Nov25SunNovember 25, 2012
Below is the sermon I was honoured to give at the Sunday service on November 25. Thank you for the feedback from those who were there.
May the thoughts in my mind, the feelings in my soul, and the visions I see behind my eyes....come to the surface, as God’s voice....spoken through my lips. May they float through this sacred place, sitting atop your shoulders, landing under your feet and may they be heard deep within your soul.
This is Kelly. She is our minister. She is a mama. She is a daughter. She is a wife. She is our friend. She is a speaker. She is a listener. This is Kelly.
This is me. I am co-chair of the worship committee. I am the manager of the St. John’s choir. I write blogs for the St. John’s web site. I dance. I write prayers and I write songs. Sometimes I write a sermon. I am the office administrator here at St. John’s. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter and a mama. I am a friend. This is me.
This is you. We are pieces of a brick wall put together with mortar. Some pieces stick out, and some are tucked neatly in line. Sometimes our wall comes crashing down...and boy do we work hard to put it back together again. There are times when some of the pieces need to be set aside in order to make space. There are times I need to be a mama to my girls, and there are times when I need to be dancing in my studio. I know it is okay to wear my different hats. Sometimes one piece falls out, the others hold their ground and keep their place.
As I gaze out today, I see so many beautiful people. You come each week, or you might have a sleep-in. Both are okay, and both are needed. I see you. Kelly sees you. We hear you and we appreciate you, each and every one of you. You all have a gift. Did you know that?
At the end of August, after filling in at the church office, I formally applied for the Office Administrator position along with dozens of other individuals. I interviewed for the position facing a panel of people asking deep-thought-provoking questions. I haven’t sat in an interview for over 17 years. I sat in the Parlour, feeling nervous yet relaxed...and then it came to me....I was sitting on the couch that used to be in my parent’s living room. I was surrounded by couches and chairs, my Dad’s chair...so familiar and so comforting. My mom donated it all to the church when she moved into a condo this past May. Couches and chairs that are filled with love and light, good memories of my Dad, and snuggles with my girls when they were just babies. Story time, and puzzle time....Christmas time and healing time. So you see, my Dad was with me during the interview and so was my mom, and my sister, and her family, and my husband and my girls. We were all there in the room that day. My family is good. We stick by each other, ALWAYS, and we have each other’s back, ALWAYS. We are stewards, looking after one another and keeping spaces safe and sacred when we are together. So the nerves faded away, and I spoke from my heart. I took deep breaths and answered questions with my truth. I felt okay. Spirit was with me during the interview, guiding me, holding me and protecting me. And I knew that no matter what, being me is all I know how to be.
A couple of days later I got the call, a job offer... I was honoured and humbled. My girls jumped from their chairs and cheered when I hung up the phone from M&P, and then I burst into tears. They were tears of disbelief that M&P wanted me here ~ that St. John’s would want me here. They were tears of elation. They were tears of releasing all that I hold. My daughter handed me a Kleenex, and I began to breathe again.
I turned the office desk around so I can face into the hallway, I hung a dream catcher and when the spirit moves me, my candle is lit. Working here is a gift and I wanted you all to know that. I am gifted each day when I come to work...because I get to see the angels in this space each and every day. I get to see you, and how you keep this space, safe and sacred to us all. When the winds change and times are tough, you are here. As Jesus said, these are the beginnings of the birth pains. And something beautiful always comes from pain and darkness. You are all Stewards, holding pieces of the brick wall together, and when some begin to fall, someone just steps on in to help us through the harder times. You do it without question or attitude... May we all just pause for a moment, and think of the volunteering we do, without feeling obligation, without feeling resentment. Now may you take that feeling and breathe it into your soul. May you carry it with you, as you go to your place of work, and as you go home.
How does the food get to your table? Or how do the clean clothes appear in your dresser? Your lawn gets cut and the driveway gets shoveled. How did your walls get painted or the bulbs get into your garden? This is stewardship....stewardship at home.
St. John’s is your home too. Do you wonder about this space and how it all comes together? We are surrounded by angels, each of us contributing in some way or another. A few weeks ago, on the morning of Nan Wheeler’s funeral, I sat in the church office, and the church doors opened and closed too many times to count....men and women of all ages bringing in sandwiches, loaves upon loaves and desserts – trays upon trays....it was a beautiful sight and brought tears to my eyes. Food...an endless supply. Do you come to a funeral and ever wonder how there can be so much food? Sandwiches and baked goods? Wonder no more, my friends, it is you....you who sit in this space. I’ve witnessed it now, and I am changed because of it. People helping people, helping people we may or may not even know.
The cobwebs are wiped away, the candles are refreshed on a Sunday, the envelopes are in the pews, the money gets counted, the phones are answered. We hear you and we see you. God sees you.
The ping pong table appears from nowhere you say? It comes from somewhere, and someone from this space brings it out and puts it away.
The children gather on a Friday night to eat pizza and play 5-pin bowling. It magically happens you say? Someone from this space, gathers up the pieces and makes it happen.
Leaves get raked up, and pot holes get filled with tractors and trucks from your homes. Wreaths are placed, and poinsettias are ordered. Your donations are tracked, and receipts are sent to you. You receive emails, you send emails. We are listening. God is listening.
For the children, we have small chairs and pillows on the floor. We have colouring paper and little toy trucks. We are listening. We see you. We love you. We bring it all out and it all gets put away. Not by magic, but by the angels in our midst.
The display cases fill up, get switched around and dusted, and are replaced with new items. The library houses a plethora of reading material...not by chance but by purpose. Veggies grow in a garden and are shared with the community. You are God’s angels. You are good. You are loved.
Frayed carpet corners get put back in place, drum sets assembled, light bulbs get changed, scripture readers are chosen and songs are sung. Caring circles in place to hold one another in love and light.
This is Stewardship. It is defined as this: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care... ~ this is what and who we are at St. John’s...caring and responsible.
We are all Stewards in some way or another. Do you want to help but you aren’t sure how? My door is open and you can speak with me anytime. Leslie Michalak or Dianne Dillabough, our co-chairs will happily guide you to a Committee that suits you and your unique gifts....are you not sure how to ask?....just ask. This is one of the safest most sacred places that I know of, and no one will judge or criticise. There are no mistakes. God’s angels amongst us all...waiting to see....waiting to hear....waiting to fly.
Last week Kelly mentioned a letter that I wrote to the camp leaders of the Kiwanis summer camp. It was in July and I was just filling in. Kelly witnessed one of the leaders having a moment, in the washroom, tears spilling out onto her cheeks.
I’ve often said, that tears are God’s nectar coming outside from our souls to touch and baptize our skin....to cleanse, to renew and to refresh. Kelly told me of the lady, and said to me, “perhaps we should get them a card or write a note”, so I went back to my desk and wrote the note. I printed it off, and we gave it to those women just a few moments later.
Over the past week, I have had several requests to read my note, I share it with you now...
Dear beautiful women of the Kiwanis Camp:
You are a breath of fresh air in this space. You are a breath of fresh air to the children. You are a breath of fresh air to the parents of these children. You are a breath of fresh air to us.
You exude grace and love for ALL children. We can see it in your eyes, and in your hearts.
This time at camp provides the parents with so much peace…
~ peace that they can go about their day knowing their children are being well-cared for
~ peace that they can reconnect to who they are as individuals, and not just to who they are as parents of a special-needs child
~ peace that they, too, are loved
May you look into the mirror knowing that you are GOOD and you are doing GOOD. Life is not an easy place to be but you are here on this earth to connect in a way you do so lovingly ~ and we are thankful for your presence.
Know this too….when you see tears spilling out of your eyes, or frustration building in your soul, it is Spirit’s way of asking you to reach deeper than ever before. It is a check-in time to breathe and trust that each moment you are with these children, they know they are loved for who they are. For deep down, we are all the same….God’s little souls ~ longing to be loved, and longing to love; longing to be heard, and longing to hear; longing to be seen, and longing to see. Each one of us – the same – but packaged up differently.
May you rest your head each night on your pillow, exhaling the day and breathing the breath of your own fresh air.
with love, Katharine & Kelly
It was a letter, and at the time, it was “just” a letter, but when I get my fingers on the keys, they can’t seem to stop. I somehow sensed the note needed to be written and given to them that day....not the next day, or a week later. This letter rippled far beyond the eyes of those women. It reached their hearts. It reached their souls...
And here is what they sent back to me…
Dear St. John’s...On July 26th, you wrote a poem to the staff at the Kiwanis camp. It spoke of the staff being a breath of fresh air. The staff were so touched by it, they showed me Manager, Children and Youth Services, Community Living North Halton, and I made copies of it for each of them. I then showed it to my director and she in turn showed it to the Executive Director. He was so moved by it that he would like Katharine and Kelly’s permission to put it on our Community Living North Halton website. Could you send along this email to these two dear ladies on my behalf, we would love to share it on the website and with many others with your permission.
This is what Stewardship does...we help and we do and we thank and we say “I love you” and just when we think the winds are blowing, it changes direction and comes back to us one hundred fold. It just does. Healing hands...reaching out from God, with God, brick by brick ...healing each other.
Thanks be to God.