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
August 3, 2020
TO: Friends of Melrose
FROM: Rev. Sonia Ireson
Greetings in the name of the One who loves us and holds us dear…
The major part of my holidays has come to a close. Back to work today and then off for one more week for Sarah’s wedding on August 15. However, you won’t notice the difference as with the month of July, services will continue to be prepared and videoed ahead.
The Pandemic has significantly altered our plans for this upcoming wedding, however, we consider ourselves lucky to be able to go ahead with a scaled down version. 80 have been invited rather than the initial 200 and will be accommodated on the family property beside our small river. The planning and logistics of the set up and food have consumed most of my time here on holidays and are being constantly worked and reworked on a daily basis to ensure the safety of all.
Imagine trying to feed five thousand. Yesterday’s Gospel reading was Matthew’s account of the feeding of the five thousand from five loaves and two fish. I’d like to have that ability as I plan hors d’oeuvres only, in place of a sit-down dinner.
Picture the scene on the hillside on that warm sunny afternoon. You are somewhere in the crowd listening to Jesus. You have heard of this itinerant preacher and the rumours of his miracles, his wise teachings and his compassionate healings.
You have been followers of John who has told you about the Messiah coming and that Jesus is that Messiah. Your beloved Prophet, John has been cruelly beheaded by Herod and you are seeking comfort from Jesus.
You have travelled over dusty roads bringing your family with you because you are desperately in need of what he is offering. Your life is difficult; your youngest child was born with spina bifida and can’t walk; you have no money for treatment and even have difficulty putting food on the table. Your faith in God providing for your family is growing faint.
You and your family arrived on the hillside, tired and dusty and above all full of hunger. You are but a few in the midst of thousands who like you have come to listen and to be nourished with the Word of a Prophet that you believe has come from God. You listen with enthusiasm, filled with hope, but you are aware it will be some time before you and your family will sit down to a meal.
The miracle of the loaves and fish is the only one that appears in all four gospels. John handles it a little differently being the only one to report how the disciples obtained the food. The disciples spot a young boy carrying a basket with five loaves and two fish. He offers it to the disciples who know that it will be totally ineffective in feeding the crowd. Jesus accepts it gratefully, lifts the bread giving thanks, breaks it and places it back into the basket. How you hunger, but you know there is not even enough to feed your own family let alone others who are likely as famished as you.
Jesus hands the basket to the disciples, possibly as a way of preparing them for their ongoing ministry without him. Time after time they reach into the basket and not once come up empty. One by one, the bread and the fish are multiplied and shared. No one goes hungry. There is a hush over the crowd as each one becomes aware that they are on hallowed ground.
Some skeptics would say that each of the families brought something with them and it was shared so that all were able to eat. Four gospels align their reports of this example of Jesus’ compassion in responding to the physical needs of the people.
This story reminds us of the Old Testament Second Kings passage about the widow with the unending supply of oil. She owes a debt and fears that her two sons will be taken into slavery to pay back the debt. She pleads with Elisha to help her. He asks what she has in her home and she finds a small jar of olive oil. He told her to borrow jars from neighbours and pour a little bit of oil into each jar. The jars were then miraculously filled with oil and Elisha told her to sell the oil and pay her debt. She followed his advice, trusted and obeyed and demonstrated her faith. She was able to live comfortably on the sale of the excess oil.
There are many times in our lives when we experience a shortage, when we worry that we do not have enough to eat or to pay our bills. And then out of nowhere God provides.
The folk tale of The Stone Soup illustrates how a meal appears out of nothing with a little cooperation on the part of all. Travellers arrive at a town that is very poor. They bring out a pot of water and place it on a central fire pit in the middle of the town square. They put a stone in it and ask the people of the town for donations. No one has anything in their cupboards to give. The travellers say that a small amount of carrots would go good and one family dashes off home to find their remaining carrots; how this soup would benefit from some onion, another family retrieves their remaining onion from their pantry; and yet another, potatoes, until there is a beautiful aroma coming from the large pot of soup.
Everyone gathers around and shares a bowl of the delicious soup. Alone, they could not have accomplished such a delicious meal, but together they have made a sumptuous feast.
We experience this in community when we come together for our Pot Lucks. They become a point of shared ministry for more than just nutritious food. They are an opportunity for us to feed our souls. Our spirits are lifted, we are encouraged and renewed in hope in the shared community that meets in Jesus’ name. We miss that! We have come to appreciate more than ever that which we have not been able to enjoy and we yearn for the day when we can be together again. Our memories serve us well and will hold us until we can join together again in safety.
Be strong! Stay safe! Be of good cheer!
Together in the Service of Jesus Christ