Seek Asylum at Sanctuary

Beside 513 Talbot Street sits a very special place called Sanctuary. It makes use of an addition to the main church building called ‘the atrium’. Two churches working together, sharing the same space. One Church. Often, the ‘Church-outside-the-church’. The people who come here are looking for something; food for the most part, as there are two meals provided each week. There are others who come looking for something more than physical sustenance. They come early, before the supper for fellowship, cards and coffee. Spiritual needs are taken care of.

I have been attending all of the functions at Sanctuary for nearly four years and have the others neatly divided into two camps: those who have had their lives destroyed, and those who are questioning their faith. Of course i’m sitting on the fence between the two. Many are lonely and looking for fellowship. Some can be alone for short periods in solitude; but few can endure isolation for any length of time and remain healthy. I believe that we are social creatures. The food may seem like it is the only thing drawing the folks in, but the fellowship, such as it is, keeps them coming back. It may not be as close-knit as some other churches, but it does welcome outsiders, many of whom have no where else to go because of drugs, alcohol, and mental health. They don’t get neatly dressed for the Bible study and they don’t put on their Sunday best for the circle meeting, possibly because they don’t own any fine and fancy clothing for such a purpose.

Paul talked about the social gospel and the scum of the earth congregation in the first century. It still exists, and will probably continue into the future if prophecy can be relied upon. It’s just that these days rent is offered free.

By Dan Lenart

New Office Space!

For the first time ever, Sanctuary London has found some designated space to call ‘HOME’. As of February 2015, we will be renting space on the main floor of 531 Talbot Street. We are so thankful for all the people who have helped to make this possible, and are extremely excited about the increased ministry opportunities this space will provide. Please come by to say hi and see our space soon!

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Special thanks to:

Talbot Street Church
Rodney Lover from Lover’s AtWork Office Furniture
Tom Miles
Eldon and Lena Clelland
Gary and Helen Nash
Bob and Marie Spindler
Bill and Marg Reckman
Eric St. Pierre
Keith and Eithne Griffiths
Adam Mackey
Derek Gwynn

Canoe Raffle

Congratulations to Mr. Al Miller who won the Canoe Raffle.

Al Miller

Al shared with us that he is extremely excited about being able to take the canoe up to the cottage to teach his 9 grandchildren how to paddle.

Huge thank you to everyone for your support!

imageInterested in winning this cedar strip canoe? Only two weeks left!
Albert DeVries built this with a great team from our faith community, Sanctuary London, and our partner Talbot Street Church. Tickets are $10 each. 500 tickets total. Canoe is valued at $3500. 16 foot Prospector.
All funds raised will of coarse be split between Sanctuary and Talbot Street to pay for our programming. Thanks for your support!
Draw is on January 21/15. Please contact Darryl at 519-280-8895 or darryl@sanctuarylondon.ca 

Family Christmas

“John, I’m surprised to see you here tonight. I thought you had said you wouldn’t be able to make it to our Christmas Eve dinner because you would be over at your parent’s place?”

John has been hanging out with the Sanctuary community for a number of years. Living in a geared to income apartment now, he was new to the streets when we first met him. He was pushed out of his family home at a young age as a result of deep conflict between he and his father. Christmas was the one time of year they would get together and attempt to put their differences aside. 

“Don’t you remember last year?” John asked.

…And I do remember chatting with John last year the day after his family Christmas gathering. John told me that he may have eaten, and definitely drank way too much. It was all he could do to cope with the family berating him with questions: His dad, ‘got a job yet?’, Uncle Bill, ‘got a job yet?’, Uncle Fred, ‘got a job yet?’ The last thing John said really stuck out in my mind. “Just once I would like to be able to come and relax and enjoy myself and to have people happy to see me, just for me, and not be reminded of the fact that I am a complete failure in life.”…

“Ya, I remember what happened,” I told him, “But this is the one time in the entire year you get to see them, and you told me on Monday that I wouldn’t see you till after Christmas.”

I know, that was my plan, but I asked my mom if we could change our plans so that I could be here tonight to have Christmas dinner with my real family.

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Shoe Offerings

As I was leaving the fireside room during a Sanctuary drop-in, I almost ran head-on into Len. He was waiting for me, excited to show me the new boots he’d gotten that morning. “Check out my new boots, Debra! I’ve never had boots like this before… no holes, warm, leather… just in time for winter too.” His eyes gleamed as he held out one foot, then the other; he was happy to have them, but also happy to have someone to share his experience with. The boots were part of a generous donation of footwear from Talbot Street Church this past November.                                                               

For several years now, Sanctuary London and Talbot Street Church have lived out a partnership: two churches sharing one physical space, and learning how to love the poor and excluded together. While it isn’t always easy to know the best way, we have intentionally sought a direction of being ‘one’ in following Christ and his calling. Last October, Talbot Street Church embraced a sermon series called “Follow Me,” and imagined the reality of walking in Jesus’ footsteps—how to follow him in genuine ways, and go where he goes.

What does it mean to really follow him, especially when God calls two very different communities such as Sanctuary and Talbot, to follow him together? And when we are faced with community callings of mutuality, reciprocity, vulnerability, and togetherness, what better symbol of learning to walk together, than a communion table filled with donated shoes for Sanctuary London? As Pastor Steve shared, Jesus’ invitation to follow him means he believes in us that we can “live like him, love like him, forgive like him, be like him.” But how?

Living, loving, forgiving, and being like him also means stepping out of the boat—not an easy thing. When the rich and poor come together, we often have fears around starting relationships with people who seem so different from us, so ‘other.’ But God still calls us to walk on the water. When ordinary people come together with Christ’s love at the centre, extraordinary things happen.

I have been part of Sanctuary for four years now, but on the morning of the offering of shoes, I was playing piano as part of Talbot Street Worship. On either side of the communion table were two empty tables, covered in simple blue tablecloths and surrounded with a sense of anticipation. We accompanied communion with the song “Oceans.” As Leanna sang, her voice filled the church with beauty and love. And when I looked up momentarily from the piano, I was vaguely aware of the presence of a crowd coming up to the tables…

Shoes_14_edited1_BW1The lyrics of the song tore through my heart, like wind through leaves: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me…” I looked up, and suddenly realized that both tables were piled high with shoes and boots, and my heart ached with love. Not only were they being donated to our Sanctuary friends, who had walked hundreds of miles with nowhere to go and nowhere to belong, but the shoes also symbolized our desire to walk with those who are hurting, to love the poor, to trust without borders, to let faith take the lead.

When two communities come together, it means risking to open up a space of love. Sometimes it means saying “I don’t know how, but I want to.” It might mean walking into a Sanctuary meal drop-in and sitting down with someone to hear their story. The shoes our friends wear literally walk them through their darkest days, and what helps them most, is having someone to walk the journey with them and to meet them where they are—to ‘walk in their shoes’ with them.

100 Miles for HOME

“Darryl, I need you to come with me….. Like Now!” Today, just as we were cleaning up from drop-in, one of our younger friends crashed into the atrium and begged me to come with him. His eyes were desperate enough that I knew this might just be one of those ‘God-ordained interruptions’, and that I had better drop what I was doing and go. I gave Gil one of those looks as if to say, “You good here if I leave for a bit?”, and he gave one of his, “I got this, you better go” looks in return.

“We just found out that my girlfriend is pregnant a few weeks ago, and now she’s sitting on the toilet bleeding like crazy and I don’t know what to do.” Skippy is relatively new to our community, and honestly I don’t feel like I know him very well (not to mention I hadn’t even met his girlfriend at this point!). It always amazes me when one of our friends is so filled with humility that they have the strength to share their brokenness with us. And so together we walked a few blocks over to the building where he lives.

Run

At the very heart of poverty, at least at the heart of most of North American poverty, is a lack of connection. A lack of relationship with other human beings. This is often the pain that cuts so deep that when things begin to go wrong, there is no one left to call. This is why Gil and I are cycling/running 100 Miles on September 20th. Not only are we trying to raise awareness and funds to allow the work of Sanctuary London to continue, but we also want to experience a day of potentially painful endurance so that we can relate to and stand in solidarity with so many of our friends whose daily lives are battles of endurance.

Transformation in Darkness

When you hold a tiny seed in the palm of your hand, it looks plain. Insignificant. Smaller than a grain of rice. But inside that tiny seed lies something uniquely beautiful that God is creating deep in the soil’s darkness. This past May, we planted seeds for Sanctuary’s community garden. After we had carefully pressed the seeds into soil in their small seed containers, there was nothing much to see—we began waiting for what seemed the most remarkable: tiny green sprouts emerging from soil. Except this year, I was aware that the remarkable often happens long before we ever see that first green shoot emerging…

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 11.33.16 AMOne year ago May, we planted our community garden for the first time. As our garden filled with tomatoes, carrots, beans, peppers, brussel sprouts, and more, I was constantly reminded of how these plants were symbolic of new things God was creating in and around us: moments of his Kingdom in our Sanctuary community—God was growing beautiful seeds in each of us and in our relationships. Many 

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of our Sanctuary friends struggle in various ways: mental health issues, poverty, addictions, trauma, unhealthy relationships, homelessness, social disconnection, loneliness, and more. But there is also hope and resilience, healing, wanting better, and seeking joy. As the garden plants sprung up, and I witnessed the abundance of green filling the garden, it was a symbol for me of God’s faithfulness: “Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

I thought I understood what God was showing me: the importance of celebrating and proclaiming these good things that I perceived with my very own eyes—the plants I could see growing in abundance. But then, this past winter, God showed me a deeper meaning of his promise of a new thing—a trust in what we could not see. During a season of darkness both for myself and a few of our Sanctuary friends, God felt far away. And with darkness often comes a time of questioning: where was God during the darkness? Where was he when we had lost hope, wrestled with grief, depression, and illness, and longed for family, belonging, renewed marriage, reconciliation, healing, forgiveness, and recovery?

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 11.31.43 AMIn the midst of darkness, God showed me that he often does his very best work in a place we cannot yet perceive—under the heavy soil, where that tiny seed is held in the fullest darkness, and where no human eye can see. I began to think more deeply about God’s transformation in our darkness. For a seed to become a plant, it must first crack open and come apart; it must go through germination, deep in the darkness of soil. The seed absorbs water, and its coat swells and softens. The cells of the seed divide and the root grows down into soil, anchoring the plant and letting it absorb nutrients. The curved neck of the seedling emerges from the seed, pushing slowly up through the soil and finally into the light, where the first seed leaves open.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 11.19.41 AMIn our own human darkness, what feels like death can actually be life—a transformation of our heart and spirit that causes our own leaves to open fully. Perhaps a call to change, growth, healing, and deeper relationship with God. Or something else uniquely wonderful. But in the place where it feels like no light can reach, God is doing a new thing in us! This year, as we planted seeds, I finally understood that the waiting time—when seeds are below the soil’s surface and all we can see is plain, bare soil—is actually the most beautiful part. He is working in ways we cannot yet imagine or perceive. Without this waiting time, we would never have the chance to behold the new and remarkable things God is doing, to see them transform, take root, grow, and spring up, and to trust and celebrate the harvest that is coming.