Hamilton is for Everyone

This past weekend was a stressful and difficult one for many. We saw the newly elected President of the United States Donald Trump put an immigration ban into action by creating and signing an executive order. We also saw a mass shooting take place at a mosque in Quebec City where six people who were praying were tragically killed during the attack.

It breaks my heart to think that a place of worship, a place where there should be respite, tranquility and peace is no longer a safe space or haven for people. To me that is an unnerving horrible thought. A place ot worship that for many is a place of sanctuary or a place of solace to spend time with God, no longer is.

Both of these events are very concerning to me and bring up a lot of questions and speculatiions. However, we must be careful of any conclusions we may come to and not buy into the hysteria.

Designed by The Jelly Brothers. Www.jellybrothers.com

Designed by The Jelly Brothers. Www.jellybrothers.com

Having said that it warms my heart to see the people of Hamilton come together. Last night hundreds of people gathered at City Hall in sub zero cold temperatures to show their solidarity with people not only of the Muslim faith but of all religions and races. I was deeply moved by the words spoken last night and was proud to be part of the rally.

There is also a new group on Facebook called Buddy Up Hamilton. It’s a group to help people who are uncomfortable getting around in Hamilton for reasons related to culture, religion, ethnicity, or some other identifying characteristic that makes them vulnerable. Volunteers show friendship by offering to accompany their neighbours.

I was also glad to see our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally take a stand on something. He stated that this was a terrorist attack and not “Canadian” and would not be tolerated or accepted. Hopefully this will bring the wider community together and unite us, despite our differences. I also hope those affected by the shooting in Quebec know that they are supported and have advocates.

Now onto Trump… who has said his executive order is not a Muslim ban which it fundamentally is. Rudy Guilliani who helped Trump come up with the executive order was on Fox News and admitted it was a Muslim ban they had to reword for legal reasons. Guilliani said they couldn’t outwardly say it was a Muslim ban as they had to work within the confines of the law. This was of course brought on because of Trumps belief that Muslim refugees and immigrants are terrorists. Sadly, many Americans feel the same way, as they did vote him into office. Well Mr. Trump, for the record 9 11 had nothing to do with refugees or immigrants living in the U.S. As a matter of fact none of the terrorist attacks that have taken place in th U.S. since then has involved the seven countries listed in your executive order.

If you ask me Trumps executive order is only going to add fuel to the terrorists fire. Terrorists are going to use this to say Americans really are against Muslims to gain more momentum and support, when many Americans do not feel this way as witnessed by all the protests taking place across the States. I think perhaps Trumps plan to protect Americans could potentially have the opposite effect.

Designed by The Jelly Brothers. Www.jellybrothers.com

Designed by The Jelly Brothers. Www.jellybrothers.com

Trumps ban is kind of reminiscent of the internment camps for Japanese Canadians during Wotld War 2. People were held against their will and imprisoned in the camps because of their heritage and ancestry to apparently “protect” Canadians and Canada. They were hard working innocent folks who were contributing members of their communities, who were then marginalized. Is history repeating itself?

I’m so glad local politicians here in Hamilton have spoken up and said fear and hate will not divide us, we won’t let that happen.



from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly

Give Up Lent Square copyLent Introduction
Teaching Segment Notes
by Susan Suzuki

February 7th, 2016

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” begins with “In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf”. It also happens to be a Sunday. The story follows a very hungry caterpillar’s journey as he eats his way through the story until he gets really fat, has a stomachache, climbs into his cocoon and prepares to die. The caterpillar is then brought back to life as a beautiful butterfly the following Sunday, which is similar to Jesus’ triumph on the cross.

There are many wonderful changes that happen to the caterpillar as he transforms into a butterfly in the story that stems from the sinful nature of being greedy and eating all that food. Kind of like how Jesus knew he had to give himself up on the cross for our evils to provide us with salvation.

Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter not including Sundays, beginning with Ash Wednesday. Some people may fast during Lent or give up a particular food or activity. Others will do something to add to their lives or do something that will bring them closer to God known as Almsgiving.

Holy Week commemorates the last week of Jesus’ life and is the last week of Lent.

So during Lent we are supposed to try and change and become more like Jesus and hopefully improve our relationship with God.

As Randy spoke of Jonah & Ninevah a couple of weeks ago, he asked you to wear your square of sack cloth as a reminder that we all need to repent and change our ways. A good reminder of what God is calling you to which was a great lead in to Lent.

Mark 1:12 – 15

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

The Butterfly in “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is a great symbol for Easter. It is also a way FullSizeRender-2to show how Jesus rose from the dead and the new life we have through him.

In the story the caterpillar spins a cocoon and goes inside of it to sleep, for some it may look like the caterpillar has died but inside the cocoon a beautiful change is happening. The caterpillar emerges after transforming into a butterfly. So, we see a gluttonous caterpillar change into a beautiful butterfly through Jesus’ dying and rising on Easter.

The butterfly is a great symbol of resurrection. Through the life cycle of the caterpillar to butterfly we can see that death is a change to a new kind of life and that during Lent we too can change ourselves.

The caterpillar had to give up his old life to begin his new life as a butterfly. The caterpillar did something like what Jesus did. Jesus died on the cross to come to a new risen life.

Death is not an end to life for the followers of Jesus but the start of a new life. So if you see a caterpillar or a butterfly remember we are supposed to change during Lent like “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.

During Lent, we should try to do things that show we love God. We should try to love others as Jesus did. During Lent we can do things for others (almsgiving) so that we can grow to be more like Jesus.

The different stages of the journey to becoming a butterfly can serve as a symbol for the process of spiritual growth during Lent. Lent is a journey. Like Jesus who used his time alone in the wilderness to find direction we can use our time in Lent to learn and grow. To become what God intends us to be.

Lent can be a great time to walk in the wilderness and journey with Jesus. What if, instead of giving something up that you love, you give up something that makes you feel bad? What if, instead of giving up Twitter or Facebook you use those tools to connect with people who make you feel like you have community? What if, instead of being hard on yourself for what you need to change, you focus on the things you do well and concentrate on doing them better? What if you got to know yourself and lived into resurrection?

Discussion Questions

  • How have you practiced lent in the past?
  • What do you think living into resurrection for lent could look like?
  • Is there something that brings you life that you could do even better over lent?