i’m jane kelso winter and this is my husband charlie. we’re going to take a few moments to tell you why we think Hillhurst United is a one-of-a kind community and really worth putting your heart and soul into.
charlie and i were absolutely drawn here to hillhurst. we didn’t know it at the time of course. we first came on a christmas eve and heard this bouncy tigger of a guy speaking from the altar. we surely didn’t think he was the minister. - but the message resonated with us and since then we have never wanted to be away.
we have lived in calgary almost four years but are most recently from houston, texas and there’s a saying we have down there -- similar to the belt buckle one becky and terry rock talked about a couple weeks ago which said “Not born in texas but got here as fast as i could.” and it says “texas: it’s like a whole ‘nother country.”
both apply to hillhurst. this place is like a whole other country and if you have been drawn here (and believe me - you were) and you don’t decide to take up permanent residence and truly invest here.. you may be just wandering the countryside aimlessly (like 40 days and 40 nights in the desert) always seeking the spiritual home that is right here in your own backyard.
why do you need a faith community. well, when tragedy strikes, and as john says, “shhhhtufff happens”, These are the people you will want to have ready to hand you God’s toilet paper.
most of you know that our youngest son kelsey died about a month and a half ago. seems like just yesterday to us. what you might not be aware of is how extraordinarily this church family was there and is there for us... in the simplest of ways.. the ways that sustain you in your darkest hour.
here’s a graphic illustration of what we mean by “being there.” if you would please stand when i call your name and remain standing please.
it’s anna and john pentland and hillary higgins who came straight to our house within minutes of hearing about kelsey --to sit right by us as we cried and had to call our family and to put cooling hands on our foreheads.
it’s my soul sister shelagh who took the day off work and had me over to her house the very next morning after the terrible news and held me tight saying the healing words, “Jane, you were a great mom and I know kelsey loved you.”
it’s bigheaded, i mean bigHEarted Brent and Hugh who invited Hillhurst United folks over for what turned into a kind of Irish wake before we had to leave for the service in Houston; folks who boldly stepped into the wilderness of our grief with us and said, “we’ll be HERE for you” and meant it.
it’s marsha mah poy - the make-everything-happen-marsha who gave us odd tidbits of advice at just the right moment and joanne anquist who came through with an uplifting and just-right song for kelsey’s service - sounds like a small thing but it wasn’t.
it’s Bryce Paton who tried mightily to get on a plane to Houston (and when he couldn’t - he and barb (and others) made a donation to the Journey fund in kelsey’s memory. )
it’s Lea Meadows who wrote a sympathy note starting off with “i have no idea what to say” and then wrote a full page of incredibly comforting words.
it’s Judy Presber who brought over delicious chicken soup and then took me out for a long walk, long listening and a wee bit of shopping?
it’s the lindberg family who aren’t here today but who had us over for dinner, even though their own son, riley, is having worrisome health issues.
it’s murray and deb who invited us to go to a Montana cabin retreat.
and jan langille who wrote a very tenderhearted and reassuring email
it’s two of the best listeners on the planet: jill baker and darlene bell who have lent an ear for hours as i try to process.
it’s darlene’s daughter caitlin at dalhousie univ. in nova scotia who became friends with kels during his visits here and who is getting a really cool tattoo in his honor.
it’s our neighbor and pew-mate reg sauve and his friend ed who made gourmet meals to soothe our tired souls and fatten us up.
and one of the biggest hearted women in the tiniest body, Rose Larkham who lost her own beloved grandson, Jordan, recently, but who donated flowers for the sanctuary in our son’s name.
it’s cherryl, don, dan and molly wares who invited us and Kelsey’s visiting grandmother to come over for Easter Dinner so we could be with family. and molly who calls nearly every day just to let us know she cares.
it’s my dear friend janice and her son ian who gives the best 8- year old hugs around
and it’s marie benedict and her 7 year old twins orla and maeve (and friend rory) who give ian a run for his money in the hug department.
It’s all of you who came to the simultaneous service held by bill phipps here in these 100 year old pews while John presided over kelsey’s memorial in Houston. some of you might even have sat in the same pew kelsey sat in on christmas eve.
it’s lisa macbeth and dale nichol who made a beautiful photo collage of the service and marcia amaral who is helping us with our photos.
it’s the italian sized compassion of carmela diflumeri who asks “it’s mother’s day soon, how can we help you through that?”
God is in the consoling hugs from becky rock, valerie kangles, jenn howat, frieda, laurie shea, chris and fay lapointe, carolyn pogue, aurora hamilton, elaine friedt, judy archer, cheryl hayduk, patti and barb robertson, and maren wilson. It’s in the tear-filled eyes of carol chapman who has been through a similar wilderness and offer shoulders to lean on.
If you’re looking to be in the presence of God... God is in Cal and Leanne Malhiot’s shoulder squeeze from the pew behind us, Alice’s “I’m sorry”, Lucretia’s knowing glance, and Rhonda - my partner in crime at the gala - and sweet thelma, and dianne and frank, fay and chris lapointe, roberta and gord gunther, and sherry philpott and my look-alike in the choir alison mcpherson, and the incredible solace of the words of lawrence moon and the prayers of his wife evelyn, .helen miner, and sunday school sharlene and wally and Donna Dennomee and all in the prayer circle..oh my gosh i know i’ve missed so many.
but do you get it? do you get it? if you try to develop these kind of relationships AFTER you’re in need, it might be too late. they are life GIVING and life long. they can not be bought but you must BUY in, in order to receive.
It doesn’t have to be money, - there are a 1001 ways you can BUY in with your time and talent. you can help big a stage, you can help with communion, with planning worship, with stuffing envelopes, with helping @ sunday school or in the nursery or making lunch, or Inn From the Cold or backstage at the spring musical. but perhaps for some of us our actionable faith ALSO takes the form of making the biggest gift we could ever think of giving to a church - the next 100 years’ legacy. a gift which insures that this building can house all those who want to be with us on our journey..whoever they are, wherever they’re at.
could we have a profound impact on someone’s life just by continuing to open our doors...by drawing the circle a little wider? ...by being here where we want to be anyway and expanding our vision...our space?
it’s not just about - to paraphrase John F. Kennedy, “what can my church do for me?” it’s, “what can i do for my church?” Truly. This is why.
when you are the one in need, it/we will be there for you. God will be there for you.
You will be able to hear His voice.
He will speak through the faithful actions of your friends - this community here.
God is in the threads between us.
He is the Web of life.
This is why we support the Journey Project and I urge you to look deep into your heart and ask yourself: How do I put my faith into action? for that’s what faith is.. living out loud what you believe. ..
there are dedicated people right here at this church who are putting in texas-sized hours so that this church can be more than just these 4 walls to house us on a sunday for an hour. this is a 7- day a week church and if we practice that live-out-loud texas/ alberta-sized hospitality.... It will come back to you many-fold like it has come back to us.
one last thing is that if you are here today and you are troubled beyond what you think you can handle, reach out. there is help as close as the hand next to you.