Finding God through Gratitude

When I am unsure about my faith or how to pray, I start with giving thanks.  Regardless of how difficult my life is, there is always something to be thankful for.

I am thankful for the coloured leaves, the last flowers, the first snow, the stars, and all the beauty of nature.

I am thankful for my church, the people that walk with me while demonstrating their faith. Being in the presence of such faithful people allows my own faith to stay strong.

I am thankful for the congregation that supported my children as they grew up, developing their faith and their skills in this special community.

I am thankful for the outreach activities that let our neighbors know that we are here; ready to embrace them as human beings.

And just as I appreciate everybody, I feel appreciated as well.  We are here for each other and thankful for each other.

And just like this a prayer becomes action, big or small.  I can be a steward of the environment and act responsibly, recycle, protect and support.  I can demonstrate my faith to others in actions or with my presence.  I can support the children of the congregation with praise, and engage with them and support their initiatives.  I can sew, I can greet, I can bring items for the food bank and I can support financially and spiritually those who initiate and maintain activities.  I can do many things even when I think I can do nothing.  My prayer of gratitude inspires action and encourages me to engage with others.  And in them I can see the face of God.  

Sabine George



Generosity changes lives


gen-er-os-i-ty – readiness or liberality in giving

Two weeks ago, in our Grace Moment, I talked about attending the memorial service for Torstein, a U of T professor who was especially generous with his time.  I witnessed a passionate and visceral outpouring of grief.  His readiness to share his time had profoundly touched his students and colleagues. 

Have you ever stopped to think about the individuals who have impacted your life through generosity?  It is an interesting exercise.  

Recently, I received an award and made a talk related to my professional career.  I wanted to acknowledge the contributions of a few of the many people who had assisted me along the way.  After much thought, I identified three long-term mentors who had generously shared their time, ideas, and thoughts, and mentioned them specially.  As well, I seriously considered acknowledging the contribution of Regis, a person I barely knew.  Regis was the marketing guru in our company, and the sponsor of the project I was leading as a new, young researcher, a project that was floundering.  In a review meeting, he was “generous” in sharing his frustration, emotions and legitimate concerns about how I was communicating and working with colleagues, i.e. he “raked me over the coals” about working together.  It was an embarrassing and humiliating experience.  However, Regis was right.  I took his berating to heart, rethinking my approach to people, realizing that more was to be gained by working together than separately, and I had to be responsible for insuring this happened.  This made all the difference.  

This month, we are being asked to express our generosity in a gentler fashion.  To pursue our outreach to children, youth and families within both our St. Philip’s community and the neighbouring community, the Council has decided to hire a part-time Learning and Engagement Coordinator to lead these efforts.   This is an ambitious plan.  Needless to say there will be additional expenses. These costs cannot be borne by the few, but through working and giving together, can be met by us, the many.  

Consider your 2019 commitment to St. Philips though a lens of generosity.  Generosity touches and changes lives. 

Sam Marcuson


On generosity

Generosity can mean different things.  It may be giving of your income, as part of your offering.  It can be giving of your time.  It can be sharing of your faith in the form of prayers, belief from others when I may not have it at times for myself.

All of you, the congregation and friends of St. Philip’s inspire me to be more generous:

1)    With my offerings, because of the important work that I know is done with the monies
2)    With my time because of how many of you do a large multiple of things for this church

Particularly, it’s what people offer up in terms of their time, because I personally see the benefit as do others, whether it’s flowers arranged beautifully at the altar, yummy treats at the Good News café, a fun event that you have taken the trouble to organize for our youth, or an inspiring musical piece that the bell choir rehearses and plays to the awe of all of us gathered here in this sanctuary.

That’s what St. Philip’s means to me and is just one of the reasons I so value this church in my life and I give to its sustainment.

The Bible tells about generosity many times.  The best I know is in Paul and Timothy’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians.  He’s talking about the Corinthian church giving faithfully to help a community of people whom they have never met.  Out of that comes probably the best words on generosity in the bible. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Generous people give to others, even when they differ from one another.  We see it in Luke 7:1-10, as a Gentile builds a Jewish synagogue! That’s the story of the centaurion who implored to have Christ heal his sick servant.  Who could have predicted such a donor for such a cause?

One of the things I value about St. Philip’s is the fact that we have adopted a vision statement that implicitly supports this. We practice hospitality of open hearts and open arms.  We unite with partners to make a difference in our neighbourhood.

So thank you.  Thank you for your generosity

And let’s remember this:

No one can help everyone with everything, but each of us can help someone, somehow.  Every bit is important and valued.

Eric Fergin


On vision

A hope or dream of the future. 

According to the dictionary, this might be a description of what St. Philip's would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future.  It is intended to serve as a clear guide for shoosing current and future courses of action.

60 years ago there was a vision shared by people of faith in this community.  That vision led to the extablishment of St. Philip's.  A place of community providing a place to worship, celebrate the sacraments, instruct both children and adults.  A centre for "telling the story", and acting on our concern and love for neighbours, far and near.  A place that welcomes all generations.

Over the years, many more gathered to become a part of that vision.  No vision can become a reality without commitment.  They gave of their time, talent, their prayers and their monetary gifts and with God's blessing, brought that vision to reality.

Time has passed.  It's now 2018:  we have changed; our neighbourhood has changed; our world has changed.  Our core values and vision for St. Philip's hasn't changed radically in 60 year, but it's always a good thing to re-evaluate, refresh, regroup and recommit.

Through Church Councils direction, we have a "new vision", a renewed focus on providing programs to children, young adults, families and connecting with near-neighbours.  To bring that vision alive requires your commitment.  A commitment of time, talent, prayer, and financial support.

On behalf of your church, I ask that you prayerfully consider the information provided in your stewardship envelope and be a part of keeping St. Philip's vision alive and well.

--Kathy Dragert


Of Loaves and Fishes

We bring the “loaves and fishes”…

Thinking back to when the idea of establishing a seasonal “Good Food Market” (GFM) was being shaped, I remember reflecting on the story of the boy with his loaves and fishes. It's a miraculous tale of how a young boy brought what little he had to Jesus and, somehow, those few loaves and fishes were multiplied to feed a large crowd. His meager lunch must have looked so pitiful. How could such an insignificant offering make any impact? The need was so great and yet this was all there was.

For me, this market felt like we too were bringing just a small offering before an unquenchable need and I too wondered how could this possibly be of any value? But the young boy's story continues. After Jesus gave thanks for what they had, not only was the entire crowd fed, but there were leftovers!

We've been through three summers now with the GFM and, oh, the stories I could tell! I could tell you of the families we met week after week in Capri Park. Or the volunteers who gave so generously and consistently over those 14 weeks each year. How we received funding from the Eastern Synod and government grants that allowed us to hire a student. But mostly, I would tell you of the conversations we had and the relationships we formed.

I don't know how the boy's loaves and fishes were multiplied in Jesus' day. But I can say as we have brought what we have, we have seen abundance and generosity from those around us. It truly is miraculous!

Perhaps that is the reason why we bring our own “loaves and fishes”. Even though the need is so great, as we bring in faith what we have, we see our generosity multiply. We see the work of our Heavenly Father who is eternal and who provides for our needs. So, this month, as we hear fresh stories from this community of God's provision, remember that what you bring, however small and insignificant, matters not for it is Christ who sees the heart and multiplies our offering.

Dave Pascoe, Volunteer with the Good Food Market