It’s the 20th of October as I write from State College, Pennsylvania. We’ve been here since the end of September, hoping to serve as support staff as our daughter and her husband, Brian, and their daughter, Hazel, welcome a new baby into their home. And now, a mother’s expectancy and labor are over, and this family is enriched and enlarged with the birth of a beautiful child, a little boy, Westley Jay.
That’s where we’ve been as you all accomplished your own labor ─ 49th year of the Heritage Festival. And, while we’ve been where we needed to be, I want to give thanks for all your energy, work, vision, planning, prayer, patience and cooperation that went into this tremendous labor of love. Folk have come from all over New England to help you make it happen, and folk have come from all over the world to enjoy it. The weather was perfect! Next year ─ once we’ve drawn a breath, caught up on sleep, and done some evaluation ─ we’ll look forward to the Fiftieth Annual Heritage Festival! We are richly blessed, indeed.
I’m grateful for what is made possible because of this holiday weekend’s work. It makes possible another year of ministry and mission in our community and beyond. And that is no small thing! It means a continuing opportunity to engage and serve families in our immediate neighborhood. It means a capacity to maintain and improve a beautiful, historic, and aging building in order that it might be an even more effective tool for ministry, mission and outreach.. It means having and supporting the resources for worship and prayer, for an outreach of caring.
We are richly blessed to be a serving people!
And yet, every labor takes its toll. It tries our patience, can weary our souls, sometimes strains relationships. Our worry for the world ─ its violence and terror ─ stand in such stark contrast to the life and work we hope to nurture here in our communities and homes. The purveyors of news, the pundits tell us of all that’s wrong. It is by faith that we seek to be people of hope, grounded in a love that will not let us go. And, it’s when I’m most weary that I’m in danger of forgetting Who it is who holds my life.
It is then that I, and perhaps you, too, need rest, re-creation, a time of Sabbath. Yes, we are in-deed richly blessed to be a people who serve. But we have to be open for the nurture and suste-nance offered by the Holy One who holds us beloved. To begin from a place of rest and grace is the gift offered us. But I’ll have to find it by making room for quiet, for being present in the plac-es where I am. I’ll have to nurture the listening ear, the quiet heart. Maybe you do, too.
If this is true for you ─ then imitate the saints in whose footsteps we follow. We’re called to fol-low the example of those whose courage and persistence were first nourished in prayer and con-templation ─ invited to imitate the Christ. Take time. Find quiet. Find the holiness you carry deep within. It is there. For when we find our rest in the Holy, then we’ll be fed to serve, enabled to enfold others with the grace which nourishes us.
And come, especially on the first Sunday of November for communion and a time to remember the saints and our loved ones now gone as we light candles remembering them. And, recall St. Augustine’s prayer: “may we enter into their unfinished labors in the sure and certain hope that thou wilt perfect all our labors.”
May you continue to experience moments of God’s presence in everything you do, wherever you may be. And, may you be lead in joy as you follow in the Way of the Risen Christ. In Christ’s peace,