A Church Built on the Rock

On the first full day of our Nova Scotia vacation we stepped onto the balcony of our bed and breakfast eager to view famous Peggy’s Cove. Except for a beacon from the lighthouse, visibility was poor.  Nova Scotia is known for variable weather. A thick fog rolled in overnight from the Atlantic Ocean. Hoping the fog would lift, my husband and I ventured out to explore the area.  The first landmark we encountered was St. John’s Anglican Church. An open door to the chapel intrigued us. Once inside, we were greeted by a volunteer from the parish who told us people of the cove have worshipped here since 1885.

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The paintings displayed in the chapel impressed me.  Our volunteer guide explained their importance. The first, Storm and Turbulence, features a group of terrified fisherman clinging to the sides of their boat during a terrible storm. One man points across a raging sea. The second painting, Calm and Serenity, depicts Jesus Christ walking on the water with his arm outstretched toward the fishermen. Like the biblical message of Matthew 14:25, the mural communicates the supernatural power of Christ to calm our fears.  The artist, William deGarthe lived in Peggy’s Cove for years. His work relates the dangers of life at sea and the faith of local fishermen. The deGarthe Museum in the village houses many of his works.

Our guide told us six families founded Peggy’s Cove in 1811. Lured by the rich fishing grounds of nearby St. Margaret Bay, these early settlers battled storms, fog, and jagged rocks to eek out a living from the sea.  Some say the village was named for the bay, I prefer the romantic legend about a shipwreck with a lone survivor named Peggy. The young woman fell in love and later married the man who rescued her.  People would come from miles around to listen to “Peggy of the Cove” tell stories.  “Peggy of the Cove” later became Peggy’s Cove.

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Besides their times of trouble on the water, the fishermen experienced hardships on land. The village sits on granite bedrock. Gardening is futile. Drilling is impossible.  For years the community obtained water through a process of collecting rainwater and purifying it with ultraviolet light. Even so, this water is not considered safe for drinking. We were advised to drink bottled water during our stay.

Due to these conditions, the population of Peggy’s Cove has decreased. Consequently, St. John’s Church has also declined in membership.  When faced with the possibility of closing the church, the few remaining members realized the unique opportunity of their location. Thousands of tourists come to the cove during the summer months to photograph the famous lighthouse and tour the quaint fishing village.

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Volunteers decided to open the chapel on weekdays to minister to tourists. Visitors are welcome to share their prayer requests. I felt led to submit a written request along with my  email address. A few weeks ago I received an email from one of the church leaders who thanked me for my visit and asked if I needed additional prayer support. According to his note, over four thousand visitors from all over the world signed the St. John registry in 2016. The tiny congregation is amazed at the way God is blessing their efforts.

St. John’s Anglican Church is a testimony to a statement Jesus made in Matthew 16:18.  “On this rock, I will build my church.”  You can connect with them through Facebook at Friends of Peggy’s Cove Church.

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The Mystique of a New Year

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New year, new you. How often have I heard that phrase? The magazines for sale at the grocery checkout claim anyone can lose ten pounds in one week. I’d like to lose the fat, lose the flab, and get the body I’ve always wanted. Maybe 2017 is the year I will reach my ideal weight. The new year arrives with hope, motivation, and maybe change.

In the past, I’ve made resolutions. My resolutions are usually about some kind of self improvement. I’ve heard some people pray and ask God for a “word for the year.” I admit I was skeptical about this. What makes January 1 so special?  God can speak to us in a variety of ways, according to his timing.  But praying seemed better than resolving.  Praying might lead to the right resolution.  I don’t usually get this personal or spiritual with my posts, but I want to share a prayer I wrote in my journal on January 1, 2017.

Lord, you are Holy.  You are worthy. Thank you for abundant life. It’s a new year Lord. A new year makes for a new beginning.  I pray that I will be open to your word…open to your spirit…open to you. I pray for your will to be done in my life. May I step out of your way, Lord.  Father, some people hear a word which is their word for the year. Is this possible? Is it real? I look to you Lord. Do you have a word for me?

I stopped writing, closed my eyes and waited.  My spirit heard the word, “Go.” You’ve got to be kidding, I thought, “Go?” I wrote it down and waited again. Nothing.

I thanked the Lord for the word, and closed my journal.

My mind was filled with questions. Will this year be a year of travel? Will it be a year for  new experiences? Will I be challenged to step out of my comfort zone? To “Go” means to leave the place you are. “Go” can apply to the physical or spiritual realm. It can mean leaving the fears and failures of the past behind.

The word “Go” is a lot like God, mysterious.

There’s a problem with resolutions. They can be limiting. God’s vision for us is much bigger than our own.  A new year brings an opportunity to be open to his vision, his leading. The question remains, will I have the faith to follow?

Friends, I’m excited to see what opportunities God will bring in 2017.  I believe “Go” means more than going on a diet. At least I hope so.