Weekly Reflection by Rev. Brent Neumann

   by Brent Neumann

May 29, 2020

Day 80

Friday morning, sun is up, the air is cool, the birds are singing, but it is so quiet. No sound of cars, planes, sirens, or people. Nice way to begin the day simply sitting in the office, listening to the world outside. This slowing down and being quiet is something that all of us have done at one point or another. Now it is almost a mandate. We have all been told that we are to take the time to pray, but actually doing what we have been told to do is something that everyone of us must ‘choose’ to do. It is always the ‘choice’ aspect of our faith that takes the most effort. We can choose to read a reflection, we can choose to pray, we can choose to be quiet, we can choose to focus on our breathing, we can choose to listen. Reality is that it is easy to turn on the radio or the TV, it is easier to pick up a book, it is easier to roll over in bed and get a few more minutes of shut eye. There are many ways to get distracted.

At this juncture in our world history, we have been given choices that are quite different than the ones available a few months ago. When we were told to go home and stay there, we were given an opportunity. From a faith perspective, we have been given a great opportunity to learn more about a contemplative approach to life. I remember reading about one mystic who stated that he prays all day, every day. Yet, he also worked in a market-style garden. When asked how he managed to pray and work he explained it this way: “Well, when I dig the garden, I focus on the miracle of earth, I reflect on how all things must die for other things to live. The soil needs nutrients and the nutrients come from compost and compost comes from all those things that have died. I find myself marvelling at the complexity that God has created. I get to see things in that dirt that I never paid attention to. . . I get to see God in all things. . . and I give thanks for all that I see.”

“But when things grow, I get to see new life and recreation, when plants produce I give thanks for Gods abundance, when I eat I give thanks for sustenance and then I get to do it all over again.”

Life is like that; in everything, we are given opportunities to see God. We are the ones who must ‘choose’ to look.

This has been another very full week. Things are moving along very well, but there is still a whole lot that we are currently working through. We have launched our business review this week. Judy Murphy has both a business background as well as a lot of non-profit experience. She has begun the interviewing process as well as the survey, allowing everyone in the parish to participate.

The second thing that we are working diligently on is the annex. We had one report done over the winter that raised some significant concerns which required us to ask more questions. We have now confirmed that the building structure is good, but the renovations required to bring this building up to code requires substantial investment. The church proper also requires work to keep it functional. Sandi, David, our finance committee, and our partners are currently working through the needs and the costs associated to get a clear perspective. We will be presenting the entire picture to vestry as we get it clearer ourselves. There is still a fair amount of work that needs to be done, but we will present that to everyone once we have completed these tasks.

However, it is beginning to look like our new complex is going to come in under budget! There are a couple of factors in this. One is that we had an excellent experience over the winter, erecting the building. If you happen to be in the downtown area, you will notice that we are just about topped out. Meaning, that the building is just about erected, and when that happens, the big crane will be coming down. The second thing that happened was that our loan was calculated using a 2.5 % interest rate, and we were able to secure a mortgage at 1.72%. This rate makes a huge difference when we are dealing with a $17 million plus mortgage. All of this means a substantial saving to us. It is beginning to look like we might be able to find extra cash from the project which we can reinvest into our annex and church. In other words, we might actually have a much bigger bang for our bucks than we originally anticipated.

Considering everything that could have happened, how many people have had such terrible experiences over these last few months, we have indeed been deeply blessed. I give great thanks for that and for all of you as this would not have been possible without your faith and willingness to take risks. Living life fully is a risk, but when we live fully, we get to experience God fully. We have taken the risk to open ourselves fully to this experience – and look at what happened! How can any of us – not – give thanks for this example of faith in action? Thanks be to God.

With Love

Brent