John Wesley once said, "Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can." Wesley, an Anglican priest, was the driving force behind Methodism. His life was one of passion for God and it was indeed a life that challenged the people of the day to take more seriously their journey.
I bring up Wesley tonight because of the kindness and generosity of a descendant of Methodism – Ed Smith (Well at least a descendant of the United Church). I can now confirm that Ed Smith, award winning author, humourist, teacher, disciple and downright great guy, will be coming to St. Mark’s by-the-Lake on October 23, 2007. (You can see more detail by visiting www.stmarkschurch.net.) Ed has very generously offered to add to his planned trip to Hamilton, to be present with us and share of his human experience. I confess tonight that as I think about how all of this unfolded I am so very grateful and humbled by the kindness of Ed Smith.
We all have challenges in life. We all have obstacles that we must overcome. It is fair to say that Ed Smith has MORE THAN A few obstacles to overcome in his day to day journey. I cannot imagine in fact how difficult some days must be. Yet here is the deal – I really don’t believe that this man spends much time focused on those obstacles or those challenges. Ed’s life has been defined not by an accident that happened in 1998, but by a lifetime of touching the hearts and minds of the people of my beloved Newfoundland and indeed to lands beyond. In short it has been defined by giving. Ed’s creative energy is a gift to those who have been reading his work, and that is no less true today than it was before his accident in 1998. Ed overcame great obstacles to get back to doing all that he could in as may ways as he could in as many places as he could, as often as he could, to as many people as he could, and will do that, I am certain, as long as he can. I have never met Ed Smith – but today my heart swells in thanksgiving for the good that he has done for me and for my congregation. Out of the blue last week Ed and his wife Marion decided that offering to come here to speak was a good way to DO something for someone else. They were right! It has done a lot for me. As much as I hate to admit that from time to time I need a lift, this boost was much needed and at the right time. But the positive impact on me will no doubt pale in comparison to what Ed will do for all who hear him. To date almost 30 people have indicated that they want to meet this man and be here to hear him speak, more than 20 people have ordered his book From The ashes of My Dreams (I have more copies ), and I am sure that more people are coming forward. We only starting getting the word out on Monday morning and we have a couple of weeks before his arrival.
I am excited to meet Ed – I cannot tell you how many laughs he has given me and countless others as he “done good to many” through his article The View from Here. In this kind gesture of his Ed has again “done good, using his gifts again to people that he does not even know. All of us who will be able to be present on October 23, 2007 will be the beneficiaries of the kindness of a tremendous couple more than 3000 kilometres away. I have heard Marion referred to in Ed’s weekly Column (Where she is known as OH) In From the Ashes of My Dreams, Marion writes parts of chapters and she expresses her feelings, her turmoil and her fears in the midst of Ed’s rehabilitation. Having read these passages it is obvious that she too is a very strong person and she loves Ed so very much. One of the really touching elements of the story is the honest way in which Ed exposes his own vulnerability and how he acknowledges how Marion’s strength was so important in helping him get through it all. I was warmed in reading Marion’s expressions of love and tenderness, of her strength and support. If you want to join us in reading this book – or in taking the opportunity to meet Ed and Marion please be in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have been given a great gift as a parish community as we prepare now to meet a couple who really inspire hope. I pray that we all might heed the words of Wesley and the example of Marion and Ed Smith – Let us pray that we all might “Do all the good [we] can. By all the means [we] can. In all the ways [we] can. In all the places [we] can. At all the times [we] can. To all the people [we] can. As long as ever [we] can."