This week in the life of the Christian year, we celebrated St. Barnabas’ Day. Prayers, reflection and messages were sent out to emphasize this saint’s example of faithfulness in encouragement and generosity. I emailed a colleague on the west coast, offering prayer in thanksgiving for his anniversary of ordination. I received a welcome response, congratulations and prayers as well.
These small, timely actions help me to focus on the gifts of encouragement and generosity that we are called to in our baptismal life. They help to center me, they give me strength and comfort in the times when life in the world and in ministry is tough.
In the midst of all this, I was shocked to hear the media reports this week, of how life in this province is not all that it should be. While we do have beautiful place names, like Paradise, Heart’s Content, and Little Heart’s Ease, there is an ominous report from CBC concerning the treatment of Torrence Collier in Westport.
I am glad to see that the Department of Education and the English School District NL are responding. I am glad too, that the community is beginning to examine the situation, with the hope of rectifying the actions that have cause much pain and distress. Unfortunately, the church has been silent in this process, even though we are called to bring comfort and support to the vulnerable, and to walk the way of Jesus within communities.
Closer to home for me, I was amazed and appalled by the announcements from the City of St. John’s this week. In the St. John’s area, the average cost of a new home is now $411,000. About 25% of the population of St. John’s earn between $32,000 and $80,000 per year. At these income rates, it is getting harder and harder for families to be able to purchase and own a home. If interest rates change drastically, the landscape of the Northeast Avalon will change significantly as well.
I am heartened by the opportunity that our Bishop and Diocese has offered in the new diocesan mantra, “Who are the people in your neighbourhood.”
This gives great opportunity for the community of faith in our part of the world to engage our neighbours. We are called to take the example of others in the faith, who have gone before us, like Barnabas. Perhaps we need to show generosity by selling or sharing the buildings and land that we have, so that others who cannot afford to live in this beautiful place may find a way for the church to bring them home.