Yesterday we celebrated Parkview’s 95th Anniversary Sunday! How strange – again – to be at home for this very special celebration Sunday. Normally, we would have had special music, choir anthems, a fellowship time after church with a potluck lunch, and we would have celebrated all these special years of Parkview United Church’s life! How special to continue as a church presence here in our beautiful city of Stratford.
If I asked church members what wisdom would they like to share with one another to express our church’s life, I wonder what people would say? I’m sure they would value #1 our Christian faith together – that is truly the “glue” which holds us together as a church body – and I know that our church family would value #2 that one word – family. People come faithfully to church every week, or as often as they can, because they feel a part of this church family. It is an extension of their own personal family at home. A healthy church family is a warm, inviting place where you feel you belong, a place which includes you despite your age, your gender, your status, culture or financial well-being. And despite the fact that COVID-19 is keeping us apart in our worship, we still strongly feel we are a part of our church family. We sense a strong connection with each other despite the fact that we’re not seeing each other, and we feel a strong commitment to the welfare of Parkview United Church.
I read a story recently about a mother whose children and grandchildren came to visit from “out of state” – quite a distance away – and they stayed for a week! This was obviously before the Coronavirus and isolation hit us! The mom talks about noticing how each person had different habits and activities throughout the day. She noticed how some checked their phones frequently, some went outside at regular times for fresh air or exercise, the children had certain playtimes, some people liked to snack between meals, some liked to help cook, or some preferred the clean-up, and the mom says: “I spent more time than usual washing dishes!” She was coping with her large family, and when we equate this story to our large church family, we all have our different personalities, too, and we all have our different likes and dislikes, as well. And yet, like the mom’s family, when we all come together, it is the same sense of camaraderie – we join in, pitch in, share our time and efforts together, and we are committed to the welfare of our family (despite individual differences) because we know that the over-all welfare of our church is what is paramount. I think those who would share their wisdom about the many years of Parkview’s life would tell us to value one another, be kind to one another, bear one another’s burdens, and seek the general, over-all goodwill of all. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression: “Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity.”
The mom in the story ends by saying: “If we were to read our Bible or pray as much as we do other things throughout the day, we could draw nearer and nearer to God. I decided that I would pray whenever I did the dishes. I suggested to my children and grandchildren that they say a quick prayer every time they reach for a snack, for their phone, for a toy, or when they step outside for a breath of fresh air. Scripture reminds us that when we pray continually and draw near to God, God will draw near to us.”
And this sounds like very good wisdom for our church family. Shall we try it?
Happy 95th Anniversary, Parkview United Church! We’re not together in the sanctuary, but we’re together in our hearts and love for each other. This song and video says it all – I think you’re wonderful! Sending love and best wishes, and please continue to stay safe and keep well!
Blessings, Rev. Mary
Here’s the video!