As I sit at my desk, I am wet and cold. But my heart is, as John Wesley once said, ‘strangely warmed’.
I was out at the Collins Bay federal penitentiary this morning. A group of 17 men there had organized a long distance run as an opportunity to raise money. Given the limited amount of money that incarcerated men there have, the total of over $300 was incredible. They had heard about the Sunday Supper programme of St. Andrew’s Church, offering a free home cooked meal to all, and the chaplain had arranged for the cheque to be presented this morning to help cover the costs of a couple of meals. It was a privilege to represent the congregation. And it was humbling to acknowledge how these men took up Christ’s mission of extending the care of neighbour and stranger.
Earlier in the week we had begun our Tuesday evening study series. This autumn we are focusing upon the dynamics of the Reformation, in preparation for next year’s 500th anniversary of Luther posting his 95 theses upon the door of the church in Wittenberg. To begin, I invited each table to use paper and a marker to draw some image of the history of the Church and Christian faith. One table drew a line with a beginning and an ending, but with many peaks and valleys between, signifying a movement towards God’s kingdom but filled with eras of both faithfulness and unfaithfulness, inspiration and conformity, growth and decline. Among the others, another table drew a rough picture of the continents, and with arrows showed how the gospel had spread from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth … and then all around and even back. I am very aware of the wonderful mission movements of the Presbyterian Church through the 19th and 20th centuries, but equally how now we are welcoming the gospel by way of new Canadians. It is humbling, and affirming, to celebrate how at St. Andrew’s Kingston we are being strengthened by members who come to us filled with Christian faith from Ghana and Korea and Indonesia and other cultures and nations.
Mission is particularly on our minds and upon our hearts this month.
Each week this autumn we have received on Sunday morning consecutive portions of a paper by the Committee on Church Doctrine entitled ‘Living God’s Mission Today’. The point these paragraphs make is that it is all God’s mission, not ours. It is God who is at work in this world for healing and justice and hope. We are blessed when we participate in God’s mission. By standing with our Living Lord in this world, we allow the love and life of God to flow into and through us to others. And often, as in a penitentiary and a congregation, we can feel the love and life of God flow into us from others!
This Sunday morning we welcome Lucie Howell of Mustard Seed Canada to tell us about the work being supported in Asia in the name of Christ. Join us if you are in the area. There is a nursery for infants and a programme for children during the service. Clergy Street remains closed, but there should be walkways providing entrance to the church, and the public parking lot behind the church off Queen Street offers free parking as well as neighbouring streets. There is an accessible door (and washroom) available off Princess Street to the west side of the sanctuary.