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A Message from Rev. Maya Landell (October 9, 2020)

Dear Friends,

It’s Friday of the Thanksgiving weekend, and many of our plans are changed as we honour the health care advisory in the midst of this pandemic to gather physically with only members of our immediate household.

Gratitude lingers following the Annual Meeting with thanks for the leaders who have served faithfully and are transitioning out of their current roles: Helen Delaney, Treasurer; Janet Wells, M&P Chair; and Wendy Sexsmith, Church Council Chair.

Newness is in the air as a new council prepares to meet for the first time on October 21, and as three new trustees begin their terms: Jackie Carter, John Leavitt and Laura Johston.

I feel so grateful that the next few weeks are being set aside to mark a season of gratitude and hospitality. I hope you didn’t miss Robert Picard’s artistry and humour in the launch video for the final chapter of the Kitchen Fundraising Campaign. It is good to laugh together, for laughter opens us to hear the stories of the past, present and future of our hospitality ministry that Isla Grady has been praying and writing down for us to experience over the next few weeks.

Abram and Sarai were willing to step off the map because of true faith, and we are able to celebrate this chapter of the hospitality ministry because our leaders were willing to step off the map in faith. Look for more on this campaign each Thursday in October leading up to our 202nd anniversary on October 25, 2020.

Earlier this week I finished reading the next Islington Reads Book Club choice: The Wide Circumference of Love. It is a powerful book with so many themes to discuss. We will get a chance to meet the author, Marita Golden, as we gather via Zoom on October 20 for the next book club discussion. It’s not to be missed!

This title, “The Wide Circumference of Love,” is also a good image for keeping people safe, each of us only going out when essential, wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, not gathering indoors. It’s a way to show love and gratitude for those in our community. And with Ontario hitting a record high number of COVID cases today, and the provincial government announcing modified Phase 2 restrictions effective this Sunday, we need to show this love more than ever.

This Sunday we will meet Abraham and his son Isaac (whose name means laughter) in Chapter 7: “It’s Not too Late.” We will look for the ways God gives in the “binding of Isaac story” — a tale that requires God-wrestling.

We have much to be thankful for. Gratitude is not about comparing our situation with that of others; it’s about noticing the little blessings, the reminders that we are part of God’s big blessing and the intention for the whole world to be blessed (not with stuff, wealth, privilege or power, but) with abundance in life and love.

Thank you all for your generosity and continued support, as we do what we can, where we are, with what we have, with Christ’s strength.

I’d like to leave you with a prayer Elsa van Vleit shared in one of our council meetings:

Prayer of Thanksgiving

We thank you, O God for your love for us.
Love that reaches out to accept us, wherever we are, whoever we are.
Love that demands a lot, but at the same time, somehow, amazingly, enables us to meet those demands.
Love that reassures, affirms, prompts, challenges, and overwhelms us with the completeness of its response.
Help us, your people, held within the security of your love, to risk showing that same love to others.
May our love, too, be known for its abundance, its readiness to speak out, and its healing power.
– Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand

P.S. We’ve heard from Michelle Reece, our Children and Families Ministry Co-ordinator, and she is safely volunteering in Greece. Michelle is volunteering for the next three months with Refugee4Refugees is a non-governmental organization, with no political, religious, or ethnic affiliation that works at the front line of the humanitarian crisis in Greece. God’s peace and love surround her as well as Allison Whiting and Amy Crawford who have been holding Sunday space for our children and families.