I was born on a farm in Prince Edward Island and grew up as an only child. I moved to Hamilton, Ontario as a teenager. We married at eighteen and while raising a family my husband and I went back to school to further our education. I graduated from McMaster School of Business and family moved to Ottawa where I worked my way up in Finance in the Federal Government. The personal loss of our twenty-two year old son to a rare form of cancer brought us back to Hamilton and my journey into ministry. Thirteen years serving in the northeast end of Hamilton with Fairfield-St. David’s congregation culminated in retirement when the church was sold and passed on to Wesley Urban Ministries. Thirteen years of working in Financial Management with family trucking business followed, and the joy of training and working with three of my grandchildren. Then an unanticipated “recall” into active church ministry arose out of my daughter’s decision to study for the ministry. My work with her for preparation and study reawakened my passion for ministry and I became aware that my journey was not finished and God had more for me to do. Could my twilight years be productive? I certainly have the energy and enthusiasm. When God nudges, amazing things can happen! At the precise moment of my search, Melrose, too began their own search. Not just any church - this was “The” church I was married in, raised my children in, and from which I was a candidate to ministry. At this point in our evolution, we were delighted to find one another. I have been warmly welcomed home! Together in ministry we seek to listen to God’s word, to make Melrose presence know and relevant in our community. It is a joy to work with our dedicated and professional staff and Board. If you are curious or seeking deeper meaning in your life, come join us as we explore what it means to be in the ministry of Jesus Christ together in this challenging world.
Grace and Peace..
Rev. Sonia Ireson
September 14, 2020
TO: Friends of Melrose
FROM: Rev. Sonia Ireson
Greetings in the name of the One who loves us and holds us dear…
I was looking out on my little deck off my kitchen earlier this week (something I often do, just because of the beauty of the ferns and the lush plants) when I had a magical moment, a striking red cardinal chose to fly onto the arm of my chair less than two feet from my window. He looked at me then flew to the railing, but then flew back to the arm of the chair. I stood very still and contemplated the sighting as one of those moments when God gets your attention and says, you are special and I am giving you a gift because you are stopping to appreciate it.
Do you ever have moments like that which seem to be out of the ordinary, something special that touches your heart? A baby’s smile or laugh can do that, arresting your jumbled thoughts or musings and bringing you into the moment. How many things do we allow to pass us by without realizing they are extraordinary gifts in the midst of turmoil or confusion or just plain ordinary?
Life rolls by, busy, quiet, even numbed, breath by breath, passing in strides without our awareness. Minutes pass, days pass, weeks pass, and even years, in a blur. We mark our time through significant events and milestones, before and after births and deaths. I can remember those precisely, but the major long-awaited trips to European destinations, I can’t remember the year. It is interesting what takes hold in our memory as the highlights, growth moments, and game changers.
We have no idea as we are going through our day to day family lives what will be a moment of memory in looking back in 20, 30, or 40 years beyond. The day at the beach with the family and the anxious dog who can’t wait to get in the water; the games night with friends or family around the table competing, yet enjoying one another’s company; the unexpected visits from ones that we haven’t seen for a long time. There are so many special moments that occur in our lives that remain with us to be savoured again and again. “This is the day” is a cheerful hymn that encourages us to live in awareness of the sanctity of our days, to rejoice in all our days and to seek entrance into God’s Holy Place.
In a previous reflection I spoke about us standing on Holy Ground wherever we are. I feel that this hymn is echoing that sentiment. The hymnist is pleading to God to “open the gates to God’s holy place.” But I believe it is not so much a plea to God to respond and let us in to an isolated location, but rather a request to open our eyes to be able to see and appreciate the majesty and holiness of all that is around us.
Whatever gives you meaning and joy is a holy place. Wherever you share in that meaning and joy with another, wherever you assist another who is in need; these are all opportunities to be inside the gates of God’s holy place.
Two such moments for me this week: on my drive to my friend, Sharon’s in Stoney Creek, I am a creature of habit and always take the same route from Homewood over to Bay Street and turn at Herkimer to go around St. Joe’s Hospital. On Friday, I was distracted and passed the corner and found myself in front of Pam and Ivan’s condo (Pam, former Melrose Office Administrator, and good friend). I looked up to Ivan waving at me as I passed. He was on his way to his car. It was one of those wide smiles that uplifted my day and I said a thank you for the altered route. The second was on a trip out Hwy 3 and on to Otterville where we encountered a dam spilling water into a lower stream, three young boys about 9 fishing, sun shining, beautiful landscaped plants surrounding, and a park bench to sit and enjoy. God’s nature is beautiful. Leaves are just beginning to changer colour. The ground in Huron County is lush. The air is clean.
What is tugging at your heartstrings and calling to you to pause and enjoy? “See I have placed before you, life, choose life in its abundance” says our benefactor God. In the midst of catastrophic fires, racial wars, hatred, bewildering politics, fear and confusing messages about health safety, God calls out to us to recognize that God is not absent and ignoring what is going on. Everything is moving towards a plan and purpose that God has in store, and above all, remember that you fit in to that plan. You are considered worthy and loved, without condition.
An addendum from Saturday, to say how delightful it was to be together, 21 of us, at the HAAA grounds for a farewell picnic for Heather, Audrey and Cole Clark as they prepare to move to Ottawa. Wonderful to see people again, carefully distanced and masked and without hugs, however, the sentiment was there. We are sorry to see them go, but we wish Heather and Audrey and Cole well on their new adventure.
Be strong! Stay safe! Be of good cheer!
Together in the Service of Jesus Christ