Wisdom from above is . . . full of mercy and good fruits
We are entering our "Season of Heartfelt Thanks," when we ask the people of Good Shepherd to support us during the upcoming year. But, it's not just about the money, or even primarily about the money. It's about the ways that the people of Good Shepherd do the work God has given us to do to heal the world, to be an outpost of the Reign of God in this little corner of creation.
On February 1st, we heard from Sean McConnell, who works with Episcopal Relief and Development. He told us what a huge difference our gifts had made to the people who received the nets, chickens, pigs and cows that were purchased with the funds we sent.
On February 8th, Cindy Roehl started us off quoting from the psalm we read, that giving thanks and praise to God is a source of personal joy. She told us that health professionals are of the opinion that an "attitude of gratitude" is one key to keeping depression at bay. Giving heartfelt thanks lifts up ourselves and those around us.
Two people then stepped forward to respond to complete this statement: "I give heartfelt thanks to God for the Church of the Good Shepherd because . . . " Judith Auger spoke first. Judith and her husband, Nels, are from Canada and spend the winter in Dunedin. They have attended Good Shepherd since 2003, but became Associate Members of the parish as soon as the Vestry created the classification last year. Judith spoke movingly about their sense of belonging, the joy they get from singing in the choir and participating in the life of the congregation, and staying connected by phone, email and the web site when they are in Canada for the summer. They give thanks to God because Good Shepherd gives them a way to praise him with joy, and be in deep and wonderful relationships with other people in the church.
Second to speak was Bill Raymond. He and his wife, Diana, began to attend late in 2012 when they moved to the area, and joined the parish as regular members shortly thereafter. Bill had been away for church for over 10 years after the tragic death of his son, Paul. Bill's return to church was somewhat reluctant at first, but touched everyone's heart when he spoke of the peace, healing and caring he encountered here. He also related that God had told him that there were things he wanted Bill to do, that it was time to come home so he could get going with doing them, and that Good Shepherd was the place from which he would be doing them. "I'm home now," concluded Bill, "and those are the reasons I love Good Shepherd and give thanks to God."
Stay tuned for more powerful witness talks next week.