Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Stewardship Witness Talk by Carolyn O'Brien Nov 19th, 2017

Stewardship notes:  Reflections from a ‘Rooky’
Thank you Tim.

Well, this week had been full of dread having to follow the eloquent words of David Smith!

As I am just beginning my third year at St. Margaret’s, it has been interesting to reflect on the first two years here.

Like David, I am not always present for the nine o’clock service, but if we are in town, I am here.  Wasn’t I so lucky to have had him as a professor?

I am not new to the Anglican Church.  Here is a bit of background.  Having been born in 1951, I am a Boomer. (Apparently, I have 2.5 children, 1.5 station wagons, and a dog or cat or both.)  I have lived in Edmonton all my life, and grew up in St. John the Evangelist parish, which is now the Strathcona Seniors’ Centre. I loved going to church with my family, Sunday school, brownies and guides, all in the same building.  You may find this hard to believe but I have only lived in four homes in my 66 years.  In my 20’s, due to marriage, I joined the Roman Catholic Church, where I spent the next 40 years.  During this time, I stayed home with the three children for nine years, and taught for Edmonton Catholic Schools.  I loved teaching.  These last few years, as circumstances changed, I felt a yearning to return to the Anglican Church.

How did I find St. Margaret’s?
Having always been known as ‘Cautious Carolyn’, it was most unusual for me to attend that first Sunday at St. Margaret’s, not even having told any member of my family. Passing it on Ellerslie Road many times, I decided to go in.

To my complete surprise, someone recognized me from the golf course.  That person was Borden, who came right over and welcomed me.  God had led me here, I was certain. Months ago, Tim spoke about the reasons why people attend Church.  He mentioned four main reasons then, all of which seemed to resonate with me.   Since that first Sunday, I have recognized others as well, including David. Sally and others made me feel at home.  The tranquil, peaceful, intimate atmosphere of the nine o’clock service appeals to my soul.  After a busy week, it is a privilege to come and be able to reflect and concentrate prayers on friends and family who are struggling, as well as those for whom we pray at St. Margaret’s.

However, the most import aspect of this gathering, for me, is the learning aspect.  My youngest son, David, has intellectual challenges but is often most profound.  Speaking about my deceased Godmother, who had spent many Sunday dinners with us after her husband had passed away, and was a clever woman,  judge and author, David said ‘Mom I miss Auntie Marjorie, because every time she came for dinner, I learned something’. (Of note is this, that at over the years before her death, she quietly gave away all of her money to charity, which drove Revenue Canada bonkers!)  That is how I feel each and every Sunday at St Margarets.   
  
In Education, we talk about Life Long Learning.  The quiet atmosphere here at St. Margaret’s allows one to be able to hear clearly the Word of God, and absorb Tim’s sermons about it, without distractions.  Maybe we don’t need to talk a lot afterwards. Maybe it is part of the serenity here that wants us to be reflective.  We all know people who are always on SEND instead of RECEIVE.  When one was younger at church, there were so many distractions, including minding ones’ own children.  Joining St. Margaret’s has been one of THE best decisions of my life.

With regard to Christian Generosity, I was somewhat surprised to find such a dearth of material.  One website had 419 references from scripture listed. Sorry Tim, I did not read them all!  Many quotes are familiar, ‘God loves a cheerful giver’, ‘tis better to give than receive’. ‘You reap what you sow’. ‘More seeds make more crops”. We know them all. And, one does not have to be a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffet in order to give.

The themes in those relevant passages of Scripture are clear.  God has given us everything that we have in life, including His Son.  If we wish to attempt to be more like God and Jesus, we need to give.  Last year the Stewardship program provided me with the impetus to give more.  The work of the Church must be supported and every bit helps.  In closing, I would cite the words of Horace, ‘the truly generous people are the truly wise people’, and of Mother Teresa, ‘A life not lived for others, is not a life”.

Thank you.

Carolyn O’Brien 

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