Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The Surprising Work of the Holy Spirit
Many of my regular readers will know that Ruth and I headed away for five weeks following my retirement, driving to the province of Newfoundland with kayaks atop our vehicle. We began ministry there in 1980, our son Isaac was born there, and we fell in love with the raw landscape on the edge of the continent. We spent four weeks in a rented house on Change Islands, the modest sibling living alongside the rock star of the moment, Fogo Island.
We visited friends in one of the communities I served along the way and had an opportunity to meet the current minister who has been there three years, with his family. He, his wife and three daughters -- Grace, Joyce and Rejoice (really!) have adjusted remarkably well given that they came directly from the African nation of Zimbabwe. We came to Carmanville from Toronto, which might as well have been Zimbabwe 37 years ago.
The current pastor greeted me warmly when we rolled up to the manse and commented that I had opened the door for minister's from "away." This was generous credit, given that he is black and speaks excellent but accented English. He has cheerfully kicked the door off its hinges! Yet we heard from folk that he is much loved and widely accepted. Given the occasionally thinly veiled, and sometimes blatant, resistance to a mainlander decades ago this is refreshing news.
People can change, even though the change might be gradual and the result of necessity. The five congregations I served on this pastoral charge are now three, the multitudes of children are now a handful, and there is an awareness that the aging congregations may not have much life left. But the acceptance of their pastor and the gifts he and his family bring to these folk is the Holy Spirit at work, it seems to me.