Rev. Moon’s message for September 18, 2022

Dear Friends,

I spent the last month of August resting and reflecting on what I had learned during my first year. There were many valuable lessons, but this particular lesson made me laugh.

Moving from a small rural town to a city meant downsizing for my family and me. I had to eliminate many things I had collected over the years. I had these two large desks in my home office. I used one for my computer and laptop and the other desk to work on books and files. Since we were moving from a house to a smaller apartment, I gave them away and replaced them with small desks. I tried everything to love those two smaller desks, but I just hated those desks. Something was not right. It took me a while to realize what the problem was. Yes, I moved from a spacious house to a smaller apartment, but my body did not shrink. My computer did not shrink, and my laptop and its monitor did not shrink. I can even argue that I am bigger today than a year ago. So what did I do? I went to Ikea and got a large desk. So now I have three desks in the apartment.

Desk, walnut, walnut veneer, rosewood knobs, brass, iron, steel, glass (1870–71); designed by American architect Frank Heyling Furness (1839–1912). from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo: Francis Helminski CC BY-SA 4.0 International. Full credit below.

So what did I learn from such human experience? That I need to move to a bigger place? No. I have learned that certain things don’t change, no matter wherever you go. Yes, you moved to a different congregation, but certain things don’t change. When I look back at my own life and ministry, God was so gracious to me. God was patient with me and showed me many wonders. Many times I did not know what to do or where to turn, but God showed me a new door after another to open. I don’t think God will change how God loves me and works with me simply because I moved to a different congregation. Sure I will face other tasks and challenges. Sure I need to make certain adjustments and changes in what I do. But God will continue to work with me, and God will continue to work with the people of God.

During the year, I have learned that the way people express the love of God for each other may differ from one place to another, but the desire of people to love God and to welcome everyone in the name of God is the same. I have experienced tremendous passion and love for God and the people of God from this beautiful faith community.

We don’t know what kind of challenges and blessings we will be facing tomorrow, but I firmly believe everything we experience in our human life will teach us one thing that does not change, the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, how much God loves us. One thing we cannot change is doing everything in the confidence of God’s grace and love. Things may not go the way we plan or want, but I am confident that everything we experience in this amazing community will help us to deepen our love for God and each other. May God bless our faith community and journey.

—Rev. Chuck Moon

Photo credit: “Desk, designed by Frank Furness, 1870-71, Philadelphia Museum of Art.jpg”. Francis Helminski. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Taken from the Wikimedia Commons.

A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, September 17, 2022, edition of Tidbits.

Rev. Moon’s message for September 11, 2022

Dear Friends,

In writing, we understand how important this small punctuational mark—the comma—is.

During the last five weeks, I worked on my comma. I did not realize how much I needed such a comma until I put it in my life. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically I was ready for rest and reflection. My comma included traveling with my immediate family, visiting my extended family in Korea, spending four days at a friend’s cottage, learning how to kayak, writing a diary, going to a bookstore, walking, and visiting different churches, restaurants, and cafés. I even had time to watch some Korean dramas on Netflix.

Thank you for your prayers and blessing me to spend time away from the ministry. And thank you for welcoming my family and me back to our wonderful church community and family.

– Rev. Chuck Moon

A version of this message first appeared in the Sunday, September 11, 2022, edition of Tidbits.

Rev. Moon’s message for September 4, 2022 – Virtual book club

We are starting a virtual book club starting Sunday, September 18, and will meet at 1 PM every third Sunday of the month. We would like to invite those who are interested in sharing their thoughts with each other. A Zoom link to the meeting will be posted later.

The book is Devotional Classics by Richard Foster, which has 52 small chapters on individuals like Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, Søren Kierkegaard, Annie Dillard, Thomas Merton, and John Calvin. The first chapter we will discuss together is on C.S. Lewis’s ‘Mere Christianity’. We hope to study a chapter each month, very easy and short reading.  In each meeting, we will be sharing, “What did I like about the chapter? What was my least favorite? Are there any lingering questions from the chapter you are still thinking about?”

The book is available for purchase at Chapters, Amazon, and other bookstores.

— Rev. Chuck Moon

A version of this message first appeared in the Sunday, September 4, 2022, edition of Tidbits.

Rev. Moon’s message for July 24, 2022

Dear Friends,

Henri Nouwen writes:

It is important to know when we should give attention and when we need attention. Often, we are inclined to give, give, and give without asking anything in return. We may think that this is a sign of generosity or even heroism. But it might be little more than a proud attitude that says, “I don’t need help from others. I only want to give.” When we keep giving without receiving, we burn out quickly. Only when we pay careful attention to our own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs can we be, and remain, joyful givers. There is a time to give and a time to receive. We need equal time for both if we want to live healthy lives.

“The Return of the Prodigal Son” (ca. 1668) by Rembrandt (1606–1669). From the collection of the Hermitage Museum; taken from the Wikimedia Commons. Henri Nouwen wrote a book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, based on the painting.

I will be taking a vacation between July 25–August 29. I hope that my vacation will allow my emotion, body, mind, and spirit to rest and relax. I have learned the hard way in my ministry that when I don’t look after myself well, everything else suffers as well, and it takes time for our emotions and mind to relax and recover. It usually takes two to three weeks for my mind to stop thinking about what I have to write next, and two to three weeks for my emotion to stop feeling the pressure of always being available for others. I find it takes time to let go and forgive myself for the things I could have done better or things that didn’t go well. Of course, I hope to spend time with my immediate family, visit my extended family, and deepen joy in my life.

In the early stage of ministry, I was hesitant and even afraid of taking a vacation. I wasn’t sure whether my pride, guilt, insecurity, or a little bit of everything made me feel uneasy about taking time for myself or spending time away from ministry. Probably my theology back then did not help, either. “How could I rest when God is working?”

I have learned to accept that I am one person, and I am not here to replace God or to produce the love of God but to celebrate the love of God we receive from God. Christ died on the cross so we could live, not for us to remain under the cross. There are still many days I struggle to take time for myself, but I am working on it. I am sure many of you are working on it as well.

I would like to ask for your prayers for my family and me during my time away.

—Rev. Chuck Moon

A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, July 23, 2022, edition of Tidbits.

Rev. Moon’s message for July 17, 2022

Dear Friends,

Someone once said, Technology is great… when it works. Our human technology can help us connect faster, more creatively, and more conveniently, but it can also bring challenges.

I am a Rogers customer, which means I had no working internet, phone, or cable on Friday, Saturday, and a part of Sunday. I could not help but ask, “If someone needs me, how do they connect with me?”

It made me realize how much we depend on technology to connect. How unsettling it is to be unable to communicate with others.

Once everything came to normal, I heard from two friends asking whether I had sent an email requesting an e-transfer for $1950! Of course, I did not send the emails; it was a scammer who had used my name. I felt very unsettled! It is not the technology but how people use it to take advantage of others that made me very disappointed and helpless. It reminds us how vulnerable our human life is.

The following day, this is what I read from the Bible. I found peace in it. I would like to believe the scripture found me.

Psalms 61 and 62 from the “Parma Psalter”. Taken from the Wikimedia Commons.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.
For God alone, my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.

Psalm 62

Once again, God has sustained me and strengthened me!

May God continue to sustain us and give us the strength we need this week.

—Rev. Chuck Moon

A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, July 16, 2022, edition of Tidbits.

Rev. Moon’s message for July 10, 2022

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday, we talked about the dust we collect in our hearts: the dust of meanness, disappointment, and darkness. We also talked about the importance of the ‘inner dusting’.  Referring to Luke 10:11: “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you.”

I shared some of the ways that helped me to feel lighter. One thing I forgot to mention was listening to a song or music.

A congregation member sang God On The Mountain by Tracy Gail Dartt, memorably performed by Lynda Randle. I felt that the song’s lyrics were the inner duster I needed that day.

Life Is Easy When You’re Up On The Mountain
And You’ve Got Peace Of Mind Like You’ve Never Known
But Things Change When You’re Down In The Valley

We Talk Of Faith When We’re Up On The Mountain
But Talk Comes So Easy When Life’s At Its Best
But In The Valley Of Trials And Temptations
That’s When Faith Is Really Put To The Test.

Words and music copyright © 1975 Gaviota Music, c/o Manna Music, Inc; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

I would love to hear from you. What are your inner dusters? How do you dust your hearts and spirits? Do you have a song that helps you to cleanse your soul? Please, share your story with us at minister@guildwoodchurch.ca.

—Rev. Chuck Moon

A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, July 9, 2022, edition of Tidbits.

Rev. Moon’s message for July 3, 2022

Dear Friends,

There are certain sermons I wish I could go back and rewrite.

This past Sunday (June 26, 2022), I was making a point that following Christ isn’t an easy thing to do (Luke 9:57–62):
57  As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
59  To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60  But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 
61  Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”
62  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

In the sermon, I said, “Following God is not like going on a well-paved highway, but more like going on a narrow sidewalk which is filled with many stones and rocks, wild animals, plants and trees, many ups and downs and many curves.”

“Highway 401” by Clashmaker. CC BY-SA 2.0. Full credit below.

The following Monday, I drove on Highway 401, a well-paved highway, to meet a friend in Guelph. As I was coming home, I got stuck in a traffic jam caused by an accident. I quickly realized I was wrong again.

I believe following God is a lot like going on Hwy 401. You never know what to expect. There is always a traffic jam or a collision somewhere on that highway. It will test your patience, kindness, and tolerance. In fact, I believe that there is no place where we don’t need God. Whether it is a well-paved highway or not, we need God and God’s grace!

Following God does not make our road ahead of us challenging. Following God helps us face a tough road ahead with humility and courage. Whatever route awaits us, may God give us courage, wisdom, and humility to embrace it.

—Rev. Chuck Moon

Photo credit: “Highway 401” by Clashmaker. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Taken from the Wikimedia Commons.

A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, July 3, 2022, edition of Tidbits.

Rev. Moon’s message for June 26, 2022

Dear Friends,

On Sunday, June 26, we would like to celebrate the faithful ministry that both Rev. Dr. Bob and Rev. Helen Smith offered our congregation as interim moderators. Due to the COVID restrictions, we briefly acknowledged their faithful ministry with us in October 2021. But we never had a chance to celebrate their time with us by sharing laughter and stories. Not to mention that there was no food! Like many of us who were unable to celebrate a significant birthday, anniversary, funeral, wedding, or party with our loved ones, we are grateful that we are starting to gather and celebrate together as a community with stories and laughter.

Headshot of the interim ministers of the church, the Revs H and B Smith
Revs Helen & Bob Smith

We are trying to celebrate the presence of God we experienced through them and each other during the challenging vacant years. We want to observe how God allowed us to work, pray, and grow as a church family. By celebrating, we would like to recognize the sacredness of our time together. It is also an opportunity to deepen our awareness and sense of gratitude in our human spirit.

I don’t know about you, but I feel I can do a far better job of allowing “thank you” to nurture my soul. Sometimes I am (and some of us are) so quick at exchanging words, “Thank you” and “You’re welcome”, but I think it is perfectly okay to hold onto our feeling and awareness of “Thank you” a bit longer and let it guide what we do and believe.

—Rev. Chuck Moon

A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, June 25, 2022, edition of Tidbits.

Rev. Moon’s message for June 19, 2022

Dear Friends,

Our special thanks to Al, Sue, Bob Milne, Corrie, two community volunteers, two Laurier students, and their family members for helping us with intense gardening on Tuesday, June 14!

“My trusty gardening gloves & secateurs which need a good clean by the look of them”. By shrinkin’violet. CC BY 2.0 Generic. Full attribution below.

Around 8 AM on the way to the church, I stopped at a hardware store. I was shopping for a pair of gardening gloves. I laughed at myself the whole time in the store because I gave away all my gardening tools (and gloves) when I moved to Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church. I was actually pleased to give them away. I lived in a manse that was surrounded by four gigantic maple trees and seven large flower beds. If there was one minor complaint I had with my previous congregation, it was that they did not say anything about gardening in their profile under the “Pastoral Skills and Interest Inventory” section. It should have been 1) Leading Worship and Preaching, 2) Crisis Visiting, and 3) Gardening. I shouldn’t go on about it since they probably have similar complaints about me.

I’ve always felt overwhelmed with gardening because I wasn’t good at it. “Am I doing the right thing?, Am I killing this plant by cutting too much?, When is the right time to do this and that”?   I just tried to imitate what my neighbours were doing.

But I never felt I was doing it right. Plus, if I have to choose between sitting down with a book or gardening, I will always choose the former. However, one thing gardening does help me with is to feel more grateful for what I did— after a day of gardening, writing a sermon suddenly feels a whole lot easier.

After 16 years of ministry, this is what I feel we should put into a congregation’s— the kind of skills that people seek from a minister:

  1. Ability to garden.
  2. Ability to get rid of a dead mouse or a flying bat without screaming or running away.
  3. Ability to preach within 14 minutes and 59 seconds.
  4. Ability to use the word “homologate” effectively in any meeting.
  5. Ability to finish a meeting within 1 hour and 59 minutes.
  6. Ability to brew a good pot of coffee.
  7. Ability to negotiate well at a yard sale.
  8. Ability to make the best pancake.
  9. Ability to bake a communion bread without burning it or being visited by firefighters.
  10. Ability to laugh at ourselves; and 
  11. Knowing when to stop writing.

—Rev. Chuck Moon

Photo credit: “My trusty gardening gloves & secateurs which need a good clean by the look of them”. By shrinkin’violet from Bristol, UK. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Taken from the Wikimedia Commons.

A version of this message first appeared in the Friday, June 17, 2022, edition of Tidbits.

Rev. Moon’s message for June 12, 2022

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank Bruce Morrison and all who organized, participated, donated, and represented our congregation to our local Guildwood community through the pancake breakfast. Many of you expressed the joy of serving and interacting with people from our local community, although some had mentioned that they would not go near pancakes for a while.

Unfortunately, I could not be at the pancake breakfast on Guildwood Day. It was not because I slept in that day. I had to officiate a graveside memorial and burial service for an elder from my previous congregation. Sometime in April, I received a call from the elder’s husband asking if I could help bury his wife on June 4 (actually, I received two requests: one fell on Guildwood Day, and the other was whenever I was available).  I asked for a few days to consider the request and discuss it with their interim moderator and my Session. I needed time because I could not simply say yes or no.

I struggled with the request. The elder and her husband became good friends over the past 15 years. I could not help but remember how they supported my family and me over those years. I felt I owed it to them. At the same time, I also wanted to be at the breakfast interacting with the community members. I felt responsible for serving my congregation today in Guildwood and creating a safe boundary with my previous congregations for their next minister and myself. But the fact they were without their minister, and the fact I journeyed with her when she was dying intensified my inner struggles. My mind, emotion, and heart were not on the same page.

I had a lengthy, frank conversation with the interim moderator about my struggles with the request. My conversation continued with Bruce, our Clerk of Session. Both showed their support and blessings in whatever I needed to do that day.

I needed time to pause, pray and process my struggles. When I sat down and closed my eyes to pray, I saw the smiling face of the deceased elder. I felt the Spirit was showing me where I needed to be on that Saturday. 

I learned a few things from this experience. First, saying goodbye is a long, chaotic, and untidy process. I wonder if I expected it to be simple, easy, and quick. My mind, emotion, and soul need time to process it. Second, people are far more supportive and understanding of my struggles. Third, God will guide each step we need to take each day. Even if I take a wrong step, I just need to take two steps back and start again with Jesus Christ.

I would like to thank Bruce, our faithful elders, and our loving church family for their prayers, patience, support, and understanding of me and my struggles during this transition year.

—Rev. Chuck Moon

A version of this message first appeared in the Friday, June 10, 2022, edition of Tidbits.