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
October 19, 2020
TO: Friends of Melrose
FROM: Rev. Sonia Ireson
Greetings in the name of the One who loves us and holds us dear
On June 28th 2019, I was beginning a wonderful summer on PEI and in a comfortable condo in Charlottetown. I had had my second interview with your Search Committee, and knew before I left Hamilton that they were putting my name forward to the congregation, but this was not going to happen until late in July.
With a little confidence and great “hope” I sat down on that day and wrote what I thought would be my opening sermon to you for the first Sunday in October. I did not present it, deciding instead to follow the lectionary. As I was searching my Ipad, I came across it early one morning this past week, and decided one year later was the time to pass on to you the words that I wrote some 15 months ago.
As you know, I love a good story, so it should be no surprise that inspirational Movies have always been a strong influence and motivation for me. “The text I have chosen to base my message on today” is Isaiah 40 verse 31. It first came to my attention from the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire. Over the years it grew to be one of my favourites.
Some of you will remember the story of Chariots of Fire, featuring a Scottish son of missionary parents, Eric Liddel, and an English Jew, named Harold Abrahams. They were England’s fastest runners competing for their country in the 1924 Olympics in France.
Each of the two young men had hurdles to overcome before their triumphant wins. Abrahams faced persecution and discrimination as a Jew. Liddell had to reconcile his strong Christian beliefs with the secular world of racing. His race was scheduled for a Sunday, which would go against The Lord’s Day of rest, and he refused to run even in the wake of the Prince of Wales pressuring him to run. A solution is found when a teammate offers him a different race on a different day.
While in Paris, Liddel preaches a sermon in the Church of Scotland based on the scripture from Isaiah. “Those that hope in the Lord, they shall mount up on wings of eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint…. I have no recollection of the words of his sermon, I just know that they made an impact on me at the time, long before there was any expectation on my part that I would be entering ministry.
Hope is what sets us apart as Christians, we believe the promises of God, we live in the footsteps of Jesus Christ who gives us reason to hope in the reality of the Kingdom of God.
Wishing and hoping, the words of a familiar song, used together but with entirely different meaning. When you wish for something, you have a strong desire for something that is not easily attainable, but when you hope, you look forward with a strong desire and confidence of actually attaining it.
Had I only wished to one day be your Minister, I would have dreamt of it from afar, but when I hoped that it might happen, I took advantage of the opportunity that presented itself with your declared vacancy and I actually did something about it with the confidence that it could happen.
God’s timing has always navigated new and wonderful experiences for me and I have learned to rely on the hope of God’s promises in my life.
God’s story about the movement of relationship of God’s beloved creatures is told in narrative through the movement of Adam and Eve from the safety and limitations of the Garden, the response and preservation of Noah in the ark, the call of Abraham to move his household to a new land, the leadership of Moses removing his people from slavery in Egypt, and the promise of a new land. Each based their actions secure in the hope of God’s promises for sustained new life.
When our feet are weary, and the road seems cluttered with rocks, we lose sight of the rainbow of promises. “I will be with you to the ends of the earth,” God says, “Trust in me, you will have renewed strength for the journey. I will raise you up…”
We have been on a journey, not one of our own choosing, but that is life, sometimes we go where we want to go, other times, we are taken along with the flow. Our hope lies in the belief that there is an end to this Pandemic, that one day when the stars align to create a vaccine, when people show more consideration for the protection of others, we will be free again to congregate with friends and loved ones, with dearly missed parishioners, to shop and enjoy recreation without fear. Until then….
Be strong! Stay Safe! Be of good cheer!
Together in the Service of Jesus Christ….
October 9, 2020
TO: Friends of Melrose
FROM: Rev. Sonia Ireson
SPECIAL THANKSGIVING MESSAGE
Greetings in the name of the One who loves us and holds us dear…I am thinking of you as we begin our preparations for our Thanksgiving weekend. This has always been an important time of family celebration, of looking back at how we have been blessed, how far we have come, how thankful we are for health, food on the table, and family and friends at our side.
Many of us will not be able to share in family dinner tables. The turkeys will be smaller this year, the laughter a little less boisterous, empty chairs sit where loved ones would normally be. It would be so easy to wring our hands and moan about what we miss, but I challenge you to step up to find something that is positive and thriving and waiting for you to explore.
The new child that graces your family this year; the addition to your family through a new wedding; food enough to share; the sunrises that you wake up to see; the memories you hold and the smiles they bring from someone who has departed all too soon; the hope that arises in new vaccines; the contacts from others like you, who falter, who worry, who fear, yet offer their support and encouragement and uplift when all seems darkest.
We are not alone. We have not been forgotten or set aside, or being punished. We are cradled in love. We are a Thanksgiving people because our great Creator God has made us so. We are fragile, yet made strong; we are empty, until refilled; we are lost, but then are found. Our God calls out to us from the very energy of our far-reaching universe, and as close as our own in-drawing breath. There is no doubt this Thanksgiving will be different for most of us. It will be lonely because someone we love is not in their usual chair; or grandchildren, or grandparents are not present; or siblings are missing, perhaps staying at college or university. Some of us will be spending it alone; some will be stretching limits, combining households hoping for the best. Whatever your choice is, may you be blessed, and safe, and appreciative of life in all its forms. May you find a way to come to terms with the limitations on your freedom, and possibly find new activities you haven’t tried before, or even learn to be still and enjoy a breath-taking moment in nature, a rise of sublime music, or a smile that lifts your spirits.
Know that your church family is thinking about you, missing you, and looking forward to the day when together, we can reclaim our worship space in joy.
Be strong! Stay safe! Be of good cheer!
Together in the Service of Jesus Christ