At long last spring has arrived and new life returns after the long winter. Gardens are filled with flowers, the leaves adorn the trees and birdsong fills the air. A new sense of purpose and joy fills us as we leave the cold of winter behind. I have been looking longingly at my canoe, anxious to have the paddle in hand, silently gliding through the water. I hope you too are looking forward to summer adventures.
There are 2 more 11:15 services, June 2 and 16 before this service takes the summer off. Rob will be on vacation from June 17 to July 15. I will be covering the services at St. George’s while he is away. During the summer there is an 8:00 and 9:30 service. Messy Church also takes the summer off.
Messy Church is May 31 this month. I was away in Britain at an International Messy Church Conference during our regular Messy Church day. It was a great conference. I had sternly told myself there was to be no books bought and yet I came home with four. They are really good books, full of Messy Church ideas and I could not resist! Our theme this month is Peace and Comfort and is about the coming of the Holy Spirit to the people of God. There is a reflection piece as usual. We will be having tacos for supper. I am not sure that we have ever had tacos at Messy Church. This will be the last Messy Church until September. We may be looking at a day change. I will be having a meeting with the Messy Church team to review the year. Attendance has been down this year and perhaps the decision to move from Wednesday to Friday has contributed to that. I will keep you posted.
I hope you have a wonderful summer and I look forward to seeing you in September, if not sooner in the community.
PEACE AND COMFORT
The theme for this month’s Messy Church is peace and comfort. Jesus had been raised from the dead and had been spending time with his followers, preparing them for the job ahead of them when he would no longer be with them as the man Jesus. Their job was to tell the world about God’s love and that God had loved the world so much that he had come and lived among his people as Jesus. He came to show everyone that it is possible to live in an imperfect world that can be cruel and self-centred, with love and compassion. Jesus had shown them the way, taught them the way, and now Jesus was going to give them a gift to give them courage and strength to do the job that he had trained them to do. Jesus was about to leave them to return to heaven, but he would leave them with his spirit, the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit lives in us, surrounds us, is before us, behind us and beside us. The Holy Spirit brings love, strength and courage, but also peace and comfort. Let’s take a moment to explore what those two words really mean. When we think of peace, we often have such a limited sense of the word. We often think of peace as the absence of conflict, but the word has a much richer meaning. Jesus told us that as a follower of his way, he will give us a peace that the world is unable to give us. I think that most of us have experienced peace, in all its glory, rarely in our lives. I like to think of peace as being filled with light. The darkness of despair and worry and anger and hurt are replaced with a light. Within that light there is love, compassion, a sure and certain hope and a contentment that comes from knowing we are held in the arms of God, close to God’s heart. Those are rare moments when the power of the world is overpowered by the gift of God. This is what Jesus has promised us with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit also brings comfort. Again, our sense of the world is very limited. Comfort becomes nothing more than a cup of good coffee while sitting on our comfy couch watching our favourite TV show. Comfort is so much more. Comfort is the beginning of healing of the wounds we suffer in this world. Think back to when you were a child and had scraped a knee. Mom or Dad would come, maybe give you a hug, examine the wound, kiss it better and tend to the wound with a protective bandage. In its own way, magic occurred. The pain lessened and with that comfort provided, healing began. Research has shown that when people who had been bullied, child or adult, the most helpful thing was someone coming to them afterward and asking if they were all right and saying that they did not deserve what had happened. Words of comfort, brought the beginning of healing in a cruel situation. Comfort is what Jesus has promised us with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit, the gift given to us by God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, brings to us peace and comfort. These two are a powerful reminder that God is greater than the superficial gifts of this world. Peace and comfort give us the courage to face the brokenness of our world. They are a reminder of the deep love that God has for us, and the care that God offers us.
The Rev’d Nancy Rowe is St. George’s Messy Church Coordinator and Honorary Assistant.