Monday, May 20, 2013

A Wonderful Pentecost!

What a Wonderful Day!
Pentecost 2013

This is an important day for these young people and their families. We have three baptisms this morning and another half a dozen youngsters who will receive their first full official holy communion. Also we can now say with joy that as of July 1st you will have your new rector with you: Fr David Green. And we can also say with some sadness that I, Fr. Paul will also be leaving within a few short weeks. Sad to say both Bishop Paul of the Diocese of Bethlehem and Bishop Tom of the Diocese of Massachusetts are experiencing significant health problems.

But it is still a Wonderful Day...filled with the wonders of God. By now we know that all of us are constituent parts of the Glory that is God’s. In our Baptism,  Communion, Confirmation and Ordination; each occasion marks how important each of us is in the eyes of God. We are more than equal in God’s eyes. Each one of us is infinitely precious to God. You are worthy of forgiveness; a fact that is good news indeed. But you are also of such value to God that you are worthy of eternal life! How wonderful is that!
That has been my message to you since I came here. And this is the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus. You are forgiven! You are the beloved of God who shall live forever. Your eternal life begins in your baptism. Your eternal life is nourished by the Holy Eucharist; that communion with God which we celebrate each and every Sunday in this church.

Pentecost is important to us for another reason. It is the birthday of the church. It has been fifty days since Easter. The word Pentecost means “fifty days” and it was an important feast day of the Jewish People in the Ancient Near Eastern World. The Feast marked a celebration of the giving of the Mosaic Law which of course marked the birth of the community of Israel. Thus God gives birth to that community on earth dedicated to the service of God and God's people. That community on earth will from then on organize its life around the needs of humankind.
The Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples that first Pentecost. There was a mighty rush of wind. Each disciple was filled with the Holy Spirit and then they were able to speak intelligently in languages that people from all over the world could understand.
So too in a few short weeks 10 of us will be on Pilgrimage to France and we will hear language which has quite a different sound to us; like these words from today’s Gospel;
17 l'Esprit de vérité, que le monde ne peut recevoir, parce qu'il ne le voit point et ne le connaît point; mais vous, vous le connaissez, car il demeure avec vous, et il sera en vous. 

“This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
Because the spirit of truth is within you, you know how important God’s Church is to all of us and especially to these children which the church blesses today with Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. 
The Church, like any family, has to be constant in its effort to reach beyond itself both in love and with something as practical and real as money. Lets face it, if your family is like mine, it always seems as if there is more month left at the end of each check. Why should it be different for the church? It always seems to be that we’re a bit short of cash just like every family I know. Why would God’s Family be any different?
That’s why we conducted what we called our Summer Effort last year. Thankfully because of your generosity we raised just over $21,000 and we were able to balance our budget at the end of last year. This after staring a $40,000 deficit in the face when I came here. How wonderful that your generosity made so much possible.
As you can well imagine we need to stretch a bit this year too. We have a deficit again, but not as daunting as last year, still, it is not to be taken lightly. Add to that, there are some improvements necessary in the Rectory to make welcome your new Rectory family. The bathrooms and the kitchen need some updating, and we can do most of the work ourselves, but there still is the cost of materials.
Taken together, we estimate that we will need another $25,000 to meet our financial requirements this year. Therefore allow me to announce our Spring and Summer Effort this year. Cindy and I have promised $500 and your Vestry has promised $5000. So we’re well on our way to our goal.
We need100% participation. If everyone kicks in something extra, we can certainly make our goal of $25,000. Some of us can afford to give more, some less, but the point is for all of us to give what we can. And remember this; It is not so much the amount of the gift that counts but the amount of love that goes into the gift.
This is a wonderful day! Pentecost! The birthday of the Church! Baptism for three babies! First Communion for half a dozen more young people! Preparing for a Pilgrimage to France! A Spring and Summer Effort to make provision for God’s Church.
This is all God’s work. God’s work is worth doing well. This is God’s church. God’s Church is worth giving of ourselves to the fullest measure of our ability.
Speaking of God's work, I can tell you of one of the most important five minutes of my life. I had been summoned to the principal’s office. Yikes! Let me preface what I am about to say with a conversation I previously had with my guidance counsellor. I’m sure many of us can tell horror stories about such encounters. Algebra was nearly the death of me. I loved languages, but algebra! My marks were mediocre. So the guidance counselor told me to forget about college and set my sites on a trade school. Enter now the conversation with Mr Craddock, my principal. He said I understand you want to go to college. “Yes, sir”. I understand you want to be a clergyman. “Yes, sir”. Then listen to me, young man. If you promise to me that you will work as hard as you can to bring your marks up, then I’ll promise you that I’ll get you into the college of your choice in the Province of Ontario. I applied myself, and got those better marks. I got to college. A whole new world opened up to me then. That was in the winter of 1962-1963! It was because somebody believed in me that I began to believe in myself. And that has made all the difference. This is God's work!

These youngsters we bless today with Baptism and First Communion deserve more than just smiles and well deserved pride. They deserve our faith, the kind of faith that will make ample and generous provision for their continued nurture in the knowledge and love of God. They need to know we believe in them. We need to know that God believes in us. God needs to know that we love his church. So, remember to give what you can to make provision for these children and their church, these children and your church.
Thank you, Fr. Paul

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