meek and calling         
   peacemakers God’s children?

   ● What would I stand up for? What would I stand up against in order to show the world that I believe in God?


Looking forward to exploring these questions and others in our worship this week.

Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                            Jan 22nd, 2020


This week’s reading on the Baptism of Jesus, in Matthew 3: 13-17 is often used to ask us to reflect on our own Baptisms. Baptism being one of two Sacraments for the United Church. The importance of this isn’t because we are expected to be exactly like Jesus. Jesus had his own relationship with God and his own sense of call to faithful living. Within the United Church and our context with Baptism we acknowledge a belonging, both to the Body of Christ today Universal and a community of faith that is the Church  and witness to who Jesus was and our calling, being inspired or drawn, to fulfill his mission and ministry in the world.


We practice infant baptism in the United Church and as we grow, supported by a Baptised and Baptising community. Our faith – our relationship with the Divine - and understanding of how we live loving-actions grows too. It is about that growth that I would ask us all to reflect this week in asking ourselves these questions:


·         What was your relationship with the Spirit of Life when you were a child?

·         What is your understanding of what that Divine Spirit is?

o   How has this changed since you were a child?

·         What is your understanding today of how you are meant to live out your witness of Jesus and his ministry/mission?

o   How has that changed since you were Baptised?

·         How do you live out, show others, your call – your inspiration – to fulfill the mission of Jesus in the world today?

o   What words do you use and actions do you take?

·         What do you do to show others who/what you believe the Divine is?

·         How do we renew a commitment to our Baptism of who we are and to whom we belong?

o   Is renewal to return to something past or to recommit to the development of something relevant to today? What does it look like to others?


Thrilled to look at the renewal of our Baptism this Sunday in our morning worship.


Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                              January 15th, 2020


After the cancellation of services last week due to intense weather I am inspired by this week’s reading from Isaiah 49:1-7 wherein the author speaks to a people returning from exile told that they are liberated from their slavery and humiliation. They are a people who have called out to the Divine Mystery to free them to return to the way of life and faith that they knew before their exile and yet are told that things will be different. Where they saw failure, they are told by the Creator they will find justification. Where they seek to return to a faith and life for themselves to look inwardly for the source of life they are told that there will be a new way – a way of looking outward. Instead of being slaves to the powers of the world they will be empowered to take the Light of the Source of All Light to all the world. They are called, inspired and drawn, to a faith that speaks of justice, love and freedom for all people after a time that their faith and freedom were oppressed.


Some questions for engaging this topic for us today are:

-        When was a time that you felt that you were in exile?

-        Have you had a time of humiliation or loss where you felt that your efforts, perhaps in career, school, or faith didn’t amount to anything?

o   Are you in one of those times now?

o   Is the church?

-        What can it mean to be told that we are loved by the Creator even though we think we’ve failed?

-        What does is mean to be told that in our experiences, what we call failure, is a greater truth that can turn from humiliation to empowerment of all people?

-        Does the church have a past of inclusion or exclusion?

o   What does a future look like where it is not only a church for those inside its walls but a source of light and freedom for all people everywhere?


Looking forward to engaging these and other questions with you this Sunday in our Service of Worship and Communion.


Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                                             January  8th 2020

 

I hope that you had a very Happy New Year celebration!

 

I want to thank everyone for their lovely cards and Christmas gestures, Luke and I really
appreciated them. I would also like to express my gratitude for the gifts that were given to those
of us on the staff. A thoughtful and Spirit-filled donation in our names to a music ministry the benefits the
children of lower-income families in our city. What a wonderful blessing to bestow. It’s such a blessing for
me to serve a community that is giving and thoughtful.


As we approach this week’s service and the Baptism of Christ we are often asked to renew our Baptisms. I
have been asking myself what that means, as we see in Matthew’s story of Jesus being baptised (3:13-17) it
is a response to a call for repentance, turning from where one is or one’s mindset toward a new path to
God. He’s already been through all of the membership/belonging rites of Judaism at the time why this new
beginning? I am inspired to ask us all questions about what this means for us:

● If Baptism is a new beginning, belonging anew to the body of Christ, does renewing our Baptism
mean recommitting to staying the course or turning to new paths?
● How is God calling us to renew our Baptism?
● What do we think about this renewal?
● How we feel about it?
● What definitive actions will we take to enact this turning in renewal?
● Is it renewal if nothing changes?

Looking forward to celebrating in the sacraments this Sunday, in engaging the questions of renewed
Baptism and in encountering God in Communion.

Blessings,
Rev. Ryan Fea
MDiv


Greetings Merging Waters,                                                                                                                                                   April 17th 2019

 

As air warms, the sun rises higher each day, and the flowers push up out of the soil, I find the anticipation of Spring and Easter building. I, like many, have a hard time with staying in reflection of my challenges and shortcomings, as we are wont to do in Lent -those things that hold us all back from God - when there are so many song birds singing and the leaves are budding. But then nature is a great reminder of the journey we are on.  Coming from the cold and dark of winter, the world at rest, nascent with new life and new beginnings, the world springs (yes that was a pun) into new life. The cycle of the seasons is reflected in our journey through the Story.Looking at our challenges, fears, doubts, times we turned from one another or the world, or from God, helps us to understand ourselves and our lives better. Confronting them and engaging them, in loving community and in the knowledge of a loving-understanding God, frees us from shame, guilt, and other things that hold us back. Finding where the Christ is risen in our lives, where we are renewed, helps us to spring into joyous life. If the light shines more brightly from the dark place we do need to examine them, but we need not stay in the dark.

 

Sometimes I find myself asking questions about the dark, and while they don’t always come, I know that’s ok. At least I know it’s there. But the answers that do come are where I am freed from their oppression and able to move into the light. And I see God in it. Sometimes it’s as simple as remembering that seeking God, doubting of finding God, can be simpler than some deep awe-inspiring scene from a movie – the Hollywood idea of seeing God.

Finding God in the world is not always being struck off your horse like Paul but sometimes it’s seeing in a gentle stranger the presence of God. Someone who offers you a seat on the bus, or lets you know if you’ve dropped something at the market. A friend offering an ear, or just giving you a shout to see how you’re doing. Dedicated people doing the work of God through acts of justice, intentional discussion and planning, charity and sharing love.

Where do you see God offering you new life at this time? How will you show new life to others?

Looking forward to sharing in new life with you all as Holy Week turns to Easter.

 

Blessings,

Ryan Fea

MDiv