Summer stage #11, Sunday 7 August 2016–How does one pray for those who wobble and fall? Those who teach others with kindness, firm guidance, and love? For peace? Those suffering the scourge of war and calamities of nature? Women and children who suffer domestic violence and homelessness? Those who are ill, their families and caregivers? Those who refuse to give but rather build bigger barns in which to hoard instead of help? How does one pray for them?
Last Sunday in “The Prayers of the People” part of the service at St George’s Anglican Church in New Hamburg, Ontario, we responded to each of those prayer opportunities with the affirmation, “I am to them like those who lift their infants to their cheeks.” What a beautiful image, that of treating all things good and bad just like those committed to lovingly lift their infants to their cheeks. Not alone, not with mere resignation, but as a loving community serving together. We ended the responsive prayer: “Loving God, through Jesus Christ you nurture and nourish us. You love us with a steadfast love: low and high, rich and poor together. Renew in us your call and release us from all fear, that we may heed these things and consider your steadfast love for all.”
Fear not. We have no need to fear, said Rev. Margaret Walker in her sermon. As people of God we are renewed daily to face the world with a trust that casts out all fear.
In 2013 St George’s celebrated 175 Years of Anglican ministry in Wilmot Township. They celebrated the story of their ministry, their journey of Christian faith and action, rather than focussing mainly on bricks and mortar.
We opted for worship at St George’s since some of the Mennonite churches were having a joint summer service and we were able to walk to Saint George’s, just like we do when we attend St Anta and All Saints in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, UK in winter. The bulletin for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost included this morning household prayer to guide us through the week: “Loving God, as I embark on the adventure of this new day, I will imagine you as my mother or father, teaching me to walk with cords of human kindness and love, a tether as you guide me along. Therefore I will not fear failure or worry that I will not have enough time or goods if I give a little to those in need, Amen.”
A garden where beauty glows
Scenes from the garden at the home of Brian and Vivian Bender in New Hamburg, Ontario.
At the Festival Theatre
The week included extended time with family and friends. Eleven of us saw The Hypochondriac by Moliere at the Stratford Festival of Canada. Humour truly is the best medicine, still, we were cautioned not to laugh ourselves sick. It’s a story about a seventeenth century father who is healthy, wealthy and clearly (for the audience) unwise. The program notes said, “The cures Moliere seeks through his satire are of his audience’s misguided beliefs and fixations.” What ills (fears) would Moliere cure us of today?
“Greeters” on a stroll through Riverside Park, Guelph, Ontario
Backroads to Ingersoll and Aylmer
We did a day trip with friends Ray and Marianne Schlegel to visit an Amish community at Aylmer. Highlights included seeing inside the ice-cooled packing house for the organic produce the Amish raise and distribute to stores and restaurants and visiting Pathway Publishers and its related Heritage Historical Library. The Library collects materials written by, for and about the Amish. Holdings cover 103 categories, each containing anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of items. Pathway has 36,000 subscribers to its monthly, Family Life. They also publish Young Companion, all without outside generated electricity.
The Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum opened the door to an not-so-distant era.
Back home again in Indiana
Back home again we spent part of Saturday at Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site at Rome City in LaGrange County. Niece Shari Wagner read some of her poetry related to writer, naturalist and actress Stratton-Porter (1863-1924).
In Elkhart County, school started on Thursday. In church this morning we had a Back to School Blessing for students and teachers. Children reenacted the story of the Good Samaritan. Summer pastoral intern Ben Bouwman preached on “Rescue the oppressed,” Isaiah 1:1, 10-20. Among the oppressed he singled out sexual-gender LGBTQ minority groups. “Why is there so much fear in the world of gay people?” he posed. The church has another mountain to climb to bring healing and welcome to these dear brothers and sisters, he said.
A wow week wraps up
It has been a ‘wow’ week. I end with an excerpt from a flyer that St George’s has for the parents of young children: “Relax! God put the wiggle in little children; don’t feel you have to suppress it in God’s house. All are welcome!” To members of the parish the card notes, “Please welcome our children and give a smile of encouragement to their parents. It is not easy to get little ones up and here for worship. Make sure they know that we are happy that they made that effort.”