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By Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt

An impact of following the Church calendar, filled with all of its saints’ days and special commemorations is that we constantly meet individuals who have lived their lives in ways which have much to teach us.

Life stories of service and sacrifice fill the year with example after example of individuals who have been gifted by God with talents and abilities which have an impact in a situation or in the lives of others.

We may look at the lives being remembered and think that those lives are being lived at a level beyond the reach of many of us. We look at the individuals who are named as Saints and see them in all their stained-glass glory. Yet as we look more deeply into their lives, we discover that they are people with whom we have much in common.

Being in the right place, at the right time and being surrounded by opportunities afforded to us in a particular moment, are only partial elements of our own life story. The simple reality of our lives is that each of us has been given a gift, a talent, or an ability which shapes our unique identity. Being able to identify that gift, talent or ability is one part of the story. Deciding how to use that gift, talent or ability is another step along the way. Ultimately, once we have identified our gift, once we have considered how that gift could be used, we must then proceed to use it!

One of my all time favourite hymns captured this journey of personal reflection in a beautiful way, by asking and then answering this critical question of the discernment and the offering of gifts in the service of Jesus.

What can I give Him, poor as I am? 
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man, I would do my part.
Yet what I can, I give Him, give my heart.
(In The Bleak Midwinter - Common Praise # 122)

These days I am particularly moved by the stories which are being circulated from places where people are trying to survive in areas of conflict.

In Ukraine, where bombs fall in an indiscriminate way, people still gather for worship and support each other. In Jerusalem, in ever decreasing numbers, Christians still walk the Way of the Cross in faithful witness.

In Gaza, where tragedy and famine have become unavoidable realities, people of faith still cling to their faith as a source of strength to help them to survive another day. In Canada, the public expression of faith, once seen as an unquestioned freedom, is under fire.

Humanity has been gifted with a beautiful world, whose care we have systematically set at such a low profile that now we act as bystanders while Creation gasps for breath. The degradation of this “island home” of ours, is not good use of the Divine gift we have been given.

Years ago, my Father was a guest preacher in a parish where he was invited to stay in the Rectory. In the morning, his host woke up his family by knocking on their bedroom doors and saying, in a loud voice, “Wake Up! The Lord has given us a new day. Let’s see what we can do with it !”

Being able to value and appreciate each day, each moment of life, each person, each situation or opportunity that each day presents, as a gift from God, may be a new way in which you may look at your life. The reality of life is that when we look at every breath as a Divine gift, life and what we do with it, becomes all the more precious in our own sight.

The observance of Pentecost is one of those moments when a gift is being given. It is a Divine gift. It is a gift which cannot be ignored. It is a gift which is being poured out with a generosity which is described in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.

The gift being given is transformative in nature. We see it immediately in the lives of those who had left their normal pattern of life behind. They had answered a unique call from a Rabbi who beckoned them into a new life as they became his disciples. From this moment on, empowered by the Holy Spirit, they would call others to become followers of The Way, disciples of Jesus.

The words of the Baptismal Covenant give us the opportunity to renew the way in which we view our place in the world, those people whose lives touch ours and the world in which we live, and name them as gifts from God. I invite you to engage in a process of personal reflection that as you discern the many ways in which the Divine gift of life and a variety of talents have been poured into you that, when asked if you will use them, you will respond, with conviction:

“I will, with God’s help."

Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt has retired from full-time parish ministry but continues to offer priestly ministry in the Diocese.