This morning included a really liturgy at COTM. Even just ten minutes before the service I was feeling anxious about how few people were there. What with the street closures for the Toronto Marathon, I expected attendance to be soft, anyway. And indeed, a number of regulars were missing--but they were replaced by a couple of visiting families! In fact, it was the highest attended Sunday since the summer! Wow. And they seemed to enjoy the service we did. Yippee. I can barely describe how rewarding it is to spend a year tweaking and honing and working hard to attract new people and to actually have some show up and indicate that they would like to stay! I suppose that the efforts that I put in along with Matthew, Kerrie, and the rest of the staff and congregation can only provide fertile ground on which a seed may or may not fall--but damn does it feel good to see a little fruit on the vine!
My sermon was interesting--I used the story of Christopher McCandless to explore the degree too which we may say either that our lives are our own or that we live in web of mutual dependency. Christopher McCandless was a young man that dropped out of conventional society looking to discover himself in a classic American road odyssey. Things did not end well for him--lacking proper equipment or wilderness survival skills he died in the wilderness in Alaska after about 120 days of living in the bush in 1992. In the end even something as simple as a proper hiking map would have been enough to save him. Was he a fool, or an adventurous soul who made a simple mistake? His biography, Into the Wild, is sympathetic, though many are not. It was a complex theological dilemma to preach about, and I was glad that it resonated with at least one person that heard it.
After worship I drove to the airport to pick up Betsy. She was happy to arrive home. We had time for some lunch and then went to St. Mary Magdalene's for the re-dedication of the church. They just finished the major portion of their renovations and were having a special service of Evensong and Benediction to celebrate. The bishop preached and God was adored. A very formal and beautiful liturgy. The renovations look great.
It felt great to see so many familiar faces. I think a year has been about the right amount of time to have my distance from SMM. I know it's hard for many to understand, but when you take a new call it's important to create good separation from the old place. Anyway, I'll post about SMM more when I'm less tired!