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St. Nicholas Birch Cliff

Anglican Church

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Glimpses of God

 Earlier this year, during Epiphany, we began sharing our Glimpses of God, with the congregation on Sunday mornings during our worship services.  It was an opportunity for us to share a brief story of a time when we saw God at work in our lives, often in a mysterious or un-explainable way.  The following Glimpses, are some that were shared in January and February, and we hope to be able to bring you some new Glimpses of God in the coming weeks.  

 

Anne Moir

 

Glimpses of God Video Reflection by Anne Moir

Bill Goodfellow

I’m starting to write this on a beautiful morning in May. I’ve had a walk around my garden and what do I see? In this Easter season it’s not hard to find Glimpses of God. I see it in the green shoots, the buds on the trees, the Robins are back along with other birds.  I think of the words of these two  hymns,  Now the green blade rises from the buried grain, wheat that in dark earth many days has lain; love lives again, that with the dead has been; love is come again like wheat arising green. All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all. Each radiant flowers that opens, each vibrant bird that sings, God made their glowing colours, God made their lively wings.

On the second Sunday after my arrival in Canada I found myself walking over to a church close to where I lived, it was actually Hope United at the corner of Danforth and Main. The last Sunday I attended my home church in Aberdeen (an emotional time) our alto soloist sang “Panis Angelicus”.

That morning in Hope United the alto soloist sang “Panis Angelicus”. I could hardly believe it. After the service I was invited to join a few members of the choir for coffee in a restaurant across the street, there was no coffee hour in the church in those days. I met a lady that morning whose daughter came to drive her home. Little did I know at that time but that lady became my mother-in-law and Esther became my wife a few years later. As the restaurant was called Paradise we often joked about meeting in Paradise. My mother-in-law was a soprano soloist and Esther sang alto, we had many musical duets around the piano after dinner on a Sunday evening. My father-in-law was a chartered accountant and when I started my own business he set up my accounting, looked after taxes etc. All this from a casual meeting many years prior.

All of the above I believed to be Glimpses of God.

I first came to St. Nicholas when Peter Sugden was the organist, I was introduced to Peter when he was the organist at the Church of the Ascension in Don Mills. I played most of the weddings in that church as Peter said there was no way he was leaving his pool on a Saturday just to play a wedding. When he became organist at St. N. he called on me to ‘keep the bench warm’ when he required a Sunday off. Prue Chambers was the priest at that time and we immediately formed a bond which of course has continued to this day. At that same time Joan Waters Garner was the assistant, we had met in the 1960’s when I worked as a technician for the Heintzman Piano Co. we both couldn’t believe that here we were meeting again after so many years. I might add at this point that my home church in Aberdeen was also called St. Nicholas, another Glimpse of God. When Esther was diagnosed with two brain tumours it was Prue, Joan and some of the members of St. Nicholas who were there for me during the next five months. After Esther passed away I started to attend St. N. on a regular basis, that led to joining the choir and supplying at the organ when required, on occasion for longer periods than I ever imagined. I also never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be asked to serve as a Sacristan, God moves in mysterious ways.

As some of you know, I’m on the supply list for the Royal Canadian College of Organists, as there’s always a need for someone to ‘fill the gap’ when an organist requires time off for vacation, sickness or any other reason. It can be a challenge to play on an unfamiliar instrument at sometimes very short notice. This means that I’m not always available for duties at St. N. but I feel that God has called me to serve in this capacity. Another Glimpse of God.

In comparison to other members at St. N. some of whom have been here since they were babes in arms, my time has been relatively short, but I’ve always felt that it was here that I belonged and that God guided me here.

These are some of my Glimpses of God which occur more than I could ever imagine.

 

 

Suzanne Lehtinen

 

Often, I have what my son Shawn calls - with teasing disdain - Holy Moments. Yet when Reverend Janet asked me to share a Glimpse of God, I struggled to find something worth sharing.   With that in mind, here’s something that happened to Shawn and I. 

 

In the winter of 1987, I went to visit with a good friend, at her home outside of Orillia, with my new born son, for the weekend.   She also had a place in the city.  We had travelled in separate vehicles - mine was new to me, but a gently used car.  We planned to return to the city Sunday evening.  Mid afternoon, on the Sunday, we decided to leave as the weather was deteriorating.  We left at the same time, with me following my friend.  I am - and was a confident driver, having driven in winter weather without incident since I was 16.  

 

The snow fall steadily increased as we made our way south on highway 11.  Just north of Barrie, with nothing but fields as far as I could see on both sides of the highway, the car engine died.  I was able to get onto the shoulder - but I was unable to restart the car.  It was 1987 and I did not have a cell phone.  The cars on the highway kept driving by.  

 

So... do I stay in the car and wait for help that may or may not materialize?  Do I pack up my baby and hike for help?  Which way should I go, if I go?  The snow is continuing to fall and it is going to be dark soon and I have to make a decision. 

 

As I am turning over my not so great options in my head, a blue van pulls over and stops.  A man gets out and asks me if he can help.  He takes a look at the car.  Says he can fix it, but he does not have what he needs with him.  He offers to take me and the baby to his home. He tells me that I can stay there while he goes back to fix my car.  Then he will bring it to me so that I can continue home.  I agree. Pack up Shawn and get in his van.  

 

Sounds like the beginning of a good horror movie right?  Don’t you think that I wasn’t second guessing myself.  I was a volunteer Toronto Auxiliary Police Officer.  I had been a Girl Guide for a really long time.  I was so not prepared. What the heck was I doing?

 

He drove us to his house in Barrie.  He took what he needed to go back and fix my car with another guy.  They were gone a long time.  His wife fed me, and gave my privacy to feed Shawn.  She let me call family so that I could tell them where I was.  He and the other guy returned with my car, now working.  And I was able to return home safely.  

 

This was a Divine moment - God sending this man - his wife - the other guy into my life.  Angels if you like - watching over me and Shawn.  

 

Angels in our lives.  Holy moments.  In my life.  In Shawn’s life.  Where are the angels - the holy moments - in your life?

 

 

Janet Baron 

 

n the winter and spring of 1988, my Dad’s health was failing, he had congestive heart failure, and was on oxygen, and in and out of hospital several times over a few months.   As usual, Mom had been to visit him on the afternoon of June 16th.

We always visited in the afternoon, never in the evening – I had children to get to bed, and Mom enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner, and would never have driven after having a drink, so it was always afternoon visits.     

When she returned home that afternoon, she called me to tell me that he was coming home in the morning, and then she suggested that we go to see him that evening. I did wonder why, after all he was coming home the next day, but agreed to take her.  Not only did Mom and I go, we took Elizabeth, who was not quite 3 years old.  This was really unusual…..we had never taken her to visit before, I’m not even sure that children that young were supposed to visit,  but  away we went to see Grandpa, I even dressed Elizabeth  in Grandpa’s favourite dress. 

It was a fun visit.  He was thrilled to see her, and commented on her being in the dress that he liked so much.  Elizabeth sat quietly on Grandpa’s hospital bed, on top of the covers, and played a game with him trying to catch his feet as he moved them around under the covers.  I was concerned that the activity was too strenuous for him, and repeatedly tried to get her to stop bothering Grandpa, but each time he would say, “leave her alone, she’s not bothering me, we’re having fun”.    

At 8 p.m visiting hours were over, and with a big hug for Elizabeth from her Grandpa we left, saying goodbye, and we’d pick him up in the morning.  

At about 11:00 that night, we got a call from the hospital to say that Dad had just died. 

It would be really easy to explain our ‘out of the ordinary’ visit that evening as luck…..a fluke…..coincidence…….or just one of those things, and if I’m being completely honest, at the time, that’s what I thought.  But over the years, I have come to  believe our “out of the ordinary”  visit was no coincidence , but that it was a gift from God………..making sure we saw Dad, and Dad saw Elizabeth, one last time.   

 

 

Cheryle Pollock 

 

God’s presence in my life is a true blessing and can at times be both challenging and overwhelming – in a positive way. I try each day to make a concerted effort to be more intentional and open to the awareness of God in my life.  This awareness or presence may be received in many ways: from someone I know, from a stranger, something I’ve read, or in nature, like the moon still shining brightly in the morning sky before it disappears for the day.   I call these moments ‘Godsome’ moments; awesome moments from God. Sometimes these moments take me outside of my comfort zone; outside my box.

A parish nurse friend and I took a spur-of-the-moment road trip to London Ontario for an evening event at Huron College.   Our road trips can be rather interesting with lots of side roads, twists and turns. As long as we are going in the general direction of where we need to go we are confident we will get to our destination. Now, a current road map just might make things easier but then we might miss an adventure.

The hotel we stayed at overnight offered breakfast from 6 to 9 o’clock in the morning which would have been just fine except we slept in and missed breakfast. This meant another road trip to find a place for breakfast other than ‘Timmies’ and believe me there are a lot of Timmies in London. After a few twists and turns on a number of streets the only restaurant we found open was the Fireside Grill & Bar on Commissioner’s Road.  Going to a bar was definitely outside of our ordinary boxes but they were serving breakfast and we were hungry.

We had a filling breakfast and were on our 4th coffee refill when my friend suggested I turn around. A woman was showing her friend a blanket she was knitting.

 When we got up to leave both of us went over to their table to admire the blanket. Little did we know what we would come to learn.

This woman whom I will call Jane was using yarn her sister had bought.  The yarn was a soft blanket yarn and each square was a different colour - white, pink or a combination of both colours. Jane explained her sister liked to store up yarn for future projects but this yarn her sister never got to use. After a lengthy illness her sister died last November. Her sister’s husband gave Jane this yarn asking if she could do something with it.  This lap blanket was the fifth blanket knit from her sister’s yarn and Jane thought there was enough for three more. In remembrance of her sister, the blankets were being gifted to the palliative unit that had cared for her. With each stitch knitted Jane was remembering joyful moments her and her sister shared. These blankets were a gift helping her through her grief.

At the end of our visit we thanked Jane for sharing and Jane thanked us for listening. We both wished Jane and her friend well.

Now I ask was sleeping in, missing breakfast, driving around to find a restaurant and only finding this particular grill & bar open and then meeting Jane all just by chance?  I didn’t think so then and still don’t. As we walked away I silently thanked God for once again taking me out of my box to experience another  ‘Godsome’ moment.

When has God taken you outside of your box, outside of your comfort zone to experience a ‘Godsome’ moment?

Shared at 830 & 1030 services February 9th, 2020 as a Glimpse of God

 

 

Marien Gehrels 

 My name is Marien and I was an atheist.

True, I grew up in church but I only went because my parents felt it was important.  (Prior to church we always had to shine our shoes and trust me, to this date shining shoes doesn't exactly give me glimpses of God).

When I was 15 my father died – my mum and him came back from a one-week vacation in the sun, their first without kids since they were married.  My father arrived back home in a wheelchair and was gone in three days.

Someone in our church told my mother at the time that my father must have been a bad person or otherwise God would not have let him die.  It is a surefire way to make anyone stop going to church, to stop believing in such a vengeful God. So I stopped going to church and became an atheist.  I was done with church.  I was done with God.

Turns out God wasn't quite done with me.

At various time in my life God shone through, lifted up my soul and gave me a glimpse of a divine presence.  My first glimpse of God, although I didn't know what to call it at the time, was in the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul,  Here, safely stowed away in a glass display case, hangs the mantel of the Prophet Mohammed.  Looking at it I could sense something, a kind of energy.

The next glimpse was a lot more powerful.  One day in Jerusalem I entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where according to tradition, Jesus was buried.  There is even a shrine you can enter and, as luck had it, there was no one lining up.  So I went in.  As I stood there looking around, contemplating what I was seeing, I found myself bursting out in tears.  It was a hugely overpowering experience - remember, I was still an atheist at this time.

As the years passed by God's glimpses kept coming.  From sensing the divine in nature to “accidentally” walking in to a church and being pulled in by the sign that said “you don't have to take the whole package to come through our doors”.  That spoke to me and I started attending church, along with Lynelle whom I had just married.  One cloudy, rainy day I went to church.   I found myself struggling with a major decision and I was pondering it over as I stood with the congregation in a circle before the altar, waiting to take communion.  Just as I had come to a decision that felt right, the heavens split apart and a sunbeam fell through the window and illuminated just me.  Coincidence?  Perhaps not.

Through the years there have been many more glimpses of God.  Many times I have had a voice in my head while driving on a narrow road warning  “there is a car coming towards you around the bend” and sure enough, there was.  And that warning gave me time to move over. 

God walked next to me when I went through a difficult journey of being made redundant twice in a year.  He walked next to me when I started up my own business.

And just last week as I was walking along the bluffs I had a fleeting thought, a little voice in my head:  “One wouldn't want to fall here”.  Two seconds later I slipped but because I was mentally prepared I caught myself.

Glimpses come far and wide – gazing up at a beautiful statue in a chapel in Naples, Italy, or looking at my daughter and being filled with love.

Now that I have opened myself to recognizing glimpses of God they seem to have become a regular occurrence in my life.   But they always come unexpectedly, as if to somehow want to break into my life, to hit me the hardest and be the most impactful.  

Have you opened yourself to glimpses of God?  Where does God break through in your life?