Friday, November 19, 2004

December's Pastoral Letter

Too late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new,
too late have I loved you!
You were within me but I was outside myself, and I sought You there!
In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made.
You were with me, and I was not with You.
The things You have kept me from .
You were with me, and I was not with You.
The things You have kept me from You –
the things which would have no being unless they existed in You!

You have called, You have cried out, and You have pierced my deafness.
You have radiated forth, and have shined out brightly,
and you have dispelled my blindness.
You have set forth Your fragrance, and I have breathed it in,
And I have longed for You.
I have tasted You, and I hunger and thirst for You.
You have touched me, and I ardently desire Your peace.

St. Augustine of Hippo, 354-430

As I write this I can’t believe that I’ve been here for a year already. When I left Halifax, it was a beautiful autumn day. When I stepped off the plane in Calgary, I was met by snow and ice. But after listening to news reports, it looks like fortunes have been reversed, as Nova Scotia is digging out of a foot or two of snow and waiting for their lights to come back on, we are enjoying warm, October-like weather.

But weather is not the only reason I’m glad to be here. I am enjoying ministry here immensely. Mostly because I am surrounded by a people whose faithfulness to this ministry leaves me inspired and humbled. What drives me so intensely in ministry is being caught up in the vision that God has for our community. But that vision doesn’t happen in a vacuum. God’s visions come from a community grounded in worship and prayer.

Worship and prayer remind us who we are and whose we are. I liked that quote from St. Augustine because it reminds us that our true stance is toward God in prayer, hungering and thirsting for the presence of God in our lives and the world, but also being aware enough to know that we miss signs of God that exist all around us.

For me, one of the greatest challenges in preaching is finding hints of God’s presence in peoples’ lives and our community. Too often, I look for the big moves of God. The child healed of cancer. The marriage pulled from the brink of divorce. The radically transformed “sinner” into a card-carrying member of the church.

But God doesn’t always work that way. God, most often works within the smallest, almost imperceptible areas of life: the child giving a spontaneous hug to the older woman who just lost her husband. A bag of groceries dropped on the door step of the young family struggling to pay the bills. A brief prayer in the hallway between friends. Nothing earth shattering. But wholly life-giving.

It is my prayer that we will breathe deeply the fragrance of God and taste profoundly God’s grace in our lives, and that we will sing the song of our salvation to each other and to a world that so desperately needs to listen to God’s lyric of new life.

Grace and peace to you,


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