A year ago as you all entered 2014… I am sure you did so with a variety of emotions: sorrow, as you faced the loss of your beloved long time rector; fear, as you moved forward into the unknown; worry, would it work… this new part of the journey; anticipation, as you wondered just what God had in store for you as you got to know your interim.
Dealing with sorrow, fear, worry and anticipation …. Can be very difficult and draining especially when what we need most is TRUST.
The 17th Century Sufi Mystic Rumi, wrote of sorrow that, “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” (Rumi)
You entered 2014 knowing that some changes would be made simply because you had a new leader at the helm… That thought, I’m sure, weighed heavier on the minds of some than others…. but for all, there was a sense of sorrow over the loss of what had been. But, it seems to me, there has been some experience of the truth in these words of Rumi. That sorrow has prepared us all for some joy to enter in. And how did we get here? Well…you took one day at a time…Your parochial team worked hard, you all came together, along with Wayne, to keep the ship afloat and we all prayed and we all praised. There was a collective “we can do this”!
In his book “Brain Drain: The Breakthrough That Will Change Your Life”, Author Charles F. Glassman, writes: “Fear and anxiety many times indicates that we are moving in a positive direction, out of the safe confines of our comfort zone, and in the direction of our true purpose.”
Proverbs 16:3 says it best, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” So, today as we gather after the 10:30 service to look at the past year and make plans for our future together, we will be committing our work to God. As I walk around this place I am continually reminded of just how blessed I am to have been called here. Thanks to Gary Jenkinson, and our maintenance team (Sterling Tooke, Leighton Spicer, Paul and Benjamin Strang, Roger St Amour, Brian Schulz) who help him along the way, we have a building that is in good shape
Several times, in the short time I have been here, we have received the compliment, “What a lovely church you have.” What a warm and welcoming place this is. These compliments have been heartfelt and genuine. But I have to say that what makes this place so special is clearly illustrated in the children’s hand game, “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple… open those doors… It’s all about the people.” A people who truly understand the meaning of “generous Christian caring and hospitality”. A people transformed by the working of God in our common life and community.
So while we may be feeling some pangs of fear and anxiety I believe we are moving in a positive direction and we are going to continue to commit our work to God and we will experience firsthand the difference a group of committed Christians can make. Not only here at St John’s but in the wider community and yes even in the world. And we will all be gratified in the work accomplished by the contributions of many.
I love this quote of C. S. Lewis, “The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because God made us. God invented us. God invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”
Will we allow God to take us over? Will we whole-heartedly surrender this Parish of St. John’s to the authority of Jesus Christ? Think carefully before you answer…. Because if we do, we can be assured that Christ will want each of us to become a vital part of this ministry. He will want us to embrace the truth that there is nothing greater than the Kingdom of God…. there is no more significant cause than the work God does through us and through this church. If we allow God to take us over…. we give God authority over every part of us…. EVERY part of us… Our time…. Our talents…. And our money…..
It seems to me most parishes, not only this one, are good with time and talents…when it comes to our financial giving however, we sometimes fall short. So along with our other ministries here at St John’s our focus for 2015 will be to increase our financial giving. Most people tune out when the Rector brings up the subject of money…. Some people leave churches when the Council introduces a financial campaign. With that in mind we will still move in that direction over the next few months. It’s Biblical…. there are more promises in the Bible related to “giving” than any other subject.
No matter how generous our giving, we cannot out-give God. And it feels good to give generously. The happiest people in the world are the most giving people. I want that happiness for each of us….. I want us to grow in faith, to grow in love, to grow in sacrifice, to grow in commitment and character as we learn to give generously to God for the ministry of His Parish of St. John’s…. This is God’s parish
Author and Pastor Rick Warren says this on giving: “People can either give by reason or revelation. Giving by reason means this: I look at what I have, I figure out what’s reasonable and I commit that amount. It doesn’t take any faith to give by reason. I just figure out what I can afford to give. Giving by revelation means I determine my gift by praying, “Lord, what do you want to give… through me?” This requires faith. When you give by revelation, you’re committing an act of worship and saying, “How much am I willing to trust God?”
Sadly, the truth is this parish is in financial difficulty, however, I in no way see this as insurmountable. Although in an interim time where you should have been able “catch up” somewhat because you weren’t paying a full time stipend for your leader, things just seemed to flounder for a while. Thankfully through the hard work and ingenuity of Pat Olsen, along with all of your participation and support our finances have started to look somewhat better. However…and you know when I say this there is more to come!! We still have work to do.
I would like to thank the Wardens, Matt Granville, Lil Booth, Robin King and Catherine
Bennett…Gill Tucker for filling in as treasurer as well as the whole parochial team. They
have all undertaken much work on behalf of the congregation and merit everyone’s
appreciation. To all members of the Parish Council, who have been faithful in their
duties and deserve recognition for their devoted service, thank you. A special thank you
is extended to the Members of the our Altar Guild who care for the Lord’s Table in
preparation for every worship service and who undertake the cleaning and decorating of
our Nave and Chancel areas. We thank the Bazaar convenor Jill Shupe, Wendy Lyon for
her catered events, Catherine Bennett and her team for the Pancake Supper and garage
sale, Helen Christie for the fashion show and organizing the trip to Stratford…the craft
group (Muriel Hall, Joan Grimes, Noreen Spicer, and Helen Christie) for their contributions
to the bazaar, Kim Martignago and Catherine Bennett for our family ministry events,
Kim Martignago, Katie Rose, Matt Granville and Walt Cromwell for their work with our
youth, Stephanie Miller, Jodi Turcotte and others who work with our parish children who
are certainly blessings to our congregation, the hospitality coordinator Jackie
Notarfranco, and members of the Hospitality Teams for their time, talents and generous
financial donations which feed us each week, Sterling Tooke for our Holding Crosses,
Gloria Clayton for funeral receptions, Lynne Coull our volunteer screening coordinator,
Val Cockings who helps Kim in the office and calls everyone on the schedule every
week! all those who contribute their time and talents to the success of our bazaar and
other events, such as our special dinners; we continue to be known for our delicious, top
quality” meals and entertaining evenings, our Out of the Cold team headed up by Karen
James and Linda Knight, our breakfast team leader Eleanor Frost, Howard Anningson,
Duncan Lyon, Catherine Bennett and all who have looked after the pastoral needs for the
parish, our gardeners, Bernice Good, Gus and Diane Bradley, Leighton and Noreen
Spicer and Gary Jenkinson.
Thank you to Val Clark our very gifted musical leader and the choir who weekly share their melodious gifts and for that we are very grateful. Our Lay Readers Karen James, Catherine Bennett, and Walt Cromwell (who we are sorry to lose) … and we also need to thank those who serve as greeters, sides-persons, servers, chalice bearers, crucifers, counters and readers each Sunday. Thanks to our people who look after outreach…and remind us of our call to meet the needs of others in the wider community.
We also recognize the group who come to clean for us weekly. This groups Tuesday arrival brings scrubbing and vacuuming, and lots of smiles…keeping our church home in the condition to which we are accustomed. They along with Paul Strang do a fine job of keeping God’s house clean and welcoming.
This may sound like a long list of people to recognize, and it is, however there are still many ways you can volunteer here at St John’s. I often think of the saying “many hands make light work”. So if you feel called to any of the ministries mentioned or would like to talk to me about sharing your gifts please do not hesitate to come and see me.
The danger with naming names in thank yous is that someone will be left out. Many in the congregation work to the Glory of God as we tend to the ministry of God’s Church, in our care. There are those who pray regularly for this parish, your prayers are such an important part of all God calls us to, people who do hospital and home visits. I have tried desperately to thank everyone and if I have forgotten someone, please let me know so I can extend my personal thank you for their participation in the work of this Parish.
I’d like to close with a divine promise and a human challenge and I pray they will give us insight and fresh strength for the journey forward. First the promise, “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) May we go far in 2015.
And the challenge, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) May we meet that challenge head on as we move forward as the Anglican Parish of St. John’s. As we close the book on 2014 we can joyfully cry out, “We did it!”
I thank you for the honour of being your priest and pastor for a small part of 2014 and for your continued support of my ministry as we continue this exciting journey together.
Respectfully Submitted by:
The Reverend Canon Val Kerr+