Rev’d Janet’s Thanksgiving Letter to St. John’s

A VERY BLESSED AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2018 to you and all your family and friends, from St. John’s Anglican Church, St. Thomas and Canon Janet Lynall.,  We hope you can join us for our Harvest Festival Service Sunday October 7 at 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. and welcome you to our Community Thanksgiving Table (free will offering only) for a full traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings Monday Oct. 8, 2 – 4 p.m. hosted by our Outreach team.

 “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease”  Genesis 8.22 “A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away”  Proverbs 13.23

I have this unusual teapot that is very old.  It belonged to my grandmother and looks exactly like this one. It was really old then, and it no longer safely holds tea unless you don’t mind rust!  It is rare only in that most were long ago discarded.  It is the equivalent of what we have sometimes called the dreaded “left over meal” – a bit of this and a bit of that to clear the fridge.  “End of the Day” graniteware gets its name from the simple practice of the graniteware factory in the late 19thcentury, at the end of the day, using whatever colours were available to decorate their wares.  Thus, various colour combinations can be found – the combinations are surprisingly beautiful and all one of a kind, and unrepeatable, and this is now recognized and valued but at the time, not so much.

A critical step in living a just life is appreciating that every human being is absolutely unique and an unrepeatable mix of emotional, spiritual and physical “colours’.  Each person is created to live well, love and be loved, plant, produce, harvest and share their bounty.  When this happens, God is glorified.  When this doesn’t, it is an injustice, in that beauty, life and goodness are lost.  At autumn harvest time we seem especially mindful of our blessings, what we have received, what we can give, and what others have given us.  We ask for those who suffer to have relief and a harvest of hope for a better day, knowing many do not receive the just fruits of their labours, or even an opportunity to labour.  It is painful to consider the loss to the world when children cannot bloom, when the harvest is not theirs to choose or enjoy. 

Some things are slow to change, an estimated 300,000 child soldiers are exploited each day in armed conflict around the world with a total of over 6 million child war casualties worldwide. Ishmael Baeh was 11 when his country Sierra Leone, fell  into brutal civil war.  At 12 he was separated from his family and abducted by a militia government that trained him to kill, until it became, he says, “as easy as drinking water”. Children serve as combatants, porters, spies, prostitutes and human mine detectors. If they survive, they live with post traumatic stress disorders.  It matters for us to know our love, our resources and our advocacy power is needed, and a way we express gratitude to God for the freedoms, homes and food and love we have received.  God’s grace will carry us wherever we need to go.  For us at St. John’s, that means we carry our sisters and brothers to safe havens and harvests they can enjoy without fear. The Anglican Church worked with UNICEF to intervene and took Ishmael Baeh and other children soldiers away from their commander offering rehabilitation and a life free from guns. 

Yet the world will always hold pain, as seen in the face of this 15 year old boy soldier in World War 2.  We exist at St. John’s and as children of God, to have a voice, hands and feet and hearts that offer and work, for hopeful change, comfort and healing of the deep wounds in our world, our neighbours and our own lives. For each one of us I pray for a life allowed to bloom, whether the harvest is sparse or bountiful, take heart, and walk the path before you with God whose breath is taken away, with your beauty. Jesus tender love is saving you.  Grace is coming to you, even if you are running out of patience, don’t doubt it is for you.  Don’t run away from it!  You are worthy of grace and the abundance of the harvest.  God will help you gather it!

My mother’s funeral was yesterday, and her family gave thanks for a woman, who knew she was blessed.  She would no doubt tell you, her harvest remains, in her and in us, and with God, and this is God’s will for all children of the earth.  May God bless you and the beautiful work of St. John’s family to bring healing and hope into lives.  When all people and all children are able to delight in the harvest, when the need for child soldiers and child labourers ceases to exist, and every youth knows life is good and they are good and God indeed loves them, then our work will be done. Until then, let us clear this path, and share our stories of harvests lost and harvests found, harvests gleamed, shared and celebrated. Receive your blessings, receive the love and grace that gets us through the rough times, and tell the people in your life that you are grateful for what they mean to you.