eSpirit Jan 3 2016

Sunday is my last worship service at Beach United and my heart is filled with gratitude.

I am grateful for sharing part of my life journey with the saints of Beach United. I joined you when you were newly formed and figuring out relationships. I leave you as a strongly bonded community.

I am grateful for all the ups and downs of our spiritual lives. God’s spirit is best found in the messiness of life.

I am grateful for baptisms and funerals, births and deaths. Sharing intimate moments in our lives is a humbling, sacred privilege.

I am grateful for food, coffee, and community. Whether we share communion, coffee before and after worship, lunch at the Interfaith Lunch Program, or snacks at various meetings, Christ’s spirit is alive when we break bread together.

I am grateful for growing and learning with you all. God calls us to stretch our angel wings, sing our alleluias, and tell our good news of love and justice wherever we go.

I am grateful.


eSpirit Dec 6

A different kind of gift

We all have physical needs e.g. food, water, and shelter, but we also have spiritual needs. Howard Clinebell calls these spiritual hungers and suggests all people need to:

experience love – from others, self, and an ultimate source (God).

            explore beliefs that give meaning and hope in the midst of loss

            discover and develop their creativity      

            deepen their awareness of oneness with others, the natural world & God

During this season, demands can be many and stress can be high. Take a moment to reflect quietly on what you need this season. Try not to confuse your needs with your wants. What we want is not always what we need.

Another way to help us to reflect on what is important during this advent season leading up to Christmas, is to consider these words by an unknown writer:

Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

When you have finished reflecting, write your spiritual gift or your gift of gratitude on a card, decorate it if you feel so inclined, and hang it on your Christmas tree.

Advent blessings, Karen

eSpirit Nov 29

Advent is a sort of spiritual “waiting room.” The word “advent” comes from the Latin adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.” In our world today, waiting and watching are seen as unproductive.

What if we made space for waiting this Advent? We might find that waiting for God’s coming helps make it possible for us to wait more gracefully for other things in our lives—the traffic that threatens to make us late for an appointment or standing in line at the grocery store.

When we take the time to wait, we become aware of God’s presence. Stress, tension, and inner conflicts find a centering point in that holy presence, and life becomes fuller and deeper.

Going deeper into Advent waiting might also give us time to ponder and pray for specific places and situations in the world. You could be part of the Prayer Vigil for Climate Change Conference in Paris (November 29 – December 11). The focus of the vigil is to express gratitude for the gift of creation, to lament the devastation of the Earth, and to ask for boldness for those negotiating a new climate agreement.  You can sign up for an hour of prayer, and see who is praying at:

Advent blessings, Karen

eSpirit Nov 15

I have long valued the resources that are developed within the Christian community on the island of Iona in Scotland but didn’t really know how this community began. The original task was to rebuild the ruined monastery of Iona Abbey. You would have thought that the aim of rebuilding such a holy, ancient site was enough in of itself. But no, the main aim of the re-build was to serve as a sign of hope for the community in urban Scotland and beyond.

Iona continues to build hope using the foundational stones of prayer. This community brings together people from all around the world who are committed to acting, reflecting and praying for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

This Sunday, adults and children, will be creating a prayer wall. In the meantime I hope that this Iona prayer, will help you make your home a “house of prayer.”

Blessings, Karen

Let us pray. Come to our houses Jesus – – – to the table where we eat, the places where we argue and the rooms where we sleep or lie awake, wondering if our life is worthwhile. Come to our houses to broaden our hospitality to deepen our conversation and keep our souls company. Come so that we may be shaped by your love. Amen

eSpirit Nov 1

Hallowe’en turns ordinary children into ghouls and goblins. Transformed into fantasy characters, children play out an ancient practice of All Hallows Tide beginning with the evening or eve of All Saints and All Souls Day—Hallowe’en.

Scholars believe that All Hallows Tide Christianized a more ancient Celtic practice of Samhain, meaning “summer’s end.” At this time of year the threshold between life and death meet in a thin place. Spirits of long past saints and ancestors come closer to the living. Less benign spirits need to be scared off and sent back to the spirit world.

On Sunday, we will celebrate our saints and souls by remembering those who are not with us in body but continue to be with us in spirit. Bring photos or memorabilia for our “wall of remembering” and communion table. Our young people will learn about Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a traditional Mexican celebration of All Hallows Tide.

If you wish to get into the spirit of the season, you might make Soul Cakes or listen to musician Sting sing a modern rendition of an ancient Souling Song:

A soul! A soul! A soul-cake!
Please good Missis, a soul-cake!

An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,

any good thing to make us all merry.

One for Peter, two for Paul,

three for him who made us all

And don’t forget, we turn back our clocks on Saturday night.

Blessings, Abigail

eSpirit Oct 25

Brian, my best beloved, was explaining his thinking about needed car repairs. I was trying desperately to understand what he was saying about timing belts, cracked gas tanks, and oil pans. To let him know that I was listening I murmured, “I see. I see.” Then I thought, why do I say, “I see,” when I mean, “I understand?” Perhaps we see with our minds and hearts, as well as our eyes.

Our scripture text this week is the story of Bartimaeus, a man blind from birth. He experienced new eyesight through interaction with Jesus. Even if we don’t need healing for our eyes, we might need healing of our insights, intuitions, and spiritual vision. In what ways do we seek new sight? For instance, at Beach United we are discussing visual modifications to our building. At the session last Sunday, Ron Fitton reminded us of our BUC vision statements and priorities. In response, participants offered insights. In this process, how can we keep our eyes on God’s vision for a whole creation as we move forward in discussion about our building’s visual modifications?

As we reflect on different ways to “see” I offer these poetic words from Julia Mainwaring:

You think me blind, yet cannot see these colors, deep inside of me.

Perhaps I don’t perceive like you, yet in my head are many hues!
You tell me of deep starry nights, of how it sparks your hearts’ delight.
I understand, I see it all; my inner sight is not so small.

Many with the gift of sight, ignore the beauty of each single day.
They do not look. They turn away!

Blessings, Abigail

Please Note: Next Sunday, November 1, we will celebrate “All Saints Day.” Please bring in photographs or memorabilia of loved ones to create a “Wall of Remembering.” With song and prayer, let’s remember with love.

Also, if you feel inclined, you might want to make “Soul Cakes,” a traditional treat for All Saints Day. Check out a recipe:

eSpirit Oct 11

On Sunday, we will give thanks for all the riches in our lives, family, friends, community, satisfying work, joyful leisure activities, and so on.

In returning to work at Beach United I am deeply thankful for my 3 month sabbatical. Sabbatical is time for reading, research, and renewal. My sabbatical has been a gift of great measure. I was able to write a book as well as continue integrating my spirituality with expressive arts, particularly abstract acrylics.

My book is called, A Spirituality of Depression: A Workbook. It is available to the congregation as an email attachment, on a flash drive, or as a printed copy. You can look at an office copy on Sunday morning to decide if you wish to have a copy. Jane Dickson graciously took time to read the manuscript and says:

To me, it is amazing that a book about depression can be so uplifting. Far from evoking depression, this book creates optimism for life. This book is beautiful. It is wise yet simple. The conversational style of the language engages the reader and encourages fast and easy reading, even re-reading to practice an idea. The illustrations are perfection. Not only do they suit the text precisely, they are simple, serene and induce reflection resulting in a sense of calm peace.

Thank you to everyone at Beach United for a blessed time of sabbatical. My hear overflows with gratitude and thanksgiving.

Blessings, Abigail


Along with our newsletter Heartbeat, you will also see a document as preparation for the next ??? meeting on Sunday, Oct 18, following worship.

eSpirit May 24 2015

gratitude-Gerritsen copy






God is a big idea! Neuroscientists Mark Waldman & Andrew Newberg, tell us that grappling with “big ideas” is a great way to help our brains develop. So that is good news for many of us who are questioning, searching, and wondering about God! This Sunday we will be exploring the idea of God’s spirit being active in our lives – that is a huge idea. So our brains will have a wonderful opportunity to make new connections 🙂

I have just returned from my third and final month of sabbatical and one of the things I have been doing is dipping into some of the advances in neuroscience. It feels like my mind has stretched, my creative self has been popping with ideas and my spiritual self has been nurtured.

There is much to share about this special time; one that has been spirit-filled in so many ways. I’ll begin the process on Sunday during the time of reflection and introduce a resource I designed, which is in the form of postcards that express some of my experiences. The aim of the cards is to give short practices that help release stress and can be used to enhance our spiritual life.

My hope is that my experience and ideas will make connections to your life and resonate in some way. It seems to me that this is the way that the spirit moves, as life stories meld together to create something unexpected and love infused.

The poet Mary Oliver asks a wonderful, spirited question “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

We have much to explore and discover on this Pentecost Sunday

Blessings, Karen

eSpirit May 17 2015


We are resurrection people! Since Easter Sunday we’ve explored this way of living. We’ve learned about walking with God. We’ve reflected on the movement from broken hearts to hearts set on fire. We’ve seen Jesus through breaking bread together. And last Sunday we got into action. We blessed everything and everyone including over 1000 vests and over 100 blankets.

So how are y’all doing? I’d loved to hear your thoughts and experiences on being resurrection people. If you attend worship this Sunday you can share your thoughts. If you are away, perhaps you can send an email message. Let’s share the impact of resurrection living with one another. And of course, I’d love to hear how everyone did with my challenge to go out and bless everything!

This Sunday is our last Easter reflection because next Sunday is a celebration of Pentecost. So let’s go out on a limb. Let’s think ourselves right outside the box.

Jesus was trying to tell a new story because the old story wasn’t big enough for the world. Two thousand years later, that story is still new and untried. We have not expanded our consciousness into a larger way of living and being.

Over the years, many wise ones have lived that new story. Yet we are not ready as a global humanity to live that story. We are trying to stretch into that resurrection story. Like a caterpillar, some of us are still greedily munching milkweed. Some of us are in cocoons of denial. A few of us are just cracking out of the cocoon with a small vision of possibilities. And a rare few have emerged, dried wings, and taken flight. Let’s see if we can follow their lead.

To help us reflect once again on being resurrection people let’s dip into the book of Revelation, chapter 21 verses 1-6. Along with the writer John, let’s see a new heaven and a new earth.

Shalom, Abigail

eSpirit April 19 2015

Resurrection is a simple idea that we make too complicated. I see resurrection in yellow-headed crocus emerging from bare dirt. Planted in faith, unseen throughout the winter, they rise once again with no effort from us.

Resurrection is powerful. I see resurrection power in a dandelion pushing through a crack in concrete. Life emerges from human-created walkways. I see power in shoots cascading toward the sun from the old tree stump in our neighbourhood. Life emerges from decay in the form of new shoots, or fungi, bacteria, worms, and other miniature creatures.

All life on this planet, including humans is a resurrection of dead stars. Even the hemoglobin in our blood is a gift from the iron-rich explosion of star gases.

Resurrection is life and living energy—a simple concept. We make resurrection too complicated. We squeeze resurrection into a narrow concept of God resurrecting Jesus from the dead. Was Jesus resurrected? Yes. His living energy transformed into new energy for the earth. His teaching inspired and nurtured many people to see their relationship with God as life-giving. Even thousands of years later, we see, feel, and experience Jesus’ life in the lives of others.

We are the resurrection of dead stars and Jesus’s life and teaching. For the next few Sundays let’s explore how we see signs of resurrection in our living and being.

Shalom, Abigail