My dear Sisters and Brothers,
As I sit to write this letter my mind is drawn to think of all that I have to thank God for. This past year has been a year of many blessings, challenges and opportunities for me both personally and professionally. Primarily I must offer up to God my heartfelt thanksgivings for the healthy birth and beginning of Magdalene’s life. Wendy Faye and I have taken much delight to watch our daughter begin to develop into her own person. Magdalene is the joy of our lives and the apple of my eye. I now know what it is that God must have felt when he looked upon His Son and said, “This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
The support that this parish has shown us as we begin our lives as parents has been joyous to say the least. To you all who have sent cards, letters, gifts, food, etc. you have our gratitude and appreciation. God has blessed us with a community that rallies around our children and that is truly a great gift to give.
Professionally, I must give thanks for the new space that I am able to use for an office which has been graciously donated to us by the Buchanan Memorial Hospital. As I said in my letter of announcement I am thankful to the Facility Manager for making this opportunity possible. Many people have already made use of this opportunity and I look forward to many more such visits in the future. Also, this space has been of great value to me as a place for me to do the work that a priest must do. Writing sermons, reading and studying scripture, reading for on-going education, counselling people, prayer and meditation, preparation for Sunday services, administration and a host of other duties are what I get up to while I am in the office. Not to mention that it is good to have a more permanent spiritual presence in our little hospital. Please feel free to drop by during my posted office hours for a chat, you are all welcome. All of these things are blessings to be thankful for.
The challenges that have been before me – and that I thank God for – have been many and varied. The large number of funerals over that last few months have been very emotional times for our parish. The loss of a loved one is not always seen as a time of thanksgiving but for us who believe in the resurrection we can give thanks that their souls are living in the nearer presence of God where all is light and joy.
I have also been challenged, by our bishops, to be more involved in the wider church. I have let slide my obligations to our diocese and I must set aside more time to share. As a priest of the church I am called and obligated, and have vowed, to “take my place in the councils of the church” and am required by our bishop to offer myself upon at least one diocesan committee. While I am currently a member of the Youth Ministry Sub-Committee I have not attended a meeting in well over a year and this is not acceptable. I will be organizing my time in such a way that a bimonthly trip to those meetings will be a priority.
Thus I have many things to be thankful for and I do my best to express my thanks to God in what ways I can. Primarily I have come to see the blessings in offering back to God a portion of what He has blessed me with through my offering of money, to our parish and to our diocese. Giving back to God through a proportional amount of what has been given to me has been a source of great satisfaction and fulfillment in my life. I have found that the sacrifice of tithing has been worth the money.
As your priest, I would be quite remiss if I did not urge you all to give some serious thought to how it is that you give back to God in thanksgiving. Do you give back merely as an after thought or do you offer a true sacrifice to God in thanks for all that He has provided you? For the lobster, the crab, the cod and all of the other lucrative fishing stocks were not sown in the oceans by human hands they are placed there by the grace of God and we profit from those gifts. Thus it is only natural, and every Christians’ duty, that we should offer back a considered percentage of what it is that God has given us.
Our parish could be a shining light in our diocese if we are all prepared to make a sacrifice to God and offer a true proportion of what it is that He has given us. We often feel very isolated here in this part of the world but we need to feel that way if we are willing to make the effort. The very fact that our Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinator chose our parish to make his first official visit shows us that we are a vital part of the Diocese. The funds that some of you have contributed to the Leap for Faith Capitol Campaign are being put to good use and are currently at work for your benefit and for the benefit of our parish.
Always remember, Abel gave his very best back to God in a sacrifice of thanksgiving and he was blessed. Cain gave back to God the thoughtless scraps of his table and he was accursed. So too can we all be blessed when we make a sacrifice and give our very best in the faith that God will bless us further.
As you all consider how it is that you give I urge you to keep before you to whom we owe all that we have, all that we are, and all that we shall be. As a way of motivation I have attached a chart that you should all pay close attention to. This chart is meant to be a tool to help you prayerfully, thankfully and faithfully decided on how it is that you give. I urge you all to be prayerful, thankful, faithful witnesses of the God from whom all good things flow.
Wendy Faye and Magdalene join with me in wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving. May it be filled with plenteousness, joy and the blessings of our God.
With God’s blessings, I am,
The Reverend M. Elliott Siteman