Today we celebrate our patron saint, St. Martin. In thinking of this day I couldn’t help but also think about the people past and present who have helped shape our parish community into the church we are today. So many people, names and faces who have past through our doors for a short while or a lifetime. In part I have been thinking about many of these people because of last week when we with the world remembered Remembrance Day and commemorated the 100 year anniversary since Armistice. There is Fr. Perrin’s entry in the Vestry Book marking the occasion right here at St. Martin’s. We were already here in North Vancouver - called to carry out God’s Mission in the world. A simple entry in a vestry book, marks a momentous event in the world. We were here. We came from where we were living our daily lives at home, work, the grocery store and we gathered here as a community of faithful to celebrate the Eucharist and provide witness to global events. I wander what that service was like. I wonder what Fr. Perrin was thinking on that particular day and the days before. I wonder who was there with him. I wonder too what the people of St. Martin’s were thinking and feeling as they gathered to join their priest in celebrating the Eucharist. What were their fears, concerns, hopes and dreams?
The amazing thing is that we were not the only ones all those years ago. Churches and religious houses of prayer in the Lower Mainland, across Canada and around the world were also present, gathering and bearing witness to what was happening in their backyard or a whole world away. This is what we do as Church isn’t it. It is something we have always done since the first time Christ gave us the Eucharist as a gift and a way to remember him. It is our way of making Christ present among us and in our world. Especially during times of great uncertainty and unrest. This is something we have been doing ever since. Last week St. Martin’s joined with many churches across Vancouver and across the country in ringing our bells 100 times at 4:30pm to mark, remember and bear witness once more to a significant world event 100 years ago and to continue to bear witness to world events. It is our way of saying, “We hear you. We see you,” to what is happening in our backyard and across the globe.
These are small actions for sure. They may even seem insignificant when faced with events locally and globally that seem beyond our control. It is easy to get disillusioned and discouraged in the face of what seems impossible. We worry ourselves greatly with issues and circumstances that we cannot control. This too is something we have always done as a church. In a way it is human nature to worry and be preoccupied with what we cannot control. We love to control our world, environment and life. The reality is, we are actually in control of very little. That ultimately the one who is in control is God. That too is why we continue to gather as a parish community for the past 108 years. We gather to acknowledge that ultimately our lives and destiny as people, church and country is in God’s hands. We come to surrender control over to God. We come to show up, bear witness and say, “here I am Lord, as flawed and as imperfect as I am, here am I, ready to continue your work and mission in Upper Lonsdale and around the world.” This is one of the characteristics of a saint we heard about a couple weeks ago. Saints are people who show up, be present and bear witness. Sometimes, in fact, most often, that is all that is required.
To all the people and saints, past, present and still to come who have shaped and formed us as a parish I say “thank you and well done,” Christ says, “Thank you and well done thy good and faith servants.” As we continue to gather as a parish community in our 108th year and as has been said of us before may Christ say to us still, “Come people of St. Martin, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry in Upper Lonsdale and you gave me food, I was thirsty in Upper Lonsdale and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger in Upper Lonsdale and you welcomed me, I was naked in Upper Lonsdale and you gave me clothing, I was sick in Upper Lonsdale and you took care of me. I was in prison in Upper Lonsdale and you visited me” (Matthew 25: 34-36).