Do you recognize the joy?

Years ago, on my first day at work in Dunsford United Church, Linda, the board chair handed me a list of eight names. “These people need visiting” she said. “See Jean first. Her husband died last year and she’s having rough time. You’ll like Jean. She’s a sweetheart.”

Starting in a new place is always difficult. I was grateful for the list. Pastoral care is such an important part of a minister’s work. About three that afternoon, I set down my pen and gathered up my purse. The sermon for Sunday is started, I thought. I’ll go see Jean now.

Jean lived just up the road from the church. When I rang the doorbell, a beautiful white haired woman in her early eighties greeted me with a big smile. “Come in. Come in.” she said. “I’m so glad to see you. To think that you’ve started with me. What a privilege.” With that, a precious friendship began.

Even though caregiving for the church or as a neighbour requires time and patience , it also can be a source of abundant learning and joy. Over my five years serving Dunsford United Church, and caring for Jean, she taught me an important lesson.

Every day, Jean misses Lawrence, her friend and lover of more than sixty years, and yet she is always ready to share her life with others. She believed that when grief threatens to consume you, turn your heart and mind to someone else who needs you. As you focus on giving to another, you will discover that healing has begun for you. Jean lived that wisdom.

Yes, I cared for Jean, and Jean cared for me. Her love and support carried me in my rough times. She has taught me to recognize the Joy and the Learning that comes when we step outside of ourselves.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

 

Do I Dare Make the Commitment?

The last few weeks I have been learning about the generosity and commitment that is the foundation of the village of Keene. Two nights in a row I attended meetings to plan for community events. Altogether, I met nearly twenty people giving of their time, energy and skill to make Keene a better place. Before we moved, my daughter had told me about all the wonderful family events in Keene. Of course, these events don’t just happen. Always, a crew of dedicated volunteers are working behind the scene for any community event.

Knowing and experiencing are two different things. These Keene volunteers were enjoying their work. Each one reported in with work accomplished or started. There were no complaints, weary groans or embarrassing silences as jobs were mentioned. I came home from those meetings grateful for the opportunity to participate.

One of those meetings involved our Keene United Church. Members are planning a variety night fundraiser for improvements to the local school playground. The chair said, “If we sell our 200 tickets at $10 each we’ll only raise $2000. They need $8000 to complete the project. What else can we do to raise the entire $8000?” Ideas surfaced. The choice was made.

These two committees illustrate an important principle in volunteering. Practice joyful giving, joyful commitment. If you’re serving on a committee let go of your fear of not enough time or enough energy. Climb on board with joy and laughter. Give God thanks for the opportunity to serve.

Operate from God’s principle of abundance.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)

Let’s Give Thanks for God’s Gift of Faith.

Let’s Give Thanks for God’s Gift of Faith

by Janet Stobie
Let's go to church together.
Let’s go to church together.

Sunday, we celebrate thanksgiving. This year I am particularly grateful that God has blessed me with the gift of faith and a husband who joins me in that faith.

Over the years in my role as pastor, I encountered many couples for whom only one lived a life of faith. When we’re young and in love, we think this difference won’t matter, but it does. As our lives unfold, this difference can become a thorn. When we are blessed with children, that faithful member wants the child baptized and brought to Sunday School. Teaching the faith without your partner’s help, even sometimes with your partner’s opposition, is a very lonely process.

When tough times come, faith offers the strength not only to survive, but to grow through the pain. The knowledge that God is with me, I am not alone has carried me through tragedy, and severe illness. I seek God’s wisdom when I have decisions to make. Having a partner walking this path with me is wonderful. Tom keeps me on track when my steps falter.

Tom and I enjoy participating in the work of our church family. Together we decide how much of our time, our energy and our resources will be given to our church. We carry the same faith message to our friends and our family. It’s wonderful to pull together as a team. As we age and our relationship deepens and grows, our faith has deepened and grown as well.

This week, when you count your blessings, give thanks for your faith. If that faith is shared with your partner, know that you have received a special blessing. If you don’t believe, give thanks for those who do.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2Timothy 1:5)