June 22nd. It’s a great day for an anniversary — looking ahead. June 22nd this year was the birth day of a new congregation of the United Church in Hamilton. Its birth — without a name — brings to mind my son Arthur’s birth and his parents naming him. The short story (always best to keep these stories short!) is that Arthur was born on a Saturday and it seemed reasonable (it always seems reasonable at the time) that I would lead worship in my congregations the next day. But we parents were so tired, that by Sunday we hadn’t settled on his name. I led worship in the three congregations of the pastoral charge I served that day. At each one I told them what all of them (of course) already knew — that Cater had given birth to a healthy baby boy. But then…what else would the new father do but share his son’s name? — except I didn’t, because I couldn’t. I know that surprised many of them, but, there it was. A new congregation without a name is another surprise of the same sort I think. Names are important, and what has begun amongst us is too important for us not to name it at the time when it’s the time to name it. In the meantime, we’re beginning to realize that in some very rich way we are living a dream. We are at the beginning of something which we have worked hard to begin, and which has begun because we depended upon those around us and on God for it to begin. On June 22nd then we had a birthday cake at our lunch after the service and before our meeting in which we elected our first Council, Board of Trustees, and Committees. The cake was inscribed with “Happy Birthday” and, instead of a name, the phrase, “We’re United!”
George MacCuish and Trisha Howard, chairs of the St. Giles Council and the Centenary Board respectively until the two congregations ended and became the new congregation without a name, cut the cake. It is kind of fun to observe that the “dividing up” that happened when they cut the cake is kind of a sign of the differences between us that make us so richly who we are and who God intends us to be. “We’re United!” A birthday. A day in the year that will soon enough be an anniversary day. Congratulations, and thanks to each and everyone, whatever your role in this. Much to come.