I really enjoyed church earlier today at St. Aidan’s. It was wonderful to be with families who came to remember their loved ones as we dedicated a window in their memory. It was good to be reminded that God has placed many gifts in our community in the generations that came before us, in the generations we now celebrate and the generations that are yet to come. It is so true that we need to give glory to God, because “God’s power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. We give glory to God from generation to generation in the church and in Christ Jesus.” I had a little snippet of how one of our current generations can do more than we can ask or imagine because of God’s presence in them. One of those generations is our seniors and another is our children.
On Friday evening the parish had a party to celebrate 31 years of dedicated love and service from one of the saints of this church – Eileen Allen.
She has been a dutiful secretary to many rectors for over 30 years. Eileen has loved this community and this community has loved her. It was special for so many of her friends and peers to be together to raise toast after toast to our Eileen. Perhaps Bishop Townshend put it best when he said, that she ‘has been a mother to us all.’ While Eileen will finish her duties in the parish office this Friday, her work in our community will continue as she continues to be a faithful member of the Alter Guild and a Eucharistic Minister and indeed a disciple among us. Thank you Eileen for all that you have done to make the presence of Jesus more visible in our community.
This morning our youngest disciples showed their appreciation to Eileen. With cards, banners, and roses in hand they brought her before the community and snag “His Banner Over Me is Love.” It was a really touching moment. Our Director of Children Youth and Family Ministry, Trish O’Neil had taken the time to teach our children about how important God’s creative love is. A part of that created order, she reminded them, is US. Eileen provided a great example to the children of what long loving service to God looks like. The notion that our children would take time to honour that long service in front of our community is testimony to the fact that God is doing great things in our Church School. Looking at the children in front of Eileen I could not help but quietly pray, ‘glory to God from generation to generation!’
The other really heartening thought is rooted in the fact that the children’s work in the community is a great reminder to us that we have to recall who we are. The unrestrained and free spirits of the children should serve to teach us to search for our unrestrained and free spirit. In his book Community and Growth, Jean Vanier wrote, “All of us have a secret desire to be seen as saints, heroes, martyrs. We are afraid to be children, to be ourselves.” I believe that church has a way of encouraging that secret desire and it is destructive to the building up of the community of Christ. Our children will help us find the truth that we must be ourselves and we must embrace the child within. We are to be reminded that ‘God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children.’
It was all driven home for me at the end of church where Sam was playing. First, my heart was well pleased to see our children so welcomed in this beautiful church narthex. There in our bright space was generation to generation. One generation was drinking teas and chatting as our generation is wont to do. Sam was a great witness to another generation. He quite proudly came to me and said, “I need to show you something.” He was so excited at how tall he had stacked the building blocks. And what a thrill it was to see Sam’s tower of blocks.
All of the preaching, all of the praying, all of the singing was behind us for the day but right there before me was an image that was a powerful moment of proclamation. I in that moment was reminded of the words of Vanier – and found myself asking, “we want to be heroes and martyrs and saints… have we forgotten how to be children?” I am so thankful to Samuel for the gentle reminder today that we need to remember to be ourselves. He was so excited, so overjoyed and so comfortable in his own skin. He was a great witness in that moment of what it looks like to know that one is among God’s beloved. I am so glad that the church in which Samuel and I are both discipling, side by side with many others, allows us constant reminders that we need to be comfortable being ourselves and permitting others to see who we are as well. Sam showed me today what the building blocks to good community look like!
I think I’ll go stack up some building blocks….sure beats stacking up BCPs (all I could find to stack up in church when I was Samuel’s age).