Sunday, June 19, 2011

God Endures Unchanging On - A Reflection for the 160th Anniversary of Trinity Anglican Church, Bradford

One hundred and sixty years is something to celebrate; but let us never forget who it is that we proclaim in our shared life, and in whose ministry we rejoice today. Let us give thanks and praise to Christ our God.

Often, I take a moment to study the faces of the past rectors of Trinity Church, so wonderfully displayed in the Upper Room (our Narthex). I feel deeply humbled to follow in the footsteps of such faithful clerics. Many of these are remembered fondly by our current generation, but as my gaze wanders back across our 160 years of history, I soon realize that many of my predecessors are but names and faces, and a few of them just names. The contours of their ministry are no longer within the landscape of our gaze. They served, and they served faithfully, and their faithfulness is now known only to God. I wonder what challenges they faced in their ministries. I wonder what joys they knew and what tragedies they ministered through. Perhaps it does not matter; what matters is that their faithfulness has served to bring us to this day.

More important than the faithfulness of any priest, though, is the faithfulness of God’s people who make up the local church. I can now look upon another wonderful display of photos and clippings, prepared especially for this celebration, and see faces that have lived and faithfully served in this community. Some of them I know while others are fondly remembered by our senior parishioners. There are many faces that do not grace the display and are remembered only to God. How humbling it is for us to know that we are but one generation in a long line of faithful Christians in this place who have served the living God. Consider for a moment how the faithfulness of our mothers and fathers has served to bring us to this day.

More important than the faithfulness of priests or people, though, is the faithfulness of God in Christ. What makes the church more than just a society of people and clergy is the love that binds us together in Christ. What make us more than a family is the faithfulness of the one who gave us life, redeems that life, and empowers us to live into the divine likeness. The most important thing, and may we never lose sight of this truth, is the faithfulness of the God. The faithfulness of God is what has brought us to this point and what will move us forward. In another hundred years when our successors take a long gaze backward and wonder who we were and ponder our faithfulness, be it ever so fragile, they will be sure of one thing, that we served, and that they serve a faithful God who shall never leave nor forsake.

The words of a favourite hymn comes to mind:

“…Frail as summer’s flower we flourish, blows the wind and it is gone, but while mortals rise and perish, God endures unchanging on.”

So let us “praise the high eternal one” for his unending and unchanging faithfulness, for his faithfulness shown in and through our mothers and fathers in this parish, for our frail faithfulness, and for his faithfulness yet to be expressed in generations yet to be.

A happy 160th anniversary to you all.

Fr. Dan Graves

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