I’m reading The Secret Garden again. I must have read it every year since I was able to read, and my mum read it to me before that. For me the best part is when Mary and Dickon have the key to the walled garden and have been searching for an entrance. Then the wuthering Yorkshire wind blows some hanging ivy aside and there it is, The Door. The story then develops into their discovering all sort of magical things about the way nature works, friendship, animal care, engaging with community – in short – about love and its power to re-create. Man I love that book!
This week the theme seems to be “welcoming”. Everywhere I go I’m hearing stories about welcomes, or lack of them. A friend recently told me she attended a church for 18 months and in that time, not one single person said hello to her. She doesn’t go to church any more. Another friend drives from White Rock into Downtown Vancouver every Sunday because her sense of belonging there is so strong. Although I admire her commitment, I personally feel we need to take our talents and presence with us entirely when we move to a new community. Surely that’s why God is taking you there … because he needs you there. Not just your house, but you.
I’m noticing more and more how toxic to our community these ridiculously high house prices are. Most people who can afford to buy here move from Vancouver and continue to work in the city. That means their social circle is often there too, sometimes their kids attend schools in Vancouver too, and so sports teams and weekend socializing remains in town. That can’t be a good thing –but it underlines the importance of having a “home church”. I know lots of people who are “spiritual but not religious” who tell me they “worship anywhere – in a field or up a mountain – the whole world is my church”. Of course that can be true, and worship and prayer should be at all times and in all situations. BUT – the part of it that actually IS a church – is the church! We are supposed to be together. I detest the word fellowship when used as a verb (“let’s go and wear sandals and eat granola while fellowshipping”) but it is 100% necessary.
To return to The Secret Garden - when new people visit All Saints, they have a key – they are looking for a doorway – and YOU are it! “Wherever you are on life’s journey – you are welcome here”.
Next time you see someone you don’t recognize – go and say hello. If it turns out they’ve been coming to All Saints for 40 years and are offended you don’t know that – that’s your cue to get to know them. Please ask any newcomers to sign the Guest Book or to fill in the welcome card (in the foyer or the folders in the pews). I always write to people who do and let them know they are important to us and to this community.
Part the ivy – show the way … don’t let’s work so hard to renovate our building that we forget to build our church!
Well, Happy Friday - I’m off to hack away at weeds in my backyard with a great big machete thing (see what I did there – ivy removal etc – clever eh? It would have been a seamless transition if I didn't stop to write all this). Ah the joys of sublimation!
Oh and by the way, my father had a little plaque on his desk which summarizes a particular attitude. It read "Of course I would love to help you out! Which way did you come in?"