“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27)
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Two verses (one we will hear on the Sunday of the Annual Congregational Meeting, the other one contains the sermon title for that morning) that speak to the task of following Christ. To be a follower of Christ is to be one who serves and loves your neighbours. As the “New Creed says: “We are called to be the Church...to love and serve others.”
The document you are holding is a snapshot of how this congregation has lived out this task over the past year. It does not tell the whole story – it would need to be much longer to do that – but it gives a taste. The picture painted by these reports makes one thing clear. To love and serve others is something that takes many hands. And so I need to say thank you.
Thank you to all of you for all you have done over the past year. Some have signed up on the Worship clipboard for those tasks that are part of our weekly gatherings. Some have served on various Ministry Teams. Some have planned special events. Some have been ready to help wherever needed, often with short notice. Most, if not all, of you have contributed money to meet our local expenses, money to our Local Outreach, money to Mission & Service. The financial portion of this report will tell you the number of dollars behind this work but it won’t tell you the full value behind all these gifts. Collectively you have contributed 1000’s of hours of time and labour to love and serve others. Thank You Thank You Thank You.
And now we are on the edge (well it is already February so I guess we are over the edge) of a new year. What will it hold? What are some of my hopes?
As with last year my hope is to get out of the office more. To be honest I did not get this done nearly as well as I hoped in 2017 and so I have to admit that I need help with this. I need invitations or requests and maybe even appointments for coffee. Give me a call and we can set something up.
Another hope is that we take time to explore what the needs of the community around us are, so that we can decide how (or if) we can respond to those needs. When I posted on Facebook about not knowing what to say in this year’s report Eunice Friesen (jokingly?) suggested “Let your congregation know that you are becoming a go-to pastor for the city! “. I really don’t think that is true, but it speaks to my hope that St. Paul’s continues to b a church known for responding to the community, there to serve the community.
And the last hope I share for this year is the hope I have every year. That as a community we we continue to grow deeper in our understanding of discipleship. I hope that we will ask what it means to follow Jesus, to live in God’s Way, to open ourselves to the holiness that surrounds and enfolds us. May God be with us all as we learn and grow, as we continue to love and serve.