Beneath the hubbub of a modern parish church, a silent flow of care binds church members together in a ministry so natural it goes largely unnoticed. That ministry is the simple art of visiting.
Sometimes this ministry takes the form of a phone call to someone we haven’t seen for awhile, sometimes as a text or an email. Sometimes it means a drive to a seniors’ home or to someone shut in by illness. Every week, the altar flowers go to someone in need, or to someone who might be encouraged merely by being noticed. Every week, the clergy meet to coordinate their visits to those in need, or to those who have asked for our care.
A few years ago, when Clara King left us, we wondered how all the pastoral visiting would get done with only one priest on staff. But then it dawned on us that it would get done the way it always gets done—by church members caring for one another. So we surveyed how many such visitors there were, and we asked them simply to report in about how the person they visited was doing, and whether a visit from the clergy might be useful.
Jesus said that God’s people would be identified at the end of time as those who visited the sick, fed the hungry, clothed the naked—those who cared for one another. Two thousand years later it’s still true: we are a community grounded in care, and therefore in visiting.
The refugee family we are sponsoring has now experienced a taste of Canadian winter! Walking on ice is taking some adjustment but they remain positive and open to new experiences. They really enjoyed attending their first live hockey game as part of a birthday celebration last month. We hope to plan skating, tobogganing and cross-country skiing outings with them once winter returns. Both adults continue to dedicate themselves to their full time English studies which are going very well. On his own initiative, last month Khalil started part-time weekend work at a restaurant.
There are some significant expenses on the horizon for the New Year, most notably urgent dental work for which we’ve been told there is no IRCC health plan funding. This has been a common experience for many Syrian refugees and their sponsors. Your ongoing donations to help cover such extraordinary costs are appreciated.
NeST is always happy to welcome new team members, and the family is open and eager to make social connections to practice their English and build vocabulary. Contact Barb Driftmier if you’d like to be a part of the adventure either as a team member or making a more casual connection with the family.
Most people are now aware that there is no Christmas story. You knew this, right? There are only fragments drawn from various prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures, and unconnected stories pieced together from the gospels.
Those Hebrew prophecies were not actually referring to the birth of Jesus, and those gospel fragments contain details that differ wildly from each other. Not only that, but the earliest Christian witnesses-the apostle Paul and the author of the Gospel according to Mark-those closest to the time of Jesus’ birth-say nothing about it at all. So either they knew nothing about it, or they didn’t consider what they knew worth sharing.
But stitched together, these fragments create a grand myth we call the Christmas Story. Despite the unlikelihood that any of it actually happened, this story contains a deep and abiding truth, the hope of Christians throughout the ages: that God is born into our midst, and not as a powerful warlord; rather, as a defenseless baby.
Yet this changes everything, even the world itself. For this baby toppled the Roman Empire and, to this day, strikes fear in the hearts of despots and tyrants. We know that God resides in the corners of our own lives, requiring both our tender care of this divine presence, and also our strong reliance upon it in times of need.