Malmo News

Paying Attention

“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

– Mary Oliver, from her poem “Sometimes”

Lent is already a couple of weeks underway, but I’m going to suggest something for you to do during this season. I’m not going to suggest you give something up, though if you have, by all means carry on with it. But I want to suggest something to take up, something which will hopefully carry on through the rest of your life: pay attention.

We live in a world of distraction—cell phones, social media, Netflix binge watching, and the general hurriedness of life. Moments, minutes, hours, pass us by without us noticing, because we are in a preoccupied rush.

One writer says that “The present moment is the only moment we’ll ever have to live. It is here, and it will never come again.”** This writer notes additionally—and quite importantly—that God is found in the present moment, too.

In Genesis, after Jacob has the dream about the stairway to heaven, wakes up and says, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” (Gen. 28:16). Of course we know that God is always “in this place,” but so often we miss the present moment, the moment where God is, because of our busy, distracted lives.

So I invite you to deliberate attention this season. Mary Oliver, who is quoted at the beginning of this post, is a poet, and poets pay attention for a living. Perhaps I am calling us to be poets for a season.

Below are some suggestions for paying attention. They may require you to give some things up for a time. They will certainly require you to slow down, to add a little margin to your life, to not hurry from one thing to the next:

  • 5 minutes of undistracted silence and solitude every day (possibly first thing in the morning).
  • Step outside and take a deep breath, look around you, listen (maybe go for a walk): what do you see? hear? smell? What do you notice?
  • Pay attention to the world around you as you drive to town or to work or school, as you shop, as you wait in line. What do you notice—about the landscape, the people you encounter, the world around you.
  • Pay attention to the life of Jesus by reading a Gospel.

And then turn the things you notice into prayer.

And to help you with that, I will leave you with one of my favourite poems (it’s on my office door). It’s called “Praying”, by Mary Oliver.

Praying (Mary Oliver)***

It doesn’t have to be

the blue iris, it could be

weeds in a vacant lot, or a few

small stones; just

pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try

to make them elaborate, this isn’t

a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which

another voice may speak.


*”Sometimes” can be found in her collection of poems Red Bird or in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.
**Adele Calhoun, The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.
***”Praying” can be found in her collection of poems Thirst or in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.

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Weekly News….. March 22nd

“This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it.” ~Psalm 118:24

God has a sense of humour – I’m sure of it.  I read the above verse this week during a time where I had to do something that wasn’t much fun.  In the midst of my angst (& complaining), God led me to THAT particular Psalm and to THAT particular verse, gently reminding me that although I wasn’t having much fun in what I was doing, that today was STILL His day, and He made it for me to rejoice in – no matter the circumstances that I was in.  And that isn’t trite or flippant – it was a simple truth that I could either choose to accept or reject.  Well, I ended up chuckling and shaking my head – and agreeing that “Yes, God, EVEN today IS Your day and I choose to rejoice that you made it.”  God’s Word is true and it gives life when we choose to listen to His voice in the words that we read.  And I am so grateful for it.  

Hope you and your family can join us this Sunday — Sunday School classes for ALL ages at 9:45am and our Worship Service at 11:00am.

See you then!

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Weekly News….. March 15th

“…but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds.”
1 Corinthians 8:2 (MSG)

Even if I think I’m right…”a humble heart can help me more than my proud mind.”
Even if I think I’m justified in what I’m doing…”a humble heart can help me more than my proud mind.”
Even if I have to repeat the same thing 100 times over…”a humble heart can help me more than my proud mind.”
Because the end goal is to LOVE.  And it DOES matter HOW I get to that end goal.  Jesus treats me with such love and compassion in my failures…and He tells me to “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37). 

The C.E. Talks: “Hospitality and Special Diets” that was originally scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled.  We apologize if this causes you any inconvenience.

I am currently working on updating the paper version of the Church Directory.  If you have any changes to your contact information please let me know as soon as possible.  You can email any changes/additions to:

This Sunday we will have two special guests with us.  Pastor Jeff Gooderham from Faith Covenant Church in Breton, will be sharing God’s word with us during our morning worship service.  (Pastor Randall will be in Edmonton at the Evangelical Fellowship Church, as some of the Alberta pastors are participating in a pulpit exchange.) . Jon Drebert from Covenant Bay Bible Camp will also be with us for our Camp Giving Sunday.  We’re looking forward to hearing about what’s going on at camp – with both the lodge and as they plan for the upcoming Summer Camp season.  (If you’d like to financially support the camp, please make your cheques payable to ‘Covenant Bay’.  

It’s going to be a great morning.  I hope you can join us!  🙂

Sunday School 9:45am
Worship Service 11:00am

Take care,

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Weekly News….. March 1st

This Wednesday, March 6th begins the Lenten season – the six week period leading up to Easter Weekend.  (The actual length is 46 days, however 6 of these are Sundays which are not included in the traditional “lenten fast”.)  To help us engage in the Lenten season, our Canada Conference has once again published the “Lenten Reader  – a compilation of reflections on Scripture for the season of Lent from members of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada.”  The Reader is available online at: or you can pick up a printed copy on Sunday from the Malmo Info Table in the foyer.

I am currently working on updating the paper version of the Church Directory.  If you have any changes to your contact information please let me know as soon as possible.  You can email any changes/additions to:  If you are unsure of what information you currently have in the paper version of the directory, click here to see a copy.

Have a great weekend – and remember to use the front entrance as you come to church on Sunday – for easy access to the’Malmo Coffee Bar’, which is now located in the front entryway. 🙂

Sunday School 9:45am
Worship Service 11:00am

Take care,

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Weekly News….. February 22

Tomorrow morning (Saturday), from 10am to Noon, we have our “Loving Your Online Neighbour” seminar.  Join us for a conversation about what it looks like to obey Jesus’ command to love our neighbours in the digital age (on Facebook, website comments, etc.). How should we speak? What should we “share”? Is social media the place for indepth discussion or debate? What relevant wisdom does the Bible contribute?  Child care is provided.

On Saturday evening from 7 to 10pm, there is a Youth Social: Games & Fun Night at Matt & Jeramie-Lee’s home.  Dress for the weather and bring a snack to share.

On Sunday, may I encourage you to use the Church’s front doors?  Why you may ask?  Because the “Malmo Coffee Bar” has found a new home.  It is now located in the front entryway, as you come into the church.  We’ve done this for a couple of reasons…but the most important one is so that our visitors can see it and freely access the coffee and tea – in the ‘spirit of hospitality’ that we have here at Malmo.  For all you regular attenders…thank you for your patience and support, as we’ve been trying some new things and figuring ouy the best location for the Coffee Bar.  

So on Sunday, come in the main entrance doors, hang up your coats, pour yourself a coffee or tea and join us for a wonderful morning of teaching, worship and fellowship.  9:45am Sunday School. 11:00am Worship Service

Enjoy your weekend!

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Weekly News….. February 15

This Sunday is our ‘Canada Conference Giving Sunday’.  We thought we’d take some time to share about the church planting initiative that is going on in the Conference.  I didn’t realize that there are six church plants that are currently active!  God’s work is alive and moving through the Conference, right across our country.  It’s pretty exciting and I’m looking forward to sharing that with you on Sunday.  (If you’re looking to financially support the Conference with it’s Church Planting initiative, please make your cheques payable to ‘E.C.C.C.’, and we’ll forward those on to the Conference for you.)

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday – 9:45am for Sunday School and 11:00am for our Worship Service.  Help yourself to coffee or tea from our Coffee Bar in the Fellowship Room.

Have a great weekend and stay warm out there!


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Weekly News….. February 8

“Lord, I will give thanks to you with all my heart.
    I will tell about all the wonderful things you have done.”
Psalm 9:1 (NIRV)

What have I been challenged with this week? To be thankful in all things – even when my day doesn’t go as I expect or hope.  To count my blessings – not just the big things – but the hundreds of little things that are good in my day.  (Often which I just take for granted.)  To not just think about these blessings as a passing thought, but to write them down – every little one – and to speak them out loud as a praise of thanksgiving to God. It is such a simple thing to do, but what a difference it has made for me in not ‘getting stuck’ in the negative things of life this week.   It’s helped me to realign my focus on God, and to remember that He is the Creator and Giver of all good gifts.

“Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all.” (James 1:17 CEB)

It’s been a chilly week but the church is warm and the coffee is on.  Come join us on Sunday for our 9:45am Sunday School and 11:00am Worship Service.

See you then!

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Women in Church Leadership (helpful resource)

The Evangelical Covenant Church, the denomination Malmo belongs to, has been ordaining women (i.e., allowing them to be lead pastors) since the 1970s.

If you’re wondering why we believe that women can serve in all levels of leadership (perhaps you are new to our church) this short podcast episode is a helpful starting point to understanding why we believe what we do.

It doesn’t cover all the potentially relevant passages, but it’s a great starting point.

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Weekly News….. February 1

February is here…another month has quickly passed by.  The new month brings us back to the Lord’s Table, with the reminder that God accepts us right where we are.  He longs to have relationship with us and calls us back to the Table to remind us of the extravagant love that He has for each of us.  Come.  You’re invited.  How great is that?! 🙂

See you on Sunday at 9:45am for Sunday School and 11:00am for Worship Service.  

Take care!

P.S.  Have you checked out Malmo’s new ‘Coffee Bar’?  Located on the south side of the Fellowship Room.  Help yourself to coffee or tea.  

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Palms up, palms down prayer

During worship last Sunday, the children and the rest of the congregation was led through the “palms up, palms down” prayer. This is a prayer that anyone can do at any time.

Prayer is simply conversation with God—listening to and speaking with him. Sometimes it’s helpful to use our bodies when we pray to help us focus. This is not unusual: people lift their hands during worship, fold their hands and close their eyes during prayer, or perhaps kneel or lie prostrate when praying.

Palms up, palms down prayer is a way to help us focus on God by letting go of the things that distract us, worry us, frustrate us, anger us, and so on, and giving them to God, and to give us a posture to receive what God has for us. This is a prayer that seeks God, nothing more, nothing less. It is about being in his presence and trusting him.

It’s very simple—even a child can do it, as we saw on Sunday. Here’s how you can begin*:

  • Sit comfortably and take a deep breath.
  • Place your hands palms down on your legs.
  • Imagine letting whatever is distracting (worrying, frustrating, angering, etc.) you drop out of your hands. You could even give whatever it is to Jesus. Watch them drop out of your hands.
  • When you have let go of as much as you can, turn your palms up in a posture of receiving. Tell God that you want to receive whatever he has for you today. Remain in silence with God.
  • When your mind starts wandering, turn your hands palms down and let those distracting thoughts drop away.
  • When you are ready, turn your palms up again to receive in silence.
  • Do this as many times as you need to release the things that burden you and be with God.

*Source: Diana Shiflett, Spiritual Practices in Community: Drawing Groups into the Heart of God (IVP Books, 2018)

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