Dear Family of St John’s

I used to ask my sons a specific question quite often when they were small.  “What’s the magic word?” I’m sure that you will all know the answer to that question!  It’s an answer they learnt very quickly.  It’s also one that their friends learned pretty quickly too, because they were also asked this question!  The ‘magic word’, in case anyone needs a reminder, is ‘please’.  

If you want something, you have to ask for it using the word ‘please’. Even Oliver Twist knew this, “Please sir, I want some more.”  Although, my boys never received the response that poor Oliver did.  More???

The word ‘please’ has a very close friend.  They go hand-in-hand, if you like.  I don’t believe they like being separated.  Some might say they’re bosom-buddies! If this close friend is forgotten once you have received what you asked for, a reminder to bring them into the conversation is to ask, ‘what do we say?’

Once again, my boys – and their friends – learnt this response very quickly.  Thank You!

Please and Thank You.  Words that aren’t used as often as they should be, particularly ‘thank you’. And yet we have so much to give thanks for.

We ask God to help us in so many different ways: to provide for our needs, to comfort us and give us strength, to show us what path to take, and to give us wisdom.  We ask Him for so much.  But, I don’t believe we say ‘thank you’ as often as we say ‘please’.  

This weekend we celebrate our Patronal Service.  We acknowledge and give thanks for the fact that St John the Baptist Anglican Church has been ministering to people from the corner of 8th Avenue and Church Road, Walmer, for 142 years.  

I started trying to work out how many people might have attended services here in the last 142 years and quickly gave up.  Perhaps I’ll ask our archivists to sort through some of our old records and get those statistics for us.  I’d love to know how many people were married from here, how many baptised and confirmed.  How many people were buried from our parish.  How many people received communion from the Lord’s Table in our parish.

Some of these numbers we could access and put down on paper.  But we couldn’t tell how many people came to know the Lord within the walls of these buildings, and took that knowledge and love with them to spread far beyond our little corner in Walmer.  We couldn’t know how many people were affected by the prayers offered for them within our church by those who trusted in the Lord.  We couldn’t know how many people’s lives were changed because of the assistance they received through the hundreds of outreach projects that have been conducted over the years.  

These are numbers that we can never know.  But, God knows.  God has equipped those who have served, worshipped, and ministered in this place for the last 142 years.  He has been the source of all that we have had to give – whether that was a food parcel, or love and care. It has all come from Him.  Everything we continue to have and give, comes from Him.  

Have we said, ‘Thank You’? Have we said it enough? I suspect we could say it more.  

I’d like to challenge each person who is reading this, to spend a few moments in quiet.  Get out a pen and piece of paper, or your electronic device of choice, and start writing what you have to be thankful for.  Make a list.  I encourage you to look at the little things as much as the big ones.  You will probably need another piece of paper!

And then, spend some time thanking God for each of those things on your list.  It all comes from Him.  

Thank you, Lord, for all that You are, all that You have given me, all that You have done for me.  Thank You!

With love

Your friend and rector