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
January 17, 2022
TO: Friends of Melrose
FROM: Rev. Sonia Ireson
Greetings in the name of the One who loves us and holds us dear
Two years of indenture was but a drop in the bucket for the Israeli people as they suffered through their Babylonian exile. We can grasp a small understanding of their hopelessness, their wish for it to be over, and their sense of futility in trying to imagine a future where their lives would once again be free.
This fifth wave of the Pandemic has added to our despair, where once we began to feel we were coming out the end of desolation; numbers were dropping, the light at the end appeared to be drawing near, until the other shoe dropped with the latest mutation, Omicron, a far greater super spreader than we had seen before.
People are tired; tired of talking about; hearing about; thinking about; and living in the shadow of Covid-19. None of our families are spared the assault on mental health that it leaves in its wake. Children’s lives have been disrupted with school and friends; work situations have seen severe upheaval; families have been divided in their response to vaccinations; it is difficult to maintain motivation for even the smallest tasks. Hope is difficult to muster when there is no clear end in sight.
We are not yet aware of the magnitude of debilitating consequences of this time of upheaval – the rising suicides, the increased opioid use, the depression, and listlessness. How does one find a shred of hope and optimism and remain positive about the preciousness of life?
Mixed messages have clouded our understanding; messages from politicians; messages from scientists and medical specialists in the life of viruses; messages from our educators; and messages within our own families. Never before has there been a greater need to discern, on our own, what feels right and which path we choose to follow.
There is a greater need for calling on God for strength and clarity, for presence and hope. Prayer, which often is our last resort, becomes our greatest need to open the line to a God who we sometimes feel has an ear bended in another direction.
Faith comes into play, a faith that relies on recognizing past actions of God in never abandoning nor forsaking God’s people throughout time. All comes to fruition in God’s time, not ours. However, there is evidence that God always walks beside us, even when we least feel the Divine presence.
There are good stories, hopeful stories, stories of people helping one another, encouraging one another, supporting one another and living into the role of God’s helpers in promoting the Kingdom of God.
I ask you to search your day-to-day encounters, and find the glimpses of God moments. Those times, when you can’t help but smile, and know that “you are not alone.” Perhaps, it is a voice of cheer, an act of friendship, a sharing of like-minded thoughts, or a sublime moment of pleasure from a piece of music, or art, or something creative.
This week, my family began to watch “All Creatures Great and Small,” the story of Dr. James Herriot, a Scottish vet in the thirties who began his practice in the English countryside. It is a gentle, heart-warming record of his successes and failures as he won his way into the hearts of the farm people he served. We need more of these, non-violent, non-sexual, visual representations of communal shared experiences. So much of our morals and lessons in life are learned from how we see others respond to life’s greatest challenges.
The character development in this story is endearing. There is one point where the senior vet has been hoping all his working life to be the vet to the Racing establishment, where he is finally offered the position with the caveat that he must fire his assistant for rightly putting down a champion horse who had a twisted bowel. He said “I can’t do that. I will have to turn down the position under those requirements.” A moment that defines his reputation and his stalwart character at the expense of his own desires.
We all have moments like that where our choices reflect our goodness or lack thereof. In these troubled times, we rely on our training and discipline as Christians to govern how we behave with others and how we refuse to let go of the principles that make us compassionate and caring, even when it might appear to be to our benefit in getting ahead.
We will come through this. We will have learned some new lessons, and we will be stronger. We will appreciate more what we have. We will survive and go on to new and greater lengths than we have in the past. Be the part of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit that others need to see; be the encouragement for others and you will find it uplifts you. Call on God for strength and resilience. And know that you are loved beyond measure.
Be strong! Stay Safe! Be of good cheer!
Together in the Service of Jesus Christ