Weekly Worship Streamed live at 10:30 am
We have resumed in-person worship but will continue to live stream the service.
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“Trouble and Grace”
Rev. Jeff Bacon Retirement Message
July 24, 2022
Thank you, Terry. Good morning, everyone. Deb and I have been part of the St. Bart’s online worshipping community since the beginning of February and it’s wonderful to be back in the Sanctuary to participate in-person today.
I’d like to add my thanks to Cheryl for leading worship today, and to all of the other worship leaders who have led worship for St. Bart’s while I’ve been away. And thanks to the Worship Team and to the Board who have kept us all together during the Covid pandemic. Also, a huge thank you to the entire St. Bart’s congregation for your prayers, and for your caring cards and notes. This is the first time that I’ve spoken from the Lectern and I’m blessed to be among you and incredibly grateful to all of you.
It's been a difficult time of transition for me – physically and emotionally. It’s been a difficult time of transition for the whole congregation. Sometimes, it’s in these troubled times that we get glimpses of God moving in our lives. Sometimes it's when our own sense of self-sufficiency is shattered, our defenses are down, and we’re totally vulnerable that we open ourselves to experience the powerful presence of God. This experience fits with the basic four-page sermon that I was taught by my Preaching Professor, Paul Wilson: Page 1 is the trouble in a Bible passage; Page 2 is God’s grace in that passage; Page 3 is that same trouble in our world today; and Page 4 is God’s grace continuing in our lives today. Through the trouble we have faith in God’s grace.
My outlook was particularly troubled as I laid in my hospital bed on the morning of February 4th, ready to be wheeled off for a very long and complicated surgery to repair my neck vertebrae crumbled by cancer. It was dark and quiet in my hospital room and I began to pray, “Dear God …” And then I could only cry. Then I took a deep breath and said, “Amen.” It was the most powerful prayer I have ever prayed, and only God could understand it. A few moments later, I felt comforted and composed as they rolled me off to the operating room. The operation went well and after testing, the cancer was found to be metastatic prostate cancer, for which I have received radiation treatments and continue to receive hormone therapy. And now, I’m able to visit with you today in-person! It’s another story about God - just like in the Bible - moving from trouble to God’s grace. I’m standing here today as evidence of how all of your prayers supported a 15-person surgery team and countless other medical professionals in an ongoing healing miracle. Your prayers made a miraculous difference and I am eternally grateful.
Many of you have experienced God working in similar ways in your own treatments for cancer, or strokes, or heart ailments, or other medical conditions, and you have experienced the power of prayer as your troubles were overcome by the miraculous grace of God.
The first two commandments are to love God and to love our neighbours. Prayer is powerful in a congregation that loves God and loves our neighbours. When we meet together to worship and when we meet together as Committees to serve each other and to serve others, we invite God into our midst and help miracles happen. Pastoral Care, Outreach, Worship, Property, Finance, Men's and Women's Groups, etc., etc., are all ways to experience God working in our lives. So, get involved as you are able, and help facilitate others to get involved. God will be working in and among you.
I have loved serving you as your minister. St. Bart’s is now choosing a new minister as we move through trouble, with and by the power and grace of God. Thanks be to God. And thanks to all of you for a wonder-filled time together at St. Bart’s. Amen.
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