One of the goals in yesterday’s blog was to express the thankfulness Karen and I feel in our hearts for all the care I and my family have been receiving from so many people.
We Love the Church - We Love you!
If you have ever visited my study at the rectory, you will have seen a picture which was given to me by the youth of St. Albans Church in Badger’s Quay. It shows a quote from Victor Hugo :
"The greatest happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved “.
Hugo went on to say this-- “loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves."
I have always found Victor Hugo’s reflections to be very meaningful, but the one above has always been special to me. I remember when the children gave me the plaque, one of them said “See Revd. John, we do listen to your sermons!”
There were tears of joy from me in Church that morning......It is so wonderful to have your ministry affirmed!
It reminds me of another Hugo quote: "Joy's smile is much closer to tears than laughter."
How wonderful to Know (not just hope, or long for, or wonder after, or pray that maybe….) but to Know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are loved!
For me as a follower of Jesus, these words carry a lot of weight.
First of all , I believe them to be an accurate description of the goal Jesus has for us - That we Know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God loves us.
Secondly, these words remind each of us that we are called to do whatever we can , to love others in radical ways. (We call that “Authentic Community” at St. Martin’s- we are not perfect, but we are working on it for His sake!)
The old phrase “Christ has no hands but ours" should never be allowed to become a clique .
It is found in a prayer by St. Teresa of Avila:
You have no body on earth but ours,
No hands but ours, No feet but ours.
Ours are the eyes through which your compassion
Must look out on the world.
Ours are the feet by which you may still
Go about doing good.
Ours are the hands with which
You bless people now.
Bless our minds and bodies,
That we may be a blessing to others.
Another story of a sighting of grace in the Valley of the Shadow
Among the thanksgivings and blessings we have received, I have another little story to share with you.
Most of you know we have an older house in Glenwood. The house is over 60 years old, sits pretty much in the middle of town on a nice wooded lot. It has been used since my father died as a temporary residence for some of our children, nieces, and others needing a place to stay. We have offered it to folks and couples who need a place to get away. It serves as a quiet meeting place from time to time.
Relatively very few clergy have their own homes , and Clergy do not live in a “free house”! With the exception of a few clergy in the Diocese who receive housing allowances, we live in a parish rectory, and the provision of housing carries a value that we receive instead of stipend. We depend on savings over the years to make sure we can provide for shelter when the time comes to retire.
Our old house needed some serious renovations, so a few years ago, I took a deep breath, gathered my tools and began the work that is still in progress. First a rewiring job, A new roof, basement repairs, a new porch, new Windows and Siding. One thing led to another, and we began to strip out the old “Ten Test” on the walls. I discovered that the house was not insulated properly, so that became another item on the long list!We have recenty had a second rewiring completed so we could remove ann aging oil furnace and install electric heat.
I love doing my own work, and work for others as well. Given my mecanical and building background,it is great to be able to use the gifts God has given you!
To make a long story short, the house inside was “up in slings”. I had planned to use my holidays this year to reconnect the plumbing, get the kitchen and living rooms functional again, so we could enjoy the place once more.
I want to share with you as well, that when I began feeling unwell several months ago, my prayer to God was to help me get this work done, so that if something was seriously wrong with me, Karen would have a home to live in. Small and humble maybe, but a place to call home. I had managed to refit, plaster and paint the bathroom, install drywall in the kitchen and living room. A lot left to be done however, no cupboards up no appliances installed, plastering unfinished ,no water in the kitchen and so on. After my diagnoses, we simply had to put this work on the back burner.No Money,No energy, no time for this now. We placed it in the Lord's hands in the hope that I might get well enough someday....
Unknown to us, a small group of our friends had been making plans. They asked Karen for the house key to go have a look, and before they stopped, our kitchen renovation was almost complete! The plastering, painting, crown trim has been completed in the kitchen and living room, the cupboards and appliances have been installed in the kitchen, and we can use the house again as soon as the spring cleaning is done. There is still much to be done at the old house, but we have a renewed sense of love for the place. We love to be able to share the place with everyone,and I will have a place to go after the radiation therephy later this summer for a quiet time and recovery. That was our friend's goal.
Frustration and worry has been replaced by hope because of the gift of friendship in action. It is impossible (again I say) to express how thankful we are - but we are, for this gift, and for each and every day of love with our friends and family.
John Keble wrote a poem in 1867 entitled “Hues of the Rich Unfolding Morn in 1827. We sing some of the words in the Hymn : New Every Morning Is the Love these are two of my favourite verses from the hymn
If, on our daily course, our mind
Be set to hallow all we find,
New treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.
Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be,
As more of heaven in each we see;
Some softening gleam of love and prayer
Shall dawn on every cross and care.
Thanks be to God .