By Rev. Rhonda Pigott-Thorndale
Welcome back everyone!
After a month on Sabbatical, we meet as a community of faith. We have missed each other in this community but at the same time we have the opportunity to experience our world in many different ways. None of us could have predicted the horrendous experience of the Lake Country fire and other area fires nearby. I was in Scotland for most of August, but my husband Tom was here at home. I kept up with what was going on through the media, text messaging and What’s App phone calls and amazingly through my Scottish cousins and the Scot media. I discovered that if I couldn’t be here, I needed know as much as possible or my mind ran rampant with negative thoughts.
I had been in contact with one of my piano students who was to do her Royal Conservatory exam on Saturday. They had 5 minutes to evacuate the day before. No time to grab her books or the clothes she had planned on wearing the next day. No time for anything but to get the family together and leave along with everyone else. What a frightful experience for all those who live here.
As scary as this was, it is very hard to see hope in this situation, but there was. My brother had been evacuated for 10 days with the Osoyoos fire. When he and his wife returned home, he was in awe that their home was still standing. The trees, the sage, the brush all around him were charred and crisp yet their house was intact as was the same for his neighbours in this small acreage subdivision above the town.
Tom and I drove through Winfield the other day to see how powerful the fire had been. Amazingly, we saw much the same. Homes untouched by flames yet charred yards around. What struck me strangely were the trees that had ignited and the circumference under them burnt yet the clump grass still untouched in the outskirts of the main blaze.
How grateful we are to the firefighters, police, the water bombers, and helicopter pilots, those local and those who came from afar, and other service people for risking so much for our safety. To hear how our folks in Lake Country reached out to help their neighbours shows us the love and caring we have for each other, and the love and caring our congregation gave either individually or collectively so strangers. It reminds me of the ancient Celtic rune of Hospitality:
“I saw a stranger yesterde ‘en. I put food in the eating place, drink in the drinking place, music in the listening place, and in the sacred name of the Triune He blessed myself and my house, my cattle and my dear ones, and the lark said in her song often, often, often, goes Christ in the stranger’s guise.”
Maybe you were one of the evacuated, or someone on alert or neither, but waiting with great anticipation, not knowing what might happen. These are the stories we need to share with each other, and to give thanks that we are here today to do so.
If we feel comfortable, let’s take a few minutes to share with our neighbours, our thoughts and feelings of the fire.
TIME OUT FOR DISCUSSION
Let us pray.
May the mind of God ever wiser than our minds, search us deeply. And open us to the truths that make for our healing. May the ears of God ever open to our prayers, listen to us deeply. And hear beneath our words, our honest yearnings. May the heart of God, ever filled with costly love, cherish us deeply. Mending any brokenness and affirming our worth. Amen.
I struggled with what Scripture best fit this Sunday of hope and new beginning and was led to what Jeannette read, about baby Moses. What grabbed me was how the women in the Moses story used their clever creativity and bravery and worked with the river to help protect the baby.
The story of Moses and the women at the river invites us to consider new beginnings and the courage of these women who refused to participate in an oppressive regime. The midwives, Moses’ mother and sister, and Pharoah’s daughter all find clever and even cheeky ways to subvert Pharaoh’s orders. Pharaoh said to throw the baby boys in the river, but he never said you couldn’t use a basket. The story demonstrates the need to look back on what has been in order to recognize what’s working and what isn’t as we strive forward.
When I read this story, I got the distinct impression that it was almost as though Moses had a wall of protection around him. Here was a child who came from a very unlikely place, found in a basket in the river. He could have drowned, he could have starved to death, he could have been injured in a thousand ways and yet he survives. He was an unlikely candidate for leadership. This is something we notice in many of the men and women in scripture who became leaders. Many of them started life at a great disadvantage.
Within our midst, we are all leaders in some form, we serve, we welcome, we are here. In our weekly announcements, you can see no matter what disaster hit our community, we continue. September is here and our outreach continues, some old and some new. We were open for a full week during the fire for morning coffee, a place for people for gather and talk, a safe place of welcome for all. Our thrift shop is as active as ever, meeting the needs of the community; we help with the community fridge to name but a few. New ideas are emerging as a new form of music is starting up this month, our committees are meeting, our fall fair is quickly approaching. As people of faith, we are grounded in God’s love for us, and that is what spurs us forward in this new fall season.
I suppose in some ways we are in a sink or swim situation. But we are survivors. When we find the waves overwhelming in our lives and we discover that God is our anchor, we may find our own courage to act for a better world. We are individuals but we are also a loving and caring community that reaches out to each other and those beyond these walls even in situations like the fire we just experienced. We bring our own individual gifts and skills and use them toward a common goal of reconciliation for all creation. As part of our work toward this goal, we need to explore and celebrate each stage of life.
We may yearn for the past, that time before Covid and the fire, that familiar time, but there are new beginnings waiting. May we see the bright and colourful gifts we have in the now and look to the future promise with hope.
This is the foundation of our faith and our community. Our connection through the Holy One keeps us grounded and stable. When we work together with a common goal, evaluating and reflecting on the past, we can make change happen. We have hope and are entering a season of new beginnings.
May it be so.