What a surprise that we saw coming: a nasty coastal storm made its way through our region over the weekend, dumping a heavy and destructive mix of snow and rain all over us. We have friends north and west of us who had it much worse than we did. They are still without power. Schools are closed and tranit lines are shuttered while cleanup takes place. All of this in October, long before most of us are morally, physically and spiritually prepared for snow, winter and the sort of storms we can expect as a seasonal gift from God.
Instead, this one felt like a heavy, wet slap across the cheek. Granted, it was a slap that took down branches, bent and broke shrubs and left a lot of meesy piles of sluch mixed with leaves, but all the same...it felt like a slap.
I could say that I felt like the weather decided to add insult to injury for us here at St. Peter's, but instead I am counting my blessing on slightly chilled, stiff fingers. After heat waves, an earthquake, summer storms, a hurricane and the challenges of trying to figure out how to raise money for a "million-dollar" cleanup and rebuild, we have a lot to be thankful for after this weekends snowstorm.
Item one: I am thankful for the wonderful, mindful people who ventured out into the storm to care for our Church. The altar was dressed, the sanctuary and Parish Hall were clean and the big challenge of restoring heat to the church with a boiler rebuild was completed quite literally in the nick of time.
Item two: Even with a "cool" church and a lousy weekend stacked up on top of it, our parish's committment to follow through on worship and service to Christ continues. Some folk have pulled back a bit, which is to be expected. These are tough times, and coming to Church to brave continued hardships is not always everyone's cup of tea. Sometimes, it does feel better in the short term to stay home with that cup of tea...but God willing we will continue to keep things moving forward
Item three: People are continuing to support the Church's missions. A record amount of money was raised at the Mayor and Council's pancake breakfast to support the Food Pantry. We are completing and submitting grants to the United Thank Offering to seek funding for expanding our feeding program. Pledges are coming in to support the Church this coming year. Despite high levels of fatigue, leadership is still laughing and giving thanks. We continue to dream about where God is calling us into service.
Item four: When I am weak, people give me some of their strength. When I am fearful, people share their courage. When I am worried, people portion out some of their confidence. When I am strong, I can always find someone to offer a helping hand to...and when I am joyful in the Lord there is always someone just around the corner to share that feeling with, without fail.
As Sunday approaches, we look forward to an observance of All Saints'. The Gospel for the day is one commonly referred to as "the Beatitudes." In that passage, part of a larger section of scripture in Matthew called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus blesses all sorts and conditions of people.
I can't think of a better way to start preparing a sermon for Sunday that to kick off with an accounting to God of my own call to give thanks and praise to my Creator for ALL things.
We are blessed, indeed.