Oranges and Candles

Last Sunday our Children and Youth Minister Sandy Harle introduced us all to a custom known as Christingle.  I was so privileged to be given a bag with dried fruits and candies, a red ribbon, an orange and a candle.  When I was done, I had made a beautiful creation — a Christingle.

 The Orange represents the world, the red ribbon which is wrapped around represents the blood of Jesus. The many fruits represent the fruits of the spirit that are found in the community. The light of course is a reminder of the Light of Christ that gives light in these dark days of Advent. This activity is common in England where it was introduced by the Moravian church.

Beyond the cool Chistingle I was also able to take home an immense amount of gratitude for the gifts, talents and commitment of  a Child and Youth Minister that give life to the youngest saints of our community. Sandy brings great care to her ministry and this event was one of those moments in which I could see how blessed we are to have a minister in our midst who will give us time together as families in our church. Sitting and talking with the children and the families of St Aidan’s on Sunday was a great joy. These are moments for which I give thanks.

Thank you Sandy for all that you do!

You can learn more about Christinge by clicking here

We Need One Another 

We need one anotherIt takes time to grow to a maturity of the heart. … Little by little, as we live and work with others, especially if we are well-guided, we learn to break out of the shell of selfishness and self-centredness where we seek to be brilliant and to prove our goodness, wisdom and power. We receive and give the knocks of life. We all have to discover that there are others like us who have gifts and needs; no one of us is the centre of the world. We are a small but important part in our universe. We all have a part to play. We need one another.    ~ Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, pp. 58-59

Maturity of heart; that’s a gift we certainly need to pray for. Sadly I think sometimes in the church, there is a lot of insecurity. Too many of us needing to be brilliant. Too many of us needing to prove our goodness! Too many of us needing to prove our wisdom! Too many of us needing to exert our power. Into this reality, God’s Spirit does it’s level best. God is able to accomplish anything, under any circumstances. But is it really necessary for us to put our own self centeredness in God’s way? 
God has given much to the world in each and everyone of us. That is hard for some to accept. Sometimes we see ourselves as the center, forgetting that it is God who resides at the center. Vanier hits the nail square on the head in the words above.

I really believe that one of the biggest challenges the leadership of the church faces is – growing mature hearts. Little by little, it can be done. We can break free from our self focused mindset to accept that ‘We all have a part to play!’ Little by little we can come to realize that ‘We need one another!’ 

Sadly many see themselves as God’s ONE gift to the church forgetting that we are ALL ‘small but important parts of the universe.’ 

There is an ordination tonight in the Diocese Huron. I do hope that part of what we pray for, for these new leaders in the church, is what Vanier refers to as ‘maturity of heart.’ I pray that all who lead in the church may know what valued members they are in the Body of Christ. I pray that, as many members of one body, all who lead may know their unique gift and role. I pray that in bringing those gifts that those who are raised up not need to diminish another’s gift in order to offer their own. I pray that all who are raised up, know and understand that they need not prove themselves – they just need to BE themselves. Each of us is A gift – not the THE gift to the church. 

This post from Vanier, received this morning via email, is timely for me. I needed to read it. I pray it may be useful for others in churchland as well. I pray that we understand and embrace the fact that we need one another! We cannot do this alone! 


Advent 1 – Why Not Wake up this Morning

Today was the first Sunday of Advent. St Aidan’s had a great celebration. The children did a wonderful job of building the Advent Wreath with our Celebrant today – Greg Smith.

Today I invited us to take some time to reflect on the “Greening Power of God.” Hildegard of Bingen wrote a great deal about vertitidis. 

In his book Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times, Matthew Fox writes;

In Hildegard’s view of things, “all creation” is active. It isn’t passive—not just sitting there, not enduring in a mode of “couchpotatoitis.” Quite the opposite. All creation is awakened and called. It boasts a calling, a vocation, a reason for being, an invitation to participate and make things happen. This is true of stones and rocks, of trees and animals, of birds and sun and moon. And it’s surely true of humans. We are called to “co-create,” to live out our awakening, our calling, our greening power, our creativity and verdancy.

My sermon today was a call to become aware of what God is doing, in nature/creation, in our built environment, in our church community and in ourselves. It was a call to wake up to the Incarnation.

Here is the audio













Philip Jakob Preaches the Reign of Christ

What a weekend we had! St Aidan’s was fortunate to have world class liturgical animator Phil Jakob with us. Phil stayed with Catherinanne and I over the weekend as he came to town to lead a Mission for the Deanery of London. I first met Phil at the Abbey of Iona while we were on pilgrimage there in 2010. I was moved by Phil’s faith and his ability to bear witness to it with word and song. Phil  lead our mission on Saturday and all who were present bore witness to these gifts. Phil was also present to the Faculty of Theology at HUC on Friday. He worked hard while he was here.  Philip who has played organs from Notre Dame to Sacré Coeur, and cathedrals of Chartres, Beauvais, Laon, Rheims, Soissons, Bergerac, Toulouse, Ypres, Ghent, as well as several other churches in the UK, Belgium, Holland and Spain.  Phil Jakob was Music Director in the Diocese of Hallem in the UK. When he was let go as a result of poor stewardship and financial mismanagement The people of St Lawrence in Tampa Florida saw great opportunity and jumped at the change to bring this world class talent to North America. I am glad they did – it meant he was so much closer. It was a joy to reignite a friendship forged on the sacred soil of Iona.

Here is an audio recording of Phil’s preaching. Within it, he introduces a new piece of music of Marty Haugen. St Aidan’s church was the first place to pray these words. We were honoured and blessed to do so.  Thank you Philip for a tremendous weekend.



The trouble with today’s celebration of Christ the King is that it can lead us to spend the day, the month, the year or our entire discipleship life in simply worshipping the undoubted greatness of Jesus Christ, God-made-man. Worship is only one element in discipleship.

Another, and more challenging element,is to enflesh the person of Jesus Christ in our own lives, priest, prophet and king (as we are all baptised). My old Bishop in UK, John Rawsthorne, now retired but very active, used to say that our full, active and conscious participation in the Eucharist is completed by our full, active and conscious participation in action for justice in the world. We will be familiar with the writings of the apostle James …Prayer without action means nothing!

Discipleship can be costly. Where Jesus went we are invited to follow. So let’s look at today’s Gospel ….

Jesus Christ was sent to his death by religious people who may have thought they were doing the right thing. They bring him before the Roman authority.
Pilate is in a fix. He has the authority to send Jesus to his death or to free him. He admits to finding no fault with him but prefers to wash his hands of responsibility regarding his fate. He hears the truth in his heart but, fearing a riot of protest from the mob, seems to lack the integrity to carry the truth into his own actions.

In other accounts of the same event Jesus says very little to defend himself. He remains silent to questioning. Since he is Truth, why should he need to defend what he is? I am reminded of the advice of St Francis

‘Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words.’

There are several instances in the Gospel narratives when we might wonder why God did not intervene. Divine intervention would have made everything so much easier. But then God would have denied the very freedom he gave humanity – the freedom to choose good or evil. Truth or untruth.

“Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice”

Truth is a virtue we are all invited to reflect in our lives. For Jesus says, ‘The truth will set you free’.
What is our truth??

When we see a report of an atrocity in the media do we reel with horror?
Has the casual access we daily have to such horror anesthetized our senses?
I recall being in the company of a friend who visibly broke down when news broke of another bombing in Ireland, this time in the town of Omagh.
The bombing brought with it the death of innocent by-standers. She was so connected to her fellow humanity and their pain was hers.

Do we rejoice with hope at news of the landslide election victory of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar? Are we surprised that the topic of her first meeting with the military powers was a non-violent solution to the country’s challenges? Do we greet good news stories with tears of joy and tragedy with tears of sadness?
Where is our truth?

Do we confront convenient lies?
In the aftermath of the killings in Paris last week I heard several instances of anti-Islamic comment from ordinary people in the bar I frequent.

Attempts to introduce my understanding that such extremism betrayed Islam, that Islamic scholars had issued a public statement denouncing this extremism and that ordinary Muslims were afraid of an ignorant backlash from their neighbours were all met with disbelief. They admitted that they had never encountered a Muslim but felt confident enough to express ignorant and negative opinions about them.

Then I went to my Facebook account and found one friend, Alison, commenting:

“I’m really upset that some of my Facebook friends are sharing furious rants about yesterday’s terrorist attacks and calling for terrible revenge. What we need now is not more violence but to work and pray for love, peace and justice to prevail.
‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.’


Others of my friends had super-imposed a French flag on their profile photos. They never did the same for the recent bringing down of a Russian plane or for the killing of innocents in Kenya the day after attacks in Paris. Collective conscience can be so selective and so media-driven.

But what is our truth?

I was really impressed by the way in which Canada, and particularly the churches owned its responsibility for the mistreatment of First Nations people As witnessed in the June report of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Not every nation has reacted with the same integrity.

In its 400 pages are detailed witness statements and harrowing evidence about the treatment of children in ‘residential schools’ in what is described as ‘cultural genocide’. Truth sets a nation free to become truly human – multicultural even, to be one nation: many cultures. Not for nothing does one of my colleagues in the Iona Community say “God’s favourite colour is tartan!”

This openness has already led you in this parish of St Aidan to consider how it might respond to the refugee movements from Syria and elsewhere. This is a wholly Christian attitude. The welcome we extend to the stranger is a characteristic we share with followers of both Judaic and Islamic faiths. And in greeting the stranger we often welcome angels in disguise!

Sing IN THESE TIMES by Marty Haugen

When I was living in UK I sold my house in one affluent part of Sheffield and moved into a much larger house in the most run-down part of the city. I had friends there and had become impressed by the sense of community in that area. But even still my friends could not understand why I needed a 6-bedroom house. Even I was skeptical!

Then opportunity came my way.
Sheffield became one of the major dispersal areas for asylum seekers in UK. The system could not really cope with the massive influx of broken people. And in time communities began to respond to their needs for food, learning English and friendship. Occasionally this led to legal representation as some refugees were described as bogus or illegal. These are terrible and most objectionable labels to place on any human being. When government support to an asylum seeker was terminated for whatever reason, what was he or she to do, prevented from earning a living and without food or housing?

I was fortunate enough to be able to offer my spare rooms to accommodate some of them. Over a period of 3 years I gained immensely from the experience of sharing what, by the grace of God, I had with those who had nothing. I only stopped hosting people when the processing of asylum cases became more efficient and they were either accepted or deported more speedily.

Some of my guests were deported but others were eventually welcomed into UK or, in the case of Seraphim, transferred to Australia. Seraphim had been a well-known radio broadcaster in Congo and chose to speak the truth which led to his arrest and torture. He managed to escape and eventually arrived in England where he spent 7 years awaiting a decision about his case for asylum. His wife and 7 children had been in a refugee camp in Malawi before being transferred to Australia where they now live happily together.

On one occasion my mother promised to visit me in Sheffield and I took the opportunity to mention that there would be another person, Seraphim, staying with me. When she heard the details she asked if I felt safe, if this was legal. She had read convenient lies in her chosen newspaper and had believed them, but it was an unexpected encounter with a human being behind the headlines that changed her mind.

Our opinions are formed by received instruction and by our life experiences. When these experiences force us to confront previously conceived ideas we may also change our minds. This is a sign of our maturity as human beings: the ability to change our minds when our previously conceived notions are challenged by injustice or untruth.

Jesus was a bit like my mum.

An unexpected encounter with a foreign woman (the Syro-Phonecian woman) caused him to confront his own pre-conceptions and to widen the understanding of his mission to embrace all nations rather than simply his own.

So where do we all go from here? How should we respond to the Gospel today?

We know that evil flourishes when good people do nothing. When Mother Teresa was asked how she managed to touch the lives of so many thousands of people she replied; “One person at a time.”

So be strong.
Let’s be the people God created us to be.
We are the body of Christ and not the corpse.


Affirmation of Faith
written by Allan Boesak

It is not true that this world and its inhabitants are doomed to die and be lost.


It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction.


It is not true That violence and hatred shall have the last word, And that war and destruction have come to stay for ever.


It is not true That we are simply victims of the powers of evil that seek to rule the world.


It is not true That we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,who are the prophets of the church, before we can do anything.


It is not true That our dreams of liberation of humankind, our dreams of justice, of human dignity, of peace, are not meant for this earth and its history.


Please feel free to leave your comments and feedback.

Scripture and Refugees

IMG_6454In the wake of the terror bombings in Paris last week there is much debate about Syrian Refugees. Unfortunately, much of the discourse is driven my misinformation and half-truths. When we see the kind of barbaric and senseless violence that we saw last week, it is not at all surprising that fear might lay hold of our hearts.

I believe that we who are members of the church need to place our voice in the public square as a people who support Refugee Resettlement. I am heartened by the response from so many Christian Communities across Canada who have done the work necessary to rescue Syrian Families from the terror that they have been living. I can include St Aidan’s in that group, as well as the Deanery of London. Our church community has begun the work to bring two families here. Our Deanery is ready to also begin work for our first two families.

We have a strong history in being a people who offer sanctuary and help to refugees. Perhaps the church is so compelled because Jesus himself was a refugee. We have plenty of reason to reach out, to be welcoming, and to be hospitable.

I read a piece entitled What the Bible Says About How to Treat Refugees[1] on Relevant Magazine’s webpage, In it they list twelve passages of scripture that address how we as a people of God ought to be present to those who need help, those who are without a place to call home. It was well done – so here they are – lifted straight from that page

Love Refugees As Yourself

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

Leave Food for the Poor and the Foreigner

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

God Loves the Foreigner Residing Among You

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

The Sin of Sodom: They Did Not Help the Poor and Needy

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)

Do Not Oppress a Foreigner

Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)

Do Not Deprive Foreigners Among You of Justice

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:5)

Do Whatever the Foreigner Asks of You

“As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. (1 Kings 8:41-44)

Leave Your Door Open to the Traveler

No stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler (Job, discussing his devotion to God) (Job 31:32)

Invite the Stranger In

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:25-36)

We Were All Baptized By One Spirit

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

Have Mercy on Your Neighbor

He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-37)

So with the strength of Scripture behind us and the call of Jesus echoing in our ears let us be present to this world as people who act in faith. There are plenty responding out of fear. We are people of light, people of faith – let us respond with the loving witness and mercy that is the hallmark of our baptismal promises.

[1]


We MUST Pray!

How do I feel about the terror attacks in Paris?
I have been asked a few times in the past couple of days.
I have also had to contend with reading and digesting more than enough anger and hatred than I care to take in — especially when it comes from people I love and respect.

SO — I am posting my sermon here! This will give you a sense of how I feel and what I am thinking about in the days following a week of terror attacks. Please feel free to share — please feel free to disagree — The comment section is open. It is not a forum for hatred however and disrespectful, or xenophobic comments will be removed.

Loosely speaking the text of my sermon is posted below… with some exceptions and changes.

Sermon – In the Wake of Parish Terror Attacks – WE MUST PRAY

Begin by praying Psalm 43 ….

Darkness will not drive out darkness – only light can do that! – MLK

This week has been one of the very worst.

We have all been rocked by what we have witness come across our TV screens, our front pages, our twitter feeds … etc.

The terror that fell upon Paris on Friday is an affront to humanity everywhere. It has shocked us all.

Here the words of faith leaders:

Pope Francis:

‘I am moved and I am saddened…There is no religious or human justification for it’

Justin Welby – Archbishop of Canterbury:

Tragic Paris, desperate news of deep tragedy, with heartbreak for so many. We weep with those affected, pray for deliverance and justice.

Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Catholic archbishop of Paris:

In the face of human violence, may we receive the grace of a steady heart, free of hatred. May the moderation, temperance and self-control that everyone has shown up to now continue throughout the coming weeks and months. May no one allow themselves to get caught up in panic or hate. Let us ask God for the grace to be peacemakers. We must never despair of the possibility of peace, if it is justice that we are building.

Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain

“This attack is being claimed by the group calling themselves ‘Islamic State’,” he said. “There is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by our faith.”

International Abrahamic Forum

The International Abrahamic Forum, comprising Muslims, Christians and Jews, strongly condemns the horrific terrorist attacks carried out in Paris.
We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the innocent people who lost their lives in these vicious inhumane attacks and pray for the full and speedy recovery of the wounded. These barbaric acts stand contrary to everything that Islam represents. We express our solidarity with the French people and pray that peace and reconciliation between all the children of Abraham will prevail.

IAF Co-chairs Rabbi Ehud Bandel and Dr Mustafa Baig 
and Project Coordinator Francesca Frazer

Bishop Bob Bennett

It is important that our prayers do not end with Paris and this tragedy alone.  Pray for our world which seems to be increasingly full of deep violence and pain.  Pray for those who will be unfairly targeted after this attack because they share religion or race with the attackers.  Pray for all of us, that we do not become what we fear.

So since Friday – I have been trying to pull together my thoughts. I have done so prayerfully because honestly – these things have a way of really leaving us without words.

Here are some of my thoughts – I confess – not all of them.

Why pray ask some? – Prayer will not do anything. I disagree.
We run the risk of becoming what we condemn.We Need to Pray!Some are asking why would God put this tragedy upon the people of france? God did not. People filled with hate did that. We need to pray!

Many people now have to figure out how to live in the midst of the unspeakable aftermath of Friday in Paris. We need to pray!

AFTER the violence in Paris I became aware of the violence of this week —
The people of Beirut suffered a suicide bombing on Friday – 43 dead over 240 hospitalized. We Need to Pray!

The people of Baghdad suffered a Suicide Bombing at a Funeral on Thursday.  19 dead and 33 hospitalized My prayers are for the people of all races and nationalities, my prayers are for leaders around the word. We Need to Pray!

I have been asking myself of I, along with much of the West place different values on different lives? Are we as outraged at the killing of those in the Mid-east as we are at those in Paris? We need to pray!

My prayers are that we now allow the hate that inspired attacks on innocents this week turn us to hate. We need to pray!

We need to pray in part because our humanity is intertwined with all humanity and when others hurt – we should feel that hurt. We need to pray because we often value some lives more than others and that is wrong. We need to pray because we need our hearts to remain firm in Love. We Need to Pray!

And most of all We need to pray because hate is insidious and it is the work of the dark one — when these things happen. Hate is breathing down our necks — we need to pray to be people swift on our feet to put distance between ourselves and that hate. We need to pray that we do not become what we most despise. We Need to Pray!

In the words of Martin Luther King –
“Darkness cannot drive out Darkness – only LIGHT can do that!”

Today’s gospel is a reminder that the Kingdom is not just around the corder we are in the midst of war and earthquake and confusion. Those are not the harbingers of the kingdom…

We pray – “Thy Kingdom come ON EARTH as it is in heaven!”We search for God’s reign, we pray that we may begin to truly live it. It will become real when we have the wisdom to put aside the ways of war and violence and embrace peace and shalom. In the words of Isaiah…

Many nations will go and say,
“Come, let’s go up to the Lord’s mountain,
to the house of Jacob’s God
so that he may teach us his ways
and we may walk in God’s paths.”
Instruction will come from Zion;
the Lord’s word from Jerusalem.
God will judge between the nations,
and settle disputes of mighty nations.
Then they will beat their swords into iron plows
and their spears into pruning tools.
Nation will not take up sword against nation;
they will no longer learn how to make war.
Come, …
let’s walk by the Lord’s light.

God weeps at this kind of human failure. God weeps all the more when our response is to follow the leading of Darkness.

I close with these words from Jeremiah – I believe they reflect how God is present in this very difficult week of violence:

A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and wailing.
It’s Rachel crying for her children;
she refuses to be consoled,
because her children are no more.
The Lord proclaims:
Keep your voice from crying
and your eyes from weeping,
because your endurance will be rewarded, declares the Lord.
They will return from the land of their enemy!
There’s hope for your future,
declares the Lord. Your children will return home!

As is always the case – your feedback is most welcomed here. Simply post your comments below. 

“We Must Make Start”

1waterYesterday we collected ourselves together for worship by bringing water from all over the world – literally. Stories were told of waters from Porto, to New Zealand, from Port Elgin, ON to the Glaciers of Norway [Ask Richard Gillam about his near death experience collecting water for our font]. It was a great time of worship, of celebration of the water and of making a start!

We are at that time of year when people come together again after long summers, — and we prepare to make the first steps together into a busy fall season and winter season with loads of church activity. “We must make start!”

We come together around a new effort to sponsor a refugee family from Syria. There is much to do to make this happen — but we had to make the first steps. We have raised $31 000 in one week. “We have made start!” Now we will assemble the rich people resources we have at St Aidan’s to make us people ready – “We must make start!”

We enjoyed a BBQ, we enjoyed one another’s company, we prayed, we sang, we celebrated, we remembered St Aidan, we journey together, we broke bread, we churched!

Many thanks to Greg Smith and our Worship Planning Team for your work and vision.

Here is the sermon – with remarks from John Davidson included.

Red Tape Challenge

This is an update on last week’s blog post.

After church on Sunday I was overwhelmed with the immediate and strong support. A number of you have come forward and committed $19 000 of the $27000/$30000 we will need to sponsor a Syrian Refugee Family. We are 2/3 of the way there in one week. That is tremendous. The People of God are good in this place. We are quickly at work to show that Mercy trumps Judgement.

We also have had a number of people step forward to become part of the Committee needed to make application and to do the work necessary for settlement when the time comes. Again – the People of God are awesome in this place. We are quickly at work to show that Mercy trumps Judgement.

The other great movement that has come to life is the #RedTapeChallenge. After church last Sunday John Davidson came to me and told me he had some thoughts for a grass roots idea. Something he would call the Red Tape Challenge. How it works? Well a donation is made to St Aidan’s or another place of worship working to bring Syrian Refugees to Canada, then tear up a very Canadian product, duct tape, on video and posted to social media if possible, as a call to the folks in Ottawa to cut through the red tape and speed up the process to help rescue these folks from the hell that they have been living in. Its a great moment when someone responds so immediately to a call for action in a sermon. We are quickly at work to show that Mercy trumps Judgement.

In the days ahead, you too can take the #RedTapeChallenge — here is John Davidson’s call to action followed by a couple of videos showing how you can participate.

Mercy Trumps Judgement

[As always, your comments, thoughts, and feedback would be most welcome] 

A Sermon Dedicated to Alan Kurdi
As the lifeless body is dead, so faith without actions is dead.

Who among us was not deeply impacted by the image if three year old Alan Kurdi washed up on the beech in Turkey? I have been prayerfully considering what response is appropriate. The first thing I needed to do was convict myself of my lack of effort on this front when this has been an issue for so very long. My first response needed to be to seek forgiveness for not stepping up sooner. Alan Kurdi’s little body on that beech opened my eyes. I was wilfully blind to what people are suffering.  There are millions of people fleeing persecution. That little boy’s death was my moment of having my sight restored and my ears unstopped. There are many more Alan Kurdis. What that in mind it is important for me to commit to personally give to a family who needs to be freed from the Hell that they are fleeing. There is no Christian response that can be rooted in being greed, or judgement. I need to commit, time, money, and effort to do something about this humanitarian crisis. I also realize that my efforts must be joined with a community effort. To that end I have called on our community to come come together to sponsor a Syrian family.

The call was well received. We will require approximately $27 000 to bring a family here. This week I received text messages and emails letting me know that if we do something there will be support. Those commitments totalled $3000. Today by the time we had left church, another $2500 was committed.  There is a vibration of God’s mercy and compassion welling up.

The Epistle reading today from the book of James is clear – “Mercy trumps judgement!” So I am calling on all of us to step up! I am asking us to step away from the electoral rhetoric that we have been listening to during this silly season called an election campaign. That means avoiding the trap of judgement. So when you begin to say “What will they do when they get here?” – beware of the trap called judgement! Remember MERCY. When you begin to say – “Will it be a Muslim family or a Christian Family?” – Beware the trap called judgement! Remember MERCY When you find yourself asking, “Why should Canada have to do any of this?” – beware of the trap called judgement! Remember MERCY. When you begin to leap to the conclusion that we just don’t have the resources, beware of the trap called greed! Remember MERCY. 

There is much work to be done. Let’s get to work together and do what we can to help this refugee crisis. If you want to help in any way, please be in touch with me. You can email me at We will need finincial commitments, we will need volunteers to form a Refugee Committee, we will need prayers. We need a joint effort by the people of God.

Today’s Reading from James

My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory. Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Here, sit at my feet.” Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges?

My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make life difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who insult the good name spoken over you at your baptism?

You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself. But when you show favoritism, you are committing a sin, and by that same law you are exposed as a lawbreaker. Anyone who tries to keep all of the Law but fails at one point is guilty of failing to keep all of it. The one who said, Don’t commit adultery, also said, Don’t commit murder. So if you don’t commit adultery but do commit murder, you are a lawbreaker. In every way, then, speak and act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom. There will be no mercy in judgment for anyone who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy overrules judgment.

My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.

Someone might claim, “You have faith and I have action.” But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action. It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear. Are you so slow? Do you need to be shown that faith without actions has no value at all? What about Abraham, our father? Wasn’t he shown to be righteous through his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? See, his faith was at work along with his actions. In fact, his faith was made complete by his faithful actions. So the scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and God regarded him as righteous. What is more, Abraham was called God’s friend. So you see that a person is shown to be righteous through faithful actions and not through faith alone. In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute shown to be righteous when she received the messengers as her guests and then sent them on by another road? As the lifeless body is dead, so faith without actions is dead.