The Saga continues: The Harper Chronicles 2016
Chuck Harper·Sunday, January 1, 2017
I just looked at last years post. Holy Cow! What a year it has been for us and for so many people. On Facebook and in the media I have heard many say it was a bad year. A lot of change politically, a lot of deaths of entertainers, politicians, wars and rumors of wars. In Canada there was lots of media attention towards fentanyl deaths, homelessness and the economy both good and bad.
For Cindy, our family and I: It was a year of great change as well. In January our oldest son Wes, was spared from a potentially fatal aneurysm, the phone call from him while I was at work that day, was a game changer. Over the next couple months, we found out he had four aneurysm’s, a mass and a couple of auto immune diseases. His families life will never be the same. This was all happening as I was preparing for my ordination training in Vancouver and the service in June here in Vernon. Then came a another job loss. That is another story to be told. Over the next few months we went through some more ups and downs with Wes’ health, Cindy’s health, my moms health and some health wake up calls for me. But we also celebrated great things as well. My mom’s 80th, my 60th, the birth of another grandchild, Bennett Michael DeCnodder. (number 9)! The quiver is getting fuller.
Ordination: For a guy who didn’t want to be a preacher to someone who has had to learn how to speak less and walk more. This has been a journey that started in the late 80’s with the Mustard Seed in Calgary. When I first started in full time ministry with YFC/Calgary. I remember speaking at First Baptist in Summerland, where many of the folks knew me from my youth. I remember a couple of lady’s who I loving call “blue haired” saying to each other ”it’s a miracle”. Indeed it is. Now to be addressed as the Rev. is a bit of a mind blower and a reminder of how far I have come and how much farther I must go.
The Chaplaincy: God gave me a vision just over three years ago to fill a gap and walk along side people and organizations in the city of Vernon. To meet the needs of those who were hurting and struggling in all walks of life. To be a Truthteller and a Peacemaker. As I continue to walk along side men and women from our marginalized population, I get to hang out, share with and encourage people to move forward in their lives. The two big things that have developed this year has been the Homeless Memorial. We lost 15 men and women confirmed losses and possibly more unconfirmed. Mostly from the effects of addiction, poverty and lifestyle choices. One of my friends died behind a dumpster with out a single word being spoken about it. No obit in the newspaper, no comment, like he was not of importance. Homeless related deaths across this country is a big deal! I can guarantee you that if one person was killed at an intersection there would be such an outcry and change would happen. Any life lost should be a big deal. But why not more attention to this travesty? Death of my street friends is a big deal and it can be a daily thing. Especially with the drug issues in our country. This is something I will continue to talk about either with a gentle reminder or to shout it from the mountain top!
This past year I began to converse with some of my friends and coworkers about the need for a more intentional way of speaking truth to our marginalized population and fill a gap in two ways. Food care and spiritual care. We started Vernon Street Church. One Sunday a month we provide a meal, and a church service. We have been averaging about 40 people each Sunday. I have been sharing at a chapel service every Friday and continue to help people along the way. I have an office at our church and I am excited to see how this year progresses.
All in all it has been a very good year.
One final thought. As I have been thinking about the coming year and how life can change in a heart beat. How to prepare for the unpreparable. I was listening to a sermon by Jeff Manion about gratitude. It really spoke to me and it is the challenge I am setting myself for this year. Having an attitude of gratitude! Every day I will write down 3 specific things that I am thankful for. Not things like I am happy that the sun is shining. But things that are very intentional. Like>: I am thankful that my wife likes me. I am thankful that God gave me the heart I have. I am thankful that you my friends will take the time to say something.
Let’s start a new trend this year. Let’s have an attitude of gratitude.