This past week for me has focused on gratitude.
It began with a request from the editors of a denominational newspaper to write about how the church has lived it’s mission while the building was closed.
That is such an important distinction. The building was closed. The church was alive and well and thriving.
The weekly letters sent by one member that contained her thoughts from the past week, and an activity like a word search to complete. Some of those activities generated a lot of discussion. Another activity was designed to bring us together for Father’s Day. We got a paper model car to colour, cut out, assemble and photograph. The photographs were then compiled on our facebook page as a “car rally”.
The congregation has an awesomely creative woman who creates banners to hang on the pulpit. Every week she brought a new one to the Sanctuary, photographed it and put it on the facebook page along with the links to the online worship service and video.
Members phoned each other regularly. What a delight to call someone and hear that others had already called.
The HOPE garden was planted, weeded and the harvest has begun. How blessed are we that we have amazing gardeners who work to bring the harvest into the storehouse in order to feed the poor. And I am certain that the Second Harvest Food Bank is grateful as well.
One of our web administrators figured out how to link the hymns to youtube songs so that we could sing along with other voices and even at home to “feel” like we are worshiping with the whole people of God. He has also been invaluable in figuring out how to make the video of the sermon work.
The church cleanup went over and above this year, removing overgrown bushes and painting the exterior doors an amazing Presbyterian Blue.
We are blessed to have so many talented, gifted and faithful people among us. Truly blessed. The building may have been closed, but we are fully alive.
That life has since been celebrated as we gather again for worship, but the efforts continue. What we have done during isolation has continued in our new normal. We recognize that we are not confined to a building, but sent forth into the world.
My gratitude swelled as I prepared the post-Canada Day worship service. I included a time to pray for our country as a litany giving thanks. As we gave thanks for each province and region we saw a photo display of the wonderful grandeur of our land. It might be the only road trip we take all summer, but it was a joyous link to the people and places we know across the country.
As I preached about God being the Lord of our land I talked about how grateful I am to live in Canada, where our health officers and political leaders have worked together wisely and well and we as a nation are seeing the flattening and downward curving of our illness numbers. At every step of the journey these past few months our governments have served us well, wisely, and compassionately. We are deeply grateful that God has blessed us in this way.
Finally we are grateful that we have been blessed in order to be a blessing. Today we had a special offering to help with the expenses of bringing a refugee family to our town. The generosity of the congregation has grown in this time. Every time we have taken a special offering in the “closed” phase it yielded more than we imagined. People have willingly worked at Food Bank Drives. Our offerings have remained stable.
As a congregation we know we are blessed and we are delighted to be a blessing in the community and the world.
This is why we are the church–building or no building. Thanks be to God.
WE ARE THE CHURCH
Wise God, loving and kind, generous and merciful
Every day we owe you thanks, for you have truly blessed us
Anoint now all that we do, the people we touch, the places we go that you may be known
Reach into our hearts to teach us how to share the blessing you have given us
Energize the labour we bring, that you may be glorified
Then, O God, fill us to overflowing with mercy, grace, peace and justiice
Heap your blessing upon us with a double measure
Encourage us to give the blessing away for we have more than we need
Call us forth from our buildings and our homes to be the Church
Hidden no longer behind our doors, but openly sharing your gifts
Unstintingly day after day, praising you by what we do and what we give
Remind us that we have been blessed in order to bless
Capture our hearts and our wills and direct them in your service
Holy God, now and forever, hear our Prayer. Amen.