Last night was a real great night at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. Annually we celebrate All Souls in this parish with a Mass to which we send personal invitations to each and every family that I have had the privilege of grieving with at the death of a loved one. This year that totalled over 168 letters to families, many whom are not members of our parish. 

About 120 people came out last night. Some of them were living very recent grief and others were remembering loved ones that had gone to their rest many years ago. All of us present were living a very common existence and it was evidenced in the sense of community that the evening fostered. The mood was reflective and prayerful. One of the highlights of the liturgy was the Prayers of the People. They were written by John Anderson and added a great sense of refection to the night. These petitions to God were sincere and comprehensive including prayers for the any who are suffering loss due to things beyond their control, such as war, famine, AIDS, and the many natural disasters that seem to at times never end.

Our Guest Preacher was Father William Bradley who is the rector of St. John’s Church Sandwich. Bill’s homily was very well done and gave us all a great sense of hopefulness. Bill is positively one of the most pastoral people I know. His love for people and his deep sense of compassion rang out in his words of reassurance. I was particularly taken with the image that while we may no longer see our loved ones who have died, they remain with us and that they are closest to us in the celebration of the Eucharist. It was a reminder to the church that as we celebrate the Sacrament of Jesus we are in communion with all those who have gone on before us –  “prophets, apostles and martyrs and those who look to you in every generation in hope.” ( Eucharistic Prayer BAS).   

The night was made more special by the contributions of our Choir and our Church Music Director Andrea Morosin as well as four of our own servers. The music ministry was supplemented with the gifts of Songbird, who offered music before our celebration as well as a couple of pieces in the liturgy.  The night was not just worship. It was fellowship and it was community. We get to know each other best when we sit and eat together. The Marcotte Funeral Home and Chapel provided and tremendous reception after the liturgy. Tea and desserts along with coffee (they even had de-caffeinated coffee). The staff of the Funeral home provide all of the service and preparation and cleanup. It is a great gift to the parish and to the people they serve. I believe that Jerry Marcotte and his staff  are living a vocation and provide great care and love in what they do. They do more than just a job. I speak for all in the parish when I say that we are thankful for what Marcotte’s offer. They are great supporters of the Tecumseh and indeed the Windsor Community. Thanks so much for a great night.

 SOOOOO.

 What is happening today at St. Mark’s. Well I think the words that comes to mind are "making a difference." What do I mean? Well… 

William James the American philosopher and pragmatist is credited with saying “Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.” I like that quite a bit. I like it because it is true to the extent that we live it. We are connected to those around us. Our lives are not unrelated to those around us and we do have the ability to have a positive impact on those who walk beside us on the journey, whether we know them or not.

Tonight people are assembling at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake for a pasta dinner. “Nothing extra special about that,” you might say. Well there is more to the story.

Ben is a young man, 42 who is struggling against cancer. This battle has placed stress beyond our knowing upon his family. These terrible conditions often are compounded when work situations have to change and financial burdens become yet another pain in a long list of discomforts for those who are affected. We have been praying for Ben in the midst of his struggle. The community does not know Ben or his family. We do know part of his extended family in John and Janet Forster. We have all been touched by Ben’s story and we are pleased that Janet and John took the bull by the horns tonight and are hosting this dinner in Ben’s honour. The hope is that as his family and friends and our parishioners come out tonight and make their freewill offering we will be able to offer Ben and his family a gift that will help at least ease some of their worry, and some of their pain.

I stopped into the church earlier and met Ben and offered a prayer to begin the dinner. Ben is a man of great strength to face all that he has faced while continuing to be positive and to fight back against cancer.  I was pleased to see others from the parish on hand to volunteer and to assist with this important initiative.  There is always good work accomplished when we work together for the good of another of God’s children.

The wonder of it all is that when we work  to make a difference in this world we are really changing ourselves as much as we are changing the world. The Russian philosopher Tolstoy captures this in these words –  “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” The truth is that we can really make a difference if we seek to change how we ourselves sometimes need changing. It is also true that in each and every act of kindness, each and every acceptance of our interrelatedness, in each and every effort to respect the dignity of another human being we become change and we are changed.

How pleased I was to see the people of God doing their part tonight to respect the dignity of another human being. There were our parishioners, and Ben’s friends and family acting as if what they do makes a difference – because it does! Please keep Ben in your prayers as he continues on his journey.

PS Photos to Be posted soon from this dinner for Ben.