My first parish was located in rural British Columbia. It was a small congregation, half time ministry spread over four other points.
Often the treasurer would come into my office, close to the end of the month and say, “okay, what bills should we pay this month, and which can we defer to next month?”
This was a common question and a normal way for the parish to operate. Month in and month out ministry happened on a prayer and a shoestring, but somehow the parish managed to get everything paid and accounted for each year.
One day while in the office, I received a phone call from a lawyer in Vancouver. After verifying with me details about the parish, I was told that a former parishioner had left a bequest in her last Will and Testament. After the phone call I didn’t think too much about it and as time passed, soon forgot about the conversation. To my and the parish’s great surprise, several months later we received a cheque for a total of $100,000. No one on parish council had ever seen a cheque for so much money. So excited were we, that the whole parish council went to the bank to deposit the cheque.
Overnight, a parish that was used to conducting ministry on a prayer and a shoestring could imagine and dream dreams that they never thought could be possible. We were able to re-shingle the roof, properly repair the plumbing and several other projects. A gift by one person remembering her former parish in this way transformed a church and a community with her unexpected grace.
Gifts and unexpected grace come to us all the time. Some of them are expected such as the birth a child, while others are unexpected. Thanksgiving is a time when we can reflect and give thanks for the unexpected gifts and grace we have received. Thanksgiving is a time to remember and give thanks to the people in our lives who have had a transformational effect on us.