Dear People of Ascension,
This is a strange Thanksgiving, isn't it? I've heard from people that it will be a lot quieter, more will meet over Zoom and two of our parishioners will be joining their neighbours for turkey dinner, each sitting at a distance on their own driveway!
I don't know about you, but I find that unusual circumstances, when I can get beyond the stress, anxiety and disappointment that they often create, lead me to a deeper thinking about all the things I have to be grateful for. Loss can often increase our awareness of what we have.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for, amongst other things...
Living in a town where I can walk to the lake each day and see the beauty of fall colours.
A church community that cares for each other so much so a number of parishioners reported to me just this week how another 15 + people in our parish are doing!
The generous and faithful giving of this parish to continue the work of the church, even in a season of not being able to personally "see" a lot of that work.
A leadership team of wardens and a treasurer, who have put in countless hours on church business - answering emails, phone calls and spending time in prayer and conversation about how to lead a church through a pandemic.
The quiet faith of many of you who make phone calls, say prayers, clean pews, pick up garbage, drop off food and in general demonstrate the Spirit of Christ in our midst, often without any recognition.
I could go on. I hope you get the point. I am thankful for you, the people of Ascension. It is a challenging time to be the church, but also a unique and opportunity-filled time. We've had four new people sign up to come to our socially distanced services recently. We are negotiating with three community groups for use of our space - even with all the distancing and cleaning requirements that need to be adhered to! And we'll be celebrating a baptism next week - though not all together in person (for safety reasons), you will be invited to attend in prayer and spirit.
I am thankful because God is alive and thriving in our midst and not even a pandemic can quench the Spirit of God! Praise be to God!
All of that said, I am aware that there are quite a few people in this parish undergoing numerous challenges that include awaiting test results, cancer treatement, and mental health challenges. My hope for them and for those close to them is that Thanksgiving will not be a time when they feel they have to hide that reality, but rather a time when they can pause in the midst of their very real challenges, and sense the Spirit of God holding them and the community praying for and loving them.
Many of you have asked recently about our curate, The Rev. Phil Gearing. We have all been praying for him while he is on a leave of absence. I reached out to the diocese and was told that...
"Please be assured that Father Phil is being well cared for and supported. We can appreciate how difficult it is for you but we must respect his privacy at this time. And please continue to keep him in your prayers."
I will be sending a card with our well wishes included. To honour the need to not touch common items, I would ask that you either drop a small note off at the church (on Sunday morning in the offering basket) OR email to me a line or two you'd like included in the card. I will send the card on Wednesday this coming week, so please send something prior to that.
May each of you know the blessing of gratitude that inspires our spirits and sustains us in times that challenge us.
With Peace, Ruthanne
The Reverend Canon Ruthanne Ward