Bringing the Community Together to Support Veterans

On Friday, November 11th, we hosted our annual Veterans Day Soup and Chili Supper.  The event was started over 20 years ago as an avenue to say “Thank You” to our local veterans.  This year’s event was truly memorable as the Canton community rallied together to raise money for our local veterans and the family of Sgt. Douglas Riney.  Throughout the night crowds continued to flow through the VFW hall quickly filling up seats.  It was abundantly clear that the success of the night was possible because so many in the community joined us in giving back to the veterans.  WBYS and Walmart donated to the raffle, the local Girl Scouts served attendees, bused tables, and were ready to help wherever they were needed, families donated various desserts, and countless volunteers gave their time before, during, and after the event.  Overall, we raised $1,300 for local veterans and served “Thank You” dinners to 36 veterans.  It was a beautiful and uplifting night to see our community come together to say “Thank You” to our local veterans for their service.

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Keep Praying. Keep Asking. Be Persistent.

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When I was young our family had to travel about 25 minutes from our house to the church.  We did this every Sunday morning, Sunday Evening and Wednesday evening.  At right about the midpoint of our trip was a little old time corner store called Buddy’s.  Buddy’s had old wooden floors and cool soda fountain counter.  My brothers and I loved Buddy’s.  We loved getting a long neck glass bottle Dr. Pepper from the cooler.  And every time we got about a mile from Buddy’s my brother and I would state chanting “Buddy’s, Buddy’s, Buddy’s.”  We wanted dad to stop and buy us a Dr. Pepper at Buddy’s. We were persistent.  Sometimes it took a lot of persuasion.  But every few weeks we would wear dad down and he would stop.

In last Sunday’s Gospel passage, Luke tells us right off the bat what the parable Jesus is about to tell is all about.  Luke says, “And he [that is Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”

So there’s no reading between the lines. No guessing.  No digging to find the real message here.  Luke says this parable is about praying, and asking God for your needs and desires.

Praying for the healing of others.  Praying for the restoration of broken relationships.  Praying for the poor and needy.  Keep on praying.  And don’t lose heart.  Don’t lose heart when your prayers aren’t answered in the way you want them to be.  Don’t lose heart when they aren’t answered in the time you think they should be answered.

Keep on praying.  Keep on asking.  Be persistent.  Be like my brother and I, chanting “Buddy’s, Buddy’s, Buddy’s.”  This, Luke says, is what this parable is about.

Jesus said,

In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.  [Luke 18:1-8]

The judge in the parable gives into the widow’s request because she is persistent.  She does not lose heart but instead she continues to come back time and time again, with the same request.

Look at what Jesus says,

“Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.”

The “unrighteous” judge gave in to the persistent widow.  How much more will God being just give to those who cry to him persistently?  But why is God this way?  Why does God want us to come back again and again?  Why doesn’t he just answer our prayers when we ask?

There are several reasons for this.

First, I think sometimes when we pray we don’t fully understand what we are asking for. We may think we do, but often we fail to understand all the implications of our request. However, God knows the implications and I wonder if sometimes he’s giving us the opportunity, through communion with him, to wrestle with what getting what we ask for would do to us.

How many people have asked God to let them win the lotto?  How many people’s lives have been destroyed by winning the lotto?  Time magazine says the 70% of the people who win the lottery lose the money within a few years.  Many commit suicide and others file for divorce.  Financial consultant Don McNay said, “It’s the curse of the lottery because it made their lives worse instead of improving them.”  Often times getting what we ask God for would have unintended negative consequences. So God gives us the grace of letting us sit on our request, pondering it and questioning if it is in fact what is best for us.

Another reason God ask us to keep coming back to him time and time again is that he knows we value what we work hard for.  One of my most valuable possessions I had as a kid was a Swatch.  Swatches came out in the 90’s and were so cool.  They were basically a neon watch with some kind of foreign writing or something else on the watch face.  They cost $35 plus tax. I saved for months.  Doing extra choirs, mowing lawns and doing whatever I could to make money.  I had never saved my money for anything before then. When I finally bought that Swatch I was so proud of myself.  I wore it all the time.  I had persisted in saving my money and that $35 dollar watch was invaluable to me.  God knows that we value what we work hard for.   He knows that we will not only value what he gives us after persistent prayer but that we will also value the giver.  So he asks us not to lose heart but to persist in asking.

He also asks us to persist in prayer so that we will learn to trust him. To trust that even when he is silent, he hears us. To trust him when it seems that are prayer will not be answered.  Even when the situation is dire and it feels as if he must intervene at that very moment. My mother used to say, “Your faith must go beyond your hour of need.” Once we have a history with God in persistent prayer, we gain a deep faith in his care for us. We will be assured that he has us in his hands.  That no matter the circumstances he will have us.

And finally, God ask us to come time and time again to him with our request because he loves being with us.  He loves talking with us.  He loves hearing our request and our sometimes incoherent ramblings.  Like a loving parent God loves it when we craw up on his knee and share with him our needs and desires.  No matter how mundane or petty.  He wants to know us and he wants us to know him.  Can you imagine how short our time with him would be if he simply gave us everything we ask for at the moment we asked?  How cheap his gifts would become? Prayer would become a simple transaction and God our sugar daddy.  We would go to him only for what we could get from him and we would rarely take the time to know him.  So sometimes he doesn’t answer us right away because he loves us.

And he loves hearing our request.  He loves it when we come back time and time again.  He loves when we share with him our wants and our desires , our dreams and our hopes.   And even our fears and anxieties.

He loves it when we persist.  So don’t lose heart. Keep on asking.  Keep on praying.  Keep on shouting “Buddy’s, Buddy’s, Buddy’s”.

Peace,

Fr. Rob+

New Life at St. Peter’s

This past SundIMG_20160626_101441676ay we began a new season at St. Peter’s.  A season of new beginnings and life giving growth.  During his sermon, Fr. Rob showed us how we have moved into being a church with life filled with opportunities to love, serve, reach others with Christ’s love.  God is growing, changing, and opening our hearts to what He is moving us to be to our community. We invite you to join us in our endeavor to build a community who seeking God and loving others here in Canton.  Check us out one Sunday!