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Jun1ThuJune 1, 2023
I missed the deadlines for the last two issues of Good Gracious; and for that I offer my most sincere apology. It certainly was not my intent. The past three months have been an amazing journey of hard work, fun, travel, emotional highs and lows, sickness and recovery. Let’s take a walk together.
There have been two very large “things” that have kept me busy. First is leading a team through the process of establishing the church plant; now known as: “Living Faith Bible Church”. My task here is to shepherd the processes of creating the church and seeking CRA approval for a charitable organisation. With the help of several dedicated people, this is moving forward apace.
Secondly, it was again my honour to return to the Netherlands to participate in the celebrations of the Liberation of the Netherlands. In 2015, it was my privilege to lead the band on a 10 day tour for the 70th Anniversary; and this year, I returned for the 75th + 3 for another 10 day tour. Oh my – the emotional highs and lows were exhausting!
We travelled to Belgium to play for the daily memorial service at the Menin Gate in Ypres, where my Grandmother’s brother Duncan’s name is inscribed. The next morning I stood on Vimy Ridge, where my grandfather Harold and his brother Cecil fought side by side – only one returned. The emotions as we played at the monument were beyond description. I had the opportunity to kneel at my Great-uncle Cecil’s grave. Throughout the Netherlands, I walked in the footsteps of two of my uncles who were very much a part of the Liberation – both came home. Many members of the Band met family members for the first time. We participated in more than twenty remembrance services and each time my good friend Charles Armstrong played Last Post I was overwhelmed by the sacrifices that these young Canadians had made. That coupled with the memories of close friends and comrades who had also met a violent death in the service of Canada were emotionally exhausting. Tears of love and pride flowed and the entire team became as one.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 (NIV)
This is one of many verses that I take very much to heart. It is often cited during remembrance services and for that it is so apt. Sometimes, however, we forget that these words were spoken by Jesus as he was preparing the disciples for the loss they would soon experience – his crucifixion. He is telling them that he loves them (and the world) so much, that he is prepared to lay down his life for them – for us. There is no greater love than this! I encourage you to read Chapter 15 in its entirety.
Sometime in my last few days in the Netherlands, I contracted COVID. Let me say that I do not want to go through that again. Even today, some twenty days after the positive test, I am still feeling the effects of that nasty bug – despite now testing “clean”.
The other day, a new chapter in my Pipe Band life began. Following a memorial parade at Beechwood Cemetery, I was awarded the honorific – Pipe Sergeant Emeritus. This marked the completion of more than 23 years of front-line musical leadership with the Pipe Band and the beginning of what should be a less strenuous role of advising and supporting the new leaders.
As I stood listening to the Pipe Major speak, I noticed an inscription on the headstone in front of me. It quoted a poem by Percy Shelly. “MUSIC, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory…” How apt is that? The life I love is making music with my friends (Willie Nelson) – so I thanked them all for the music; for giving it to me (ABBA).
Thanks for walking with me today. To his disciples, Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15: 9-17 (NIV)
You are my friends and I want you to know that I love each and every one of you. We may not always agree, but that’s ok. I will love you anyway.