Time Away – Feb. 15-22, 2023 – February 8, 2023

Dear Grace United Church,

If I told you that I cannot remember many birthday celebrations, while growing up in Lebanon – but only four and a fifth one that is very blurry – you would not believe me. Four birthday celebrations in the first fifteen years of my life. Of course it did not help that the Civil War in Lebanon began when I was not even eight years old (1975).

My very first memory of a birthday celebration was in 1977, my 10th birthday, when my sister Ruth and my dad, Vramshabouh, surprised me at school. They showed up with a cake at my classroom right before our lunch recess – had a simple homemade cake with red confection sugar on top with bananas. This was at the Armenian Evangelical School, Shamlian Tatigian.

My second memory of a birthday celebration that I recall was 1979. That was the year following the fifteen-day war of 1978, when we did not see the sun for 10 days. My precious mother wanted to celebrate my birthday and make me forget a little about all my older siblings being away from Lebanon, except my sister, Choughik. We were the only two left with mom and dad out of six children. She invited my classmates to our one-bedroom apartment and we served cake and juice.

The third birthday celebration I remember was at the school again, but this time it was the church youth group gathering in December of 1980, celebrating the November and December youth birthdays. There were four of us, Me, Raffi, Annie and  Suzie. Each family had sent a cake for their birthday kid.

The fourth birthday that I recall, was on Nov. 20, 1982, where school friends and Christian Girls group from the Armenian Brethren Church gathered at our small apartment and celebrated my 15th birthday – I did not know that this will be my last birthday celebration in my home town. The next one was in Los Angeles with brand new classmates and friends.

You might be wondering why I am telling you all this? Well, because life is an interesting school where we learn many, many things in our childhood, and this shapes our journey ahead.

I am sharing these memories with you because I believe everything we do stems from experiences of life. Many of you know that I often take time off from work around my birthday in November. I do this, because I have learned how precious life is and each birthday is a True Gift, therefore I want to spend time with my family as much as possible.

In the beginning of our relationship, Gary and I always took time off for his birthday and for mine, but for some reason, his birthday celebrations got sidetracked and have not been given the attention that he deserves. Therefore, this year, I have decided to take a week vacation for Gary’s birthday (Feb. 16) and celebrate this amazing man who has helped me get to this point of my life – without his support, I cannot accomplish all that I do for the Glory of God.

Beloved, I am so grateful to Tammy Fergusson to lead worship on Feb. 19. It is always good to hear God’s Message through different voices. Would you invite a friend, a neighbour or a friend and bring them along to church to celebrate God’s Presence especially on the Transfiguration Sunday – marking the end of the Season of Epiphany and preparing to enter the Season of Lent. Yes, by God’s Grace, I will be back to lead worship on Feb. 26, and we will enter the Season of Lent together and also share Holy Communion.

I know God is always with you and me, however, should there be any pastoral care needs, Rev. Lynne Gardiner, my colleague and soul sister, is ready to step in and attend to the needs. Her telephone number is (613) 267-3855. By e-mail: pastor@bethelchurchrideauferry.ca 

I remain humbly your spiritual leader who loves you more today than yesterday.

God’s servant-daughter,
Rev. Takouhi Demirdjian-Petro  
Incumbent minister – GUC-Gananoque

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