V...is for Valentine's Day
V...is for Valerie
Valentine's Day is Valerie's birthday.
V...is also the third letter in the word loVe - which was angie's suggested topic for today.
So what better day to write about my minister, the lovely and talented Reverend Valerie?!
Show of hands: who would go to church more often if the minister was a vivacious, enthusiastic, soulful woman with the ability to make Scripture relevant? Well come along to my church then 'cause my Reverend ROCKS!!
Here she is front and centre with the kids for children's time (I didn't take the photo, but it just so happens that's my daughter's head mid-photo peeking around Valerie's shoulder)
Part of Valerie's irresistible appeal is that she usually seems to be speaking straight from her heart; she rarely refers to any written notes. For example: one Sunday she was speaking about tolerance and acceptance of others. At one point, she told us how she was driving to church that morning telling her teenage daughter to be careful in choosing friends and not to get in with the wrong crowd. Then she says "that's when Jesus smacked me upside the head and said you're doing exactly the opposite of what you're going to stand up and preach about in church this morning"...in full Newfie accent (which almost always breaks through when she's animated).
And she really shakes things up from time to time. I've come to believe she'll try anything once. For example, the time our Sunday service turned into a cheerleading session...
Rev. Valerie and cohorts came roaring into the church, pompoms a-waving, shouting:
"Gimme a J!!" ("j" the congregation echoed weakly, thinking what the heck??)...
"Gimme an E!!" ("E", we grew a little bolder, starting to see where this is going)
"Gimme an S!!" ("S!" a bit louder)
"Gimme a U!!!" ("U!!" we hollered back)
"Gimme an S!!" ("S!!!" gettin' into the spirit now)
"What have you got?" ("Jesus!")
(all the while she and her "squad" are doing the typical cheerleading moves with the pompoms, and jumping up and down)
It was great fun, I laughed so hard! Alas, it did not go over quite so well with some of the older ladies. (One of whom once said to me that she thinks the minister's place is behind the pulpit with proper robes on, not wandering all around the sanctuary preaching in street clothes.) I can understand how the cheerleading routine may have been a tad radical for the older crowd, but I lose patience with the resistance to any change at all.
When the UCW (United Church Women) plan a fundraiser, Valerie always pitches in wherever help is needed - peeling potatoes, serving meals, bringing a pot of soup, etc. (And she makes a mean pot of soup, too!) She once hosted a suppertime service (I forget the occasion), at which she made and served spaghetti for everyone in attendance. She enthusiastically joins the choir in singing (and has a beautiful, strong voice herself.)
Not infrequently, Rev. Valerie can move me to tears with the depth of her compassion...seriously, I have blinked back tears on more than one occasion listening to her prayers. One especially poignant prayer was on Mother's Day a couple years ago...as she offered prayers for mothers around the world who struggle to provide for their children and mothers who have lost children, I was not the only one sniffling in the pews!
I consider myself blessed to have encountered this amazing woman along my spiritual path...she inspires me to search for my inner light and to find the strength to share it with the world.
May your hearts be filled with peace and love
(and chocolate...it IS Valentine's day, after all!!)