Thanksgiving 2017: A Letter to the Community

Thanksgiving 2017: A Letter to the Community

“The Fruits of the Kingdom”

Matthew 21:43

Friends,              

Walking around our parish, I am struck by the sheer beauty of the changing leaves and cool breezes of a world which is naturally singing God’s praises. The colours of fall remind me of all the traditions of the season. Warm spices, fresh baked pies, sweaters, good friends, and the joys of gearing up for the expectancy of the seasons ahead of us. In past generations this was a period of preparation within families and communities to face the cold and winter, gathering in the stock and abundance of the earth to sustain us until the thaw. Now that, for most of us, our harvest is found in market stalls and store shelves, how we give thanks tangibly has changed. Growing up, the church was decorated with gourds and corn and slowly as generations melted into each other those symbols morphed into tinned food for the food bank. This season continues to draw me into deeper awareness of my own thanksgivings and how I mark them in my life. Thanksgiving brings together the old and the new -gourds and tins, memories and experiences -  which ground and draw us into the mystical nature of a world that is transforming around us.

This fall we have great programing, from a concert partnership with Early Music Vancouver which will bring this institution into our parish for three concerts a year to an expanding vision with the Neighbourhood Ministry. We continue to deepen our own ministry through teaching sessions with our various guilds which enable our common life together, and most importantly are embarking on a year round commitment to robust and transformational Christian Education. Our programs this fall see the parish enter into life groups, intended for mutual support and community building. Some of us will knit items for the Neighbourhood Ministry, some of us will explore spirituality and discernment, some of us will study the Bible, some of us will look for God on the silver screen, some of us will gather with other families. All of which is supported in and through our baptismal vocations to encounter Christ in our world.

Our main Christian Education program this year will be Pilgrim, a course designed to enable us to share what we have in Jesus with the world around us, as we dig deeply into our traditions. We are a parish brimming with abundance, transformed through the power of the Risen Christ, and sent into the community we serve to be leaders in the Kingdom of Justice Christ calls us to live.            

Through your continued support of this parish, you have baptized four people this year; blessed and married; prepared 3 candidates for the sacraments; called and ordained a new curate; fed, clothed, and supported hundreds of homeless people; and entrusted and buried four of our own to God’s eternal care. You have changed lives because of your commitment to yielding the fruits of the Kingdom in this place. As our opening quote from Matthew suggests, there is an imminence to this yield because of the needs of the world around us. Christ, in this section of Matthew, is moving into Jerusalem and is very aware of his imminent death. He rails against an institution which seeks only its own comfort rather than the freedom and life of the Kingdom of God. As a parish we are actively living into the vocation of Christ, leaning into his vision for our ministry, and listening attentively to the needs of our community around us.            

As we move towards the closing of the year, I ask you to take stock and think of the incredible year with which God has blessed you. The highs and the lows, the love and the loss, and draw awareness to how you have marked these moments with your resources. If we believe that God is truly present in all of life's moments, then we are drawn to an awareness of how our thanksgiving is like a relationship -- it's a constant dialogue. It is this constant dialogue that asks us to make a commitment to thanksgiving throughout our year, and we have a few resources to help you make that commitment. As Christians we give of our finances as a physical mark of our thanksgiving, and in doing so we regard our financial commitment to our common life the same way we think about our rent, groceries, or phone bill – it’s a staple of our lives. For some, weekly envelopes work the best, giving us the spiritual practice of putting something in the plate. For others, using our Pre-Authorized Debit system allows us the freedom to know that our commitment to the parish continues regardless of our presence. Enclosed in this letter is both an link to our online giving options and a Pre-Authorized Debit form for you to use in your offering of thankfulness this season. Whether a onetime gift, a weekly contribution via online giving or a Pre-Authorized debit or a combination of both, your financial commitment goes to the transformational ministry we are doing in the UBC and UEL neighbourhoods of West Point Grey.            

Over the past year and a half I am continually reminded of the grace it is to serve as your Vicar, a ministry that continues to bless my life abundantly. This Thanksgiving I invite you to reflect on your own abundance and offer back to God a portion of His Grace given to you for the furthering of our common ministry together.  

With Harvest Blessings,            

Alex+

 

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