Once in a while as a priest in the church, I am given a glimpse into the sacred, as expressed in simple, loving words and actions of others. While visiting Newfoundland last week for my friend Clare Stewart’s ordination to the priesthood, I was privileged to witness one such moment.
Floss is an octogenarian who lives in Port Saunders, on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula. She attends Saint John the Divine Church, which is one of the churches in the Parish of Port Saunders where Clare is now the Priest-in-Charge. Floss has taken a shine to her new minister, and has great love in her heart for this woman of God who is working in her community. She would love to have travelled to Corner Brook for Clare’s ordination service, but her husband is unwell and she stays at his side as a loving caregiver.
So when Catherinanne and I were privileged to join Clare and Jenn, along with their families for a special dinner before the ordination service, Floss and her family were several hours north praying for their minister. Before we sat down for dinner, Clare picked up a voice message, and was kind enough to allow me to hear it. It was from Floss. Here’s what the message said…
I guess the time is drawing close now, nearing just a couple of hours. I have this little message for you.
Although we are not there with you, in body, our thoughts and prayers are with you as you get ordained this evening. May God be with you in your journey through life.
We love you from the bottom of our hearts,
Boyge, Floss, and Valerie
Take care, we love you
This short, sweet message, from a woman with many years of ministry in her parish community, was one of the most meaningful moments in a very special day for Clare.
Never underestimate the power of a gesture of kindness. I get the sense that whatever the Divine is, we come closest to it when love is poured out. Floss, in taking time to call Clare, on a day of great significance in her life, and in the life of the church, was pouring out love, and in my mind, drawing all of us who heard her message closer to God.
Clare would go on that evening to hear many different words. Words like doctrine, discipline, worship, canons, obedience, authority, wisdom, etc. As important as all of those words are, and as important as the moments in the ordination when they were uttered were, I would posit there were no words more important uttered that day than the wise words of love poured out by Floss.
God knows I do not need to give Clare much advice about how to be a faithful Pastor. I can already see that she has a handle on that. But I will ask her and others to indulge me as I offer this…
On the days when things get a little dark, or you question whether or not you know the Way, or you feel the church is not living up to its call, or you feel hurt by colleagues or parishioners, or you simply feel tired of it all, remember the words of Floss. Hold on to Floss’s words. Treasure those words. but don’t just hold them…..you can share those words. You can tell others they are loved. You can remind folks that you walk with them, even when you are not physically present!
I shed a couple of tears on the feast of Saint Andrew last week. One of them was listening to these important words of a wise, long-time, loving minister of the church who took time out of her day to call a young woman and let her know that she was loved, appreciated, and that she has companions on the journey. Thank you Floss for your faithful ministry.