Rhythm of Life
Rhythm of Life
After nearly 5 years of re-visioning and reshaping the direction of ministry at what was First Christian Reformed Church of St. Thomas, the ministry has found a new identity and hopefully a new goal to lead us into the future. On September 29th 2019, in a dedication service, we took on a new name, ‘The Junction’ A Church for Everyone. Zephyr Bloch-Jorgense once said, “Dedication involves making the space to let young ideas take hold; every tree was once a seed and every company was once an idea.” That was so true when in 1952, a group of young immigrant families from the Netherlands came to Canada in search of a better life. A life of opportunity. With hard work and much dedication the ideals of this young and vibrant generation gave birth to establishing a faith community here in our city. We became known as the ‘Dutch Church’ which was relevant to that time since most of the people were of that decent and the original language of Dutch was used during services; since English was not yet well-known. But time has changed that dynamic, and we have become a multi-cultural community and are proudly Canadian today.
Dedication has several meanings and one of those says, dedication is the willingness to give a lot of time and energy to something because it is important. Faith in God and service to him is very important in this community, and the variety of expressions of that faith has led us to a church that since then has grown and given birth to two more venues in St. Thomas, at Fellowship CRC on Elm St. and at Destination Church on Talbot St. Over the years our church became a family of believers that loved, supported, and offered a hope to many other people as well, reaching out into our community.
One example; in the early 1980s after war and oppression devastated Cambodia, and many from that country were searching for refuge, the people of our church responded and today we are proud of the Cambodian Fellowship that worships in our facility every Sunday. They too, worship in their own native language, but while they worship separately they are a valued and deeply loved part of our DNA as we share fellowship with them. Today we are again seeing an influx of refugees from various parts of the world coming to this great country, and St. Thomas, as a city is welcoming them and enfolding them. It is our prayer that they too can find a faith loving community connection here, and we are open to continuing to coming alongside of families in need.
With the passing of 67 years, First CRC has made many transitions. As any living organism knows, some of them painful, some of them with great joy. Each with sacrifice and hard work. One transition that we made was to rebrand our faith community as ‘The Junction’, deepening our commitment to be a place of connection where people from all walks of life can find a home in this place called St. Thomas. Which was what we celebrated on September 29th as a day of remembering and rejoicing. We open the day with a continental breakfast and an interactive worship service marking the memories of our past and refocusing our vision to a new future. After the service there was a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of our new name on the building, dedicating this building and our people, once again to the mission of God. We did that because we wanted to demonstrate openly our dream. Dedication by definition also means, “a ceremony in which a building, especially a religious building, is opened for use and its purpose is state.” But it is more than just a building; it is a passion to share as “A dedication is also a ceremony in which something is formally opened or made available to the public.”
This is our main dream. That although we have been identified as a cultural entity, and have reached out to cultural communities in need, and continue to be open to that; what we are seeking more than anything is to be truly Canadian and multi-cultural, while at the same time bringing each of us into one family and celebrating the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We welcome people from all walks of life to come and experience the love and joy that we have found in Christ Jesus. It is to our God that we dedicate our lives and mission to grow his kingdom here in this community. A seed God has planted in our hearts from the beginning and which he gathers his fruit today. But as in any harvest, that opens us to being re-seeded for the future. Therefore, we look forward with anticipation to that next chapter in our lives and continue to dream of the possibilities of what the next 50-75 years might look like. May God be praised.
My in-laws had a fifty-acre farm with beautiful sandy loam soil in Flamborough, Ontario, on which they grew ten acres of flowers on a rotating basis, leasing the rest to a local farmer. Early on summer mornings my father-in-law would take the truck, loaded with pails of gladioli that had been cut the previous day, to the wholesale market at the Ontario Food Terminal. The money they made in that short summertime had to last them all year.
On this particular day, my young sister-in-law had accompanied her dad to the market. Upon their return, she wandered to the back field where the rest of the family was hard at work.
“Guess how many pails of glads we sold today?” she asked.
“Fifty pails?” they said, hopefully.
“We sold nothing,” she blithely replied, in the light-hearted way of child with not a care in the world.
“Nothing?” incredulously, “All day?”
Most of the glads were too far open to sell wholesale the next day. There was nothing to do but to go through the bunches of flowers and try to save those few that still had unopened buds. Disconsolately, they went back to the barn to begin the job of sorting.
At the very moment, a woman drove up the long farm driveway. She pulled up to the barn, and inquired, with some desperation, whether she could buy some flowers, as the gladioli she had earlier bought for a wedding had not bloomed in time. She took all the opened flowers at full retail price – more than they would have received on the wholesale market. Happy and relieved, she sped off.
More than thirty years later, my mother-in-law still shook her head as she recounted the story, marveling how God provided that day for both their family and for the woman who just wanted to make a wedding day beautiful.
On Sat. May 25/19, the Junction kicked off its first event in the lovely, new foyer. The sun streamed through the large windows as approx. 35 women sat down to a delicious, hot breakfast. Tables were very pretty with bone china teacups, flowers and lots of food. After the meal, all were invited into the sanctuary for some praise and worship songs followed by our speaker Susan Memovich.
Susan is a lay pastor and also has training in the field of Thanatology which is the study of bereavement and grief. Her talk was entitled, Life, Love and Loss. Susan talked about the various types of grief and loss and how to cope with tragedies, death and dying. As Christian women, we were blessed and inspired by her talk on this very important subject.
Maybe you’ve heard this comedy routine - two actors are in a conversation that goes something like this:
“I just bought a farm.”
“No, that’s bad. Money was so tight; I had to rent out most of my land.”
“No, that’s good. I was able to buy some cattle with the money.”
“No, that’s bad. They all jumped the fence and ran away.”
“Oh, that’s bad.”
“No, that’s good. When the neighbours came out to help, I met my future wife.”
“Oh, that’s good” . . .
You could continue on, of course, because the story doesn’t end until the life of the storyteller is done. We live in a world of shifting shadows, and often further events change our perspective.
For much of my working career, I sat at my desk beside a monitor that charted the daily Chicago Board of Trade commodity prices. A farmer would put in a pricing and be jubilant if the market ticked up to his desired price – only to find, to his dismay, that the commodities market opened ten cents a bushel higher the next day. The same action that looked good one day didn’t look so good the next.
When the Pharisees of Jesus’ day saw a man carrying his mat on a Sabbath, they zeroed in on his perceived transgression – “that’s bad!” Even when they learn that he’s been healed after 38 years of paralysis, they did not have the compassion to appreciate this great miracle. We judge on a picture that’s very small in scale and we tend to go by mere appearances. Blinded and limited by legalism, the Pharisees never got to “that’s good!”
Jesus also relates a parable in which the owner tells his employees that the wheat and the weeds just can’t be separated until the harvest time without causing harm to the crop. Good and evil are now entwined, but some day that will come to an end, and only God will know how to disentangle them. The human story that began in the Garden of Eden with God seeing that “it was very good” will someday be concluded with a redeemed and restored universe.
And in the end we will all say, “that’s good!”
Our children are now all grown, but many years ago, we used to laugh about how, if my husband and I shared a hug in the kitchen, we would find ourselves suddenly attracting our small children and even the family dog from all over the house. They all wanted to be in on that charmed circle. There was always a way to include everyone!
God’s circle of love, too, is ever-expanding, rippling out and calling people from all tribes and nations and languages, a diverse group in character and abilities. I think about how this was only possible because Jesus, beloved only Son of his Father, “didn’t consider this equality as something to be grasped,” but in amazing love and humility turned and made a way for us to join that divine circle.
How attractive, how magnetic that circle can be for those in need of belonging and meaning in their own lives! God’s great love is not depleted through time and all kinds of circumstances. Over fifty years ago, caring Sunday School teachers gave me a plaque that brightly proclaimed “Love never faileth.” I still have it. The language is archaic, but the truth endures. When we will never run out, when we have so much, let’s open up all we have for others to share. Let’s include everyone who hungers to be part of a loving family of God. In the end, the joy is multiplied and all of us are enriched by it.