What better way to start a Thanksgiving letter than by quoting the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:3 “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Indeed there are many I know and I count myself among them who give thanks and pray in such a way when they remember this family of churches.
I am thankful that we now own and are not renting our Calgary Administrative Office which frees up over a hundred and 30 thousand dollars for ministry elsewhere. I am thankful for this last summer season of residential and non-residential camps and growing numbers of campers. I am thankful for the Board and staff that serve us as a family of churches. I am particularly grateful for Laura Nelson in her role of President of the CBWC and those involved in the review and transition for this next season of our life together.
I am particularly thankful for an experience that I had last night at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Victoria, BC, where I was part of a couple of events that really showed the breadth of our witness at CBWC. Every Tuesday night during the school term at University of Victoria a free meal is offered to between 375 and 400 students. It is a meal offered in the name of Christ with no strings or obligations attached. It was started by Betty Risto 13 years ago. The food is amazing. Over the last 11 years certain meals stand out for me; Asquith, SK, potluck being one of them. However, this is weekly faire. Roast ham, shepherds pie, lentil vegetarian, roasted vegetables (to perfection I might add), fresh salad, and dessert. Emmanuel and friends greet the stranger. Later in the evening it was an amazing sight when Catherine Morris (who along with her husband Paul Scambler coordinates an army of 70-80 volunteers weekly to produce the dinner) created a time to speak of First Nations concerns. It was during that time that I had cause to give thanks for 3 other things. May they be my celebrations for Thanksgiving this year…
The first is thanksgiving that the discussion around the “Doctrine of Discovery” was patient, respectful, and a true reflection of the fruit of the Spirit.
Secondly, the unconditional nature of the welcome at Emmanuel’s dinner speaks to us of the radical hospitality of Jesus.
Finally, the testimony of a woman who asked for the microphone after dinner. To my knowledge she is not part of the church. She came to the University of Victoria a year ago. She thanked the church for the meals they offer students including herself but she wanted to share how she heard of the church. An atheist friend of hers said to her, “You’ve got to go for dinner at Emmanuel Baptist. They are a people who live the book.” I am thankful for the behavior that I am called to in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”). I am thankful when people treat me in that way and I long to do the same. I am the thankful recipient of hospitality and I saw it unfold in a crowded, boisterous, and happy gymnasium full of over 400 people. I trust that people will say of me and you, my friend the reader, and of our churches, “You should go see those folk: they live the book”.