Sharing Celebrations and Concerns.
It is a simple little line in our Bulletin every week. And yet it is, in my opinion, one of the most important things we do. We take time to name our celebrations and our concerns, to share them with each other. It is part of what makes us a community, part of what ties us in to the larger communities around us.
It also occurs to me as I sit down to write this year's Annual Report (always a challenge – what am I going to say differently THIS year that other folk have not already talked about) that sharing celebrations and concerns is a good thing to do as we look back at one year and forward to another.
First, some celebrations.
Well let us start with the obvious. Our Sanctuary was home to 3 weddings (plus the one I performed in the playground at St. Patrick's School) in 2013. I was privileged to baptize 9 people (8 in Sunday worship and 1 in the chapel at the hospital) over the year. And then there were also 15 times when folk gathered in this building, or in other buildings in our stead, to mark the end of a life. As a community of faith we mark the ages and stages of life together, giving thanks for the God who gives us life, celebrating what we have together.
What else do we have to celebrate this year? Well Ken Riley has done a good job at listing out what has happened over the last year. I won't repeat what he has said. But I will add. Our ongoing care for each other is something to celebrate. Our ongoing shared worship and music is something to celebrate. We have a LOT to celebrate. I'll name a couple of others in a moment (my 4th year Education prof always said you start and end with positives).
Because there are concerns. There are always concerns.
Actually, the more I thought about it the more realized that the majority of the concerns I wanted to talk about in this report can be covered by two words. Mission and Stewardship. And even then my concern is heavily tempered with hope. You see I believe that this congregation has a strong feeling of what we are about. I know that this congregation is full of committed individuals who offer a LOT to our shared life and work. But still I have concerns.
We need more. Doug's report will tell you about our finances. But stewardship is more than money. We have committees that are doing amazing things but we also have committees that are struggling with too few members. (Then there are the committees or task groups I think we need to form...) If we are to live out our mission then we need to find more time for it. We have the skills, the energy, the time, the money to be a gift from God to Grande Prairie. But we need to put them to work. Mission and Stewardship. They are our way forward. And our Stewardship committee will have to get back to work to open opportunities for us all to share our gifts.
But remember, even (or especially) when we are asking for more time, talent, and treasure, remember that we are blessed. Twice I have heard that when the folks from the LLWL program visit with us they have commented on how blessed we are. They see our handbell and voice choirs, they see the 20-30 kids with us at Children's Time, they see signs of life in our midst and they comment how wonderful it is to see. This is cause for celebration. We are the People of God. God is with us. God is calling us forward. Thanks be to God.