Easter is not only a time to eat chocolate bunnies, hunt for eggs and celebrate the rebirth of spring. For Christians the world over, it is a time to reflect on Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the new life they have gained because of their belief in him.
Rick and Jan Gay are two such Christians.
They moved to Summerland in 1997, when Rick became the pastor of the Alliance Church. Although he is an ordained Reverend, most people refer to him as “Pastor Rick.”
“For me, my favourite word is hope,” explained Rick. “Our belief is that when Christ died and then came back to life he conquered death. There is the promise of a new life after this life. There is a future for us to look forward to and that’s a belief that means a lot to us.”
As well as fulfilling his role as pastor for the church, Rick volunteers as chaplain for the Summerland Legion and for the Summerland Steam hockey team.
“I’m very grateful to our church for allowing me to do this, because there is a fair bit of time that is committed to these organizations as a volunteer and I’m pastoring the congregation at the same time,” said Rick.
“They have given me the opportunity to do this and I don’t take that for granted. It’s a wonderful gift that they have given me.”
During his 14 years of service to the Legion, the bulk of his work has been performing funerals and praying with the veterans during hospital and long term care home visitations.
He also acts as emcee at various public events such as V.E. Day, Canada Day and Remembrance Day.
Now in his second year with the Summerland Steam, his main role is to provide a chapel time with the players every other week.
He meets with them in the locker room before practice and gives them a short talk featuring a Bible verse that holds a life lesson therein.
It is not mandatory for the players to attend, but most of them do.
“Pastor Rick” will also pray with the team, especially before they go on a road trip and sometimes before a game.
“I can’t say enough about the way they have treated me and have received me. It has been very amazing,” he said. “I am grateful for my relationships with both these organizations.”
Although different from that of her husband, Jan too has her own community involvements.
“I like to be in the background. I love being with the children and being one on one with people,” she said. “I teach Children’s Church. That is where my heart is.”
For the Gays it is their sense of gratitude for what they have in their own lives, their children, grandchildren, faith and church, that spurs them on in service to others.
“The church isn’t just behind the doors,” said Jan. “It’s going out into the community.”
“The church has been called to go,” explained Rick.
“We have to be able to find ways of taking who we are out into our community and touching people where they are and not always expecting them to come to us.”
Jan said that many people in their church volunteer in the community, explaining that as Christians, they wanted to be able to show others the difference their faith has made in their lives and for others to be able to experience it too. She used an illustration to convey this concept.
“I think about the Easter Lilly,” she said. “The symbol of this dead bulb is that you put it into the ground and you see the shoots of new life coming out of it and then the fragrance that comes after. We are like that dead bulb and then Christ comes into our lives and we shoot up from the ground and we want the fragrance of Christ to shine in our lives and out to others.”
Whether we share in the Christian faith of this couple or whether Easter signifies something different for us, one thing is for certain; we are all surrounded by the new signs of life that only spring can bring!