Minister's Message: The move is on!

If you see a U-Haul this Saturday on Highway 10 heading east, please honk! It is my rented moving truck. I have been surprised to have so many asking me which moving company I am going with. Moving company? Why? 
”I have sons,” I respond.

All the four Gospels record the story of Jesus’ unique transportation as he enters Jerusalem (read and compare Matthew 21: 1-11, 14-16, Mark 11: 1-11, Luke 19: 28-40, John 12: 12-19). For many, including his disciples, the expectation had been that Messiah would be like a military general who would defeat the Roman occupation army with sword and violence. Jesus surprises everyone when he asks the disciples to find a donkey and its colt. When both are brought to him he chooses to ride on the foal or colt. This unusual means of transportation says that he comes in humility bringing peace, not a sword. His disciples, the spectators and religious and political rulers are confused, they do not understand the meaning of the colt - and the die is cast. His enemies see him as a usurper of their power, a challenge to status quo and will seek his death.

Our means of transportation says something about who we are; I hope one day to be driving an electric car although I appreciate my energy efficient hybrid. My most recent purchase is a lightweight bike that I will ride in a resolution to choose healthier living habits. But more important than the means of travel is the destination of our lives, where we are heading and how we are living in the journey.

What I most admire about Jesus in his last weeks is that though the storm clouds are gathering he stays focused on ministry and on staying the course, to do the will of God. Jerusalem is where he will die.

It matters most on our journey that we do not get distracted from the essentials of living in right relationships, of seeking justice through our words and actions and doing God’s will which directs us to always live in the light. It matters how we face prejudice or speak out against xenophobia, homophobia or Islamophobia. It matters how we face adversity and choices relating to our later years and end of life. It takes courage to follow Jesus in how he lived and also how he died.

It matters how we stay strong when others don’t understand what our choices and decisions are all about. Living Jesus’ way brings negative comments from others that may distract us from the way forward. Stay the course in doing what is true.

I enjoy these words from a Lenten hymn.

Ride on, ride on, the time is right:
the roadside crowds scream with delight;
palm branches mark the pilgrim way
where beggars squat and children play.

Ride on, ride on, your critics wait,
intrigue and rumour circulate;
new lies abound in word and jest,
and truth becomes a suspect guest.

Ride on, ride on, though blind with tears,
though voiceless now and deaf to jeers.
Your path is clear, though few can tell
their garments pave the road to hell.

Ride on, ride on, God's love demands.
Justice and peace lie in your hands.
Evil and angel voices rhyme:
you are the man and this the time

(John L. Bell, VU 126)

We travel on our Lenten journey together as brothers and sisters! The move is on!

Rev. David

La célébration de Pâques à SouthWest


SouthWest vous invite:
Célébration de Pâques 2019

Mission du Sud-Ouest, 631, rue Melrose, Verdun

La célébration du VENDREDI SAINT
vendredi le 19 avril à 11 heures
suivi d’un repas léger

Église Unie du Sud-Ouest, 1445, rue Clémenceau, Verdun


CONCERT GOSPEL du Vendredi Saint
Stewart Burrows avec ses invités
Le 19 avril, à 19H. Souper à 18H.
Don suggéré de $20 pour les deux.


8H30: New Fire (devant l’église)

9H00: Petit déjeuner (sous-sol)

10H00 ALLÉLUIA: Célébration de Pâques

Chasse aux œufs! (suite à la célébration)

Prière du modérateur: Répondre au terrorisme par la paix de Dieu

Quarante-neuf personnes assassinées.
Plus de quarante autres blessées.
À Christchurch.
Lors du culte.
Pendant la prière.

Quarante-neuf personnes assassinées.
Plus de quarante autres blessées.
Pour une unique raison :
elles étaient musulmanes.

Quarante-neuf personnes assassinées.
Plus de quarante autres blessées.
Des centaines endeuillées de la perte d’un membre de la famille, d’un ami ou d’une amie.
Et des milliers d’autres encore plus effrayées
pour les personnes qu’elles aiment et pour elles-mêmes.

Quarante-neuf personnes assassinées.
Plus de quarante autres blessées.
Parce que la crainte s’est transformée en réquisitoire,
s’est changée en colère, s’est métamorphosée
en haine de suprématistes blancs.

L’heure est à la prière.
Et l’heure est à l’action.

L’heure est venue de nous lever, tous et toutes ensemble,
de riposter aux gestes de haine,
grands ou petits,
par des gestes d’amour;
de riposter aux gestes de haine,
partout où nous les rencontrons,
avec tout ce que nous avons et tout ce que nous sommes;
de répondre au terrorisme
par la paix de Dieu


Et quelle est ma prière pour ce jour?
Dieu… aide-nous à agir ainsi.

— En réponse aux attentats des mosquées de Nouvelle-Zélande en mars 2019, une prière du pasteur et modérateur Richard Bott, affichée initialement sur Facebook, qu’il nous invite à diffuser, comme toutes ses autres prières durant son mandat à titre de modérateur.

Moderator's Prayer: Counter Terror With God's Peace

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
In Christchurch.
At worship. 
At prayer.

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
For one reason:
because they were Muslim.

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
Hundreds grieving the death of family and friends.
Thousands even more afraid
for their loved ones and for themselves.

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
Because of fear, turned into rhetoric,
turned into anger, turned into
white supremacist hatred.

It is time to pray.
It is time to act.

It is time to stand, together,
to counter acts of hatred, 
large or small,
with acts of love;
to counter acts of hatred, 
wherever we encounter them,
with all that we have and all that we are;
to counter terror
with God's peace.


And my prayer, this day?
God... help us to do so.

—A prayer in response to the March 2019 New Zealand mosque attacks by the Right Rev. Richard Bott, originally posted on Facebook. Moderator Bott encourages the sharing of prayers he posts throughout his term.

Easter celebrations at SouthWest


SouthWest invites you:
2019 Easter Celebrations

SouthWest Mission, 631 Melrose St., Verdun

April 19, 11am service
followed by a light lunch

SouthWest United Church, 1445 Clémenceau St., Verdun

Stewart Burrows with invited guests
April 19, Dinner at 6PM, Concert at 7PM,
$20 suggested donation for both



8:30AM: New Fire (front lawn)

9:00AM: Resurrection Breakfast

10AM HALLELUJAH Easter service

Easter Egg Hunt! (following service)

United Church Condemns Mosque Attacks in New Zealand

The United Church of Canada strongly condemns the horrific attacks by a suspected White nationalist on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019. At least 49 people were killed and another 48 injured in this act of terrorism while Muslim worshippers were at Friday prayers.

The people of the United Church are deeply saddened and many are weeping alongside the families and friends of the people who were killed and injured. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes: “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:15–16a). People in the United Church are joining with people around the world in mourning the lives of the innocent victims lost in this abhorrent attack.

The United Church recognizes Islam as a religion of peace, mercy, justice, and compassion and has affirmed that the church wants to journey towards reconciliation, understanding, and cooperation with our Muslim neighbours. The church is deeply committed to working with Muslims and others for peace and justice for all humanity and to seeking ways to build right relationships among us.

Minister's Message: Emptiness and Fullness

I have been living in empty space at my new house and a box-filled space at the other: contrasting experiences in these days of significant personal and professional transition. These days I’m neither a Montrealer nor a Cowansvillian (is that even a word?) as I have a foot in two very distinctive worlds of city and country. What I’m noticing these days are the sounds that are different in the empty space - echoes reverberating through the rooms - and the way shadow and light dance on the walls in rooms with no curtains on the windows.

In the story of the temptation of Jesus (read Matthew 4: 1-11, Mark 1: 1-12, Luke 4: 1-13) Jesus lived for 40 days in a very different space: a desert.


No human traffic.

Broad, wide space, uncurtained, sand for a bed and a rock for a pillow.

In that ‘emptiness’ he hears different sounds, one of which would be the Voice of the One who said at his baptism: this is my beloved Son. He is listening in silence and stillness for a word that will root him in a sustaining courage for the three year journey and ministry that lie ahead.

The tempter tries to unsettle Jesus, to distract him from God’s presence and call. As Jesus fasts and prays, the first temptation is to fill his stomach by turning rocks into bread and use God’s gift and power for his personal needs. He refuses and instead speaks of a bread for the soul that will deeply satisfy the spirit. He resists the temptation to fill his empty stomach and lets his spirit be the boss over his physical hunger.

On this Lenten journey we are invited to live with emptiness and feel hunger, that starts with hunger of stomach and moves deeper to hunger of our spirits.

I do not want to feel hunger and do all that I can to avoid it: nuts in the glove compartment, snacks easily accessible, fruit bowl filled. How can one go without food? Of course, if you never feel hunger you miss the incredible joy of a freshly cooked meal or garden herbs whose taste is amplified by your need.

When you know hunger your taste buds appreciate the meal so much more.

I resist emptiness and would easily go back to the sure and familiar place where I lived for 23 years. Everything had its place, it accommodated my needs. Yet as I listen, and live into the transition, I know that God is leading us to new places of learning and wonder. I know that God gives all of us strength, focus and courage.

In these times of instant gratification, of over-consumption and consumerism, the Lenten journey cries out: stop, feel your hunger, listen to your spirit and inner needs. Live in places of emptiness with trust that God is with you.

A blessed Lent.

Rev. David

A Lenten Hymn:

Jesus tempted in the desert,
                lonely, hungry, filled with dread:
“Use your power,” the tempter tells him;

                “turn these barren rocks to bread!”

“Not alone by bread,” he answers,
                “can the human heart be filled.

Only by the Word that calls us
                is our deepest hunger stilled!”

(Herman Stuempfle, 1990, VU 115, tune of Beach Spring)

Need Glasses?


As of this week, we have a new partner at the Mission: Philippe Rochette, also known as Bonhomme à lunettes. Philippe and his team of fellow opticians set up clinics in community organizations all over the city to help people who need glasses to get them at affordable prices. You must come with your prescription from an optometrist and they will fit you for glasses at rock bottom prices. But why don’t I let them tell you about what they do? The following is from their bilingual website. They will be at the Mission Thursdays from 1-3PM until at least June.


Le Bonhomme à lunettes, aka Philippe Rochette, is a nomadic optician working with community organizations in the Greater Montreal area and Montéregie with a great choice of affordable glasses with all the options, for men, women and kids. Honesty, simplicity and solidarity are the keys to understanding our philosophy. Possibility of $20 glasses for welfare recipients.


Glasses are not a luxury. Seeing clearly is a necessity. My mission is to make glasses affordable to everyone. How do I do that? It’s actually pretty simple. When you buy glasses from me, here’s what you are NOT paying for: head office space, a huge ad on a billboard along the highway, or a ‘prestigious’ name on the frame. You don’t pay for those things simply because I don’t have any of them. I trust word-of-mouth and the dynamism and loyalty of community organizers.

In Memoriam: Evelynne Ringland

The following obituary ran in the Gazette this week. Please note the celebration of Evelynne’s life will be held at SouthWest United at 1PM Saturday, March 16th. Our deepest condolences to family and friends.

RINGLAND, Evelynne Joan 
It is with profound sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of Evelynne at St. Mary's Hospital on March 6. Evelynne was predeceased by her parents James and Elizabeth Ringland, her sister Mae and brothers-in-law Benny Cameron and Desi Grieve, and her nieces Elaine and Lianne. She is survived by her sister Anne, brothers Jim (Mary) and Tom (Ruth) and by nieces and nephews. Visitation will be at SouthWest United Church, 1445 Clemenceau, Crawford Park, Verdun on March 16, 2019, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. followed by the service.