Perfection Not Required
Have you ever attended a presentation where the speaker exuded sincerity and authenticity from the moment that he walked up to the lectern? The Reverend Ed Gratton is just such a speaker.
Last fall, a group of Parkdalers had the distinct pleasure of hearing Ed Gratton speak at our fourth annual Spirit-given Gifts workshop. As minister of Queenswood United Church in the Orleans sector of Ottawa and chair of the Stewardship Committee at Ottawa Presbytery, he was an obvious choice for keynote speaker, and we were not disappointed!
An engaging, energetic preacher, Ed opened his presentation by identifying our “frame of mind” as a key aspect in developing and deploying our Spirit-given gifts and abilities. As Christians, we want to help, but being human, we tend to worry about whether we will be a success. We worry that, if our efforts to help do not go well, they will become a setback for us (not to mention the embarrassment that we will feel). We even worry about potential obstacles and barriers when we should have faith and focus on the blessings that will flow from the ministry in which we are participating. Ed read Matthew 6:25-34 (excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount), which reminds us not to worry.
As Ed pointed out, perfection is not what is needed (nor are we called to perfection by God). We need to let go of our worry by prayerfully seeking God in our reflections on how we will develop and use our skills and gifts for His glory. We should take our cues from the tasks and activities that we enjoy. To that end, the workshop questionnaire was a wonderful life-giving, intentional tool for all participants.
Ed reminded us that service to God should be about feeling joy in tangible ways, which is an excellent way to let go of worries that can otherwise stifle us and strangle the Holy Spirit within us. If we believe in the depths of our soul that we enjoy using certain gifts and talents, is that not God working within us?
Although some of us like to work in isolation, Ed encouraged us to use these gifts and skills in community as much as possible. Admittedly, Jesus went off in isolation in order to reflect and pray, but he always served God in community. There is indeed something special about the support that one feels when we work with others who are like-minded and passionate about serving God. It is rewarding, and it fills us with hope, joy and peace.
Ed reassured us that we do not need to know it all when we offer to take on a task or a ministry. The living out of our Christian faith is a lifelong journey, and he reminded us that even the disciples learned as they went. The key was that they were following Christ then, just as we are humbly trying to follow Christ now.
In closing, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Rev. Ed Gratton for his inspired presentation. It was truly a blessing to all.
Barbara Hennessy, Chair