Sunday March 22- Lent 5
We are all grains that are gathered into the one bread…
Sunday March 22- Lent 5
We are all grains that are gathered into the one bread…
Yesterday we bade farewell to The Right Rev’d Robert Townshend. The Cathedral Church of St Paul was filled. Bob was a bishop, a friend, a husband, a father, a poppa, a brother, and uncle, a cousin, a mentor, – a servant of Jesus Christ. The liturgy was a wonderful celebration. The funeral was a great expression of love. Andra you spoke so well about your Dad. The ‘short Easter sermon’ offered by The Rev’d Canon Dr Todd Townshend was wonderful. I shall forever have with me the image – “even with our toes curled over the abyss, we make our song – Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.”
My thanks to the family for including me in the liturgy when there were so many people who loved Bob and so many who participated. I was honoured to lead the prayers with Mary.
As part of my prayers last night I penned this hymn in dedication to Bob.
We Come Now to Worship
(Hymn Tune – Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise)
We come now to worship, to pray to the Lord,
as we sing and gather, and open the word.
Bread has been gathered and Wine has been poured
we bring our hearts open to Jesus our Lord
We seek to be people who serve Jesus Christ,
knowing full well that it comes with a price.
To serve, we must follow, and be where Christ dwells
be children of Light against darkness of hell.
The wheat of communion we gather for bread
Is fruit from a seed that in earth once was dead
no longer a seed that exists on its own
A harvest of love from its dying is grown
We also are grains that are gathered for bread
once kneaded, and broken the world might be fed;
We give them Jesus, compassion and hope
forgiveness and mercy, compassion and love.
God grant us the courage to die to old ways,
step out of the darkness into Light of day.
As Children of Light may we all strive to be
a people whose actions draw all close to Thee.
Music: St Denio
Words: Kevin George – Copyright 2015
Written in Memory of the Right Rev’d Robert Townshend
Scripture Reference: John 12:20-33
I was privileged to get to know Bob better since becoming rector of St. Aidan’s. He gave people Jesus in his words, and in his witness – Thank you Bob for you many kindnesses to the people of St. Aidan’s and to the wider church. May you rest in peace, and rise in glory.
Pat, Andra & Patrick – Grace & Lilly, Todd & Stacey, – Tyne, Seth, & Samuel, and Mary — you all remain in our prayers.
I was not scheduled to preach today. Life has a way of sometimes getting in the way of plans however and I found myself in the pulpit today – which is exactly where I needed to be. The Scheduled preacher was Andra O’Neill. Her Dad is Bishop Bob Townshend. On early Saturday morning Bob returned to his creator. Last night I spent some time prayerfully reflecting on the readings for Lent 4. It was a quiet and peaceful time along at the church. My prayers were with Pat, Mary, Andra and Patrick, Todd and Stacey – and for course with Grace, Lilly, Tyne, Seth and Samuel. After a goodly amount of prayer and time of quiet – this is what I needed to share – enjoy! This Audio is from my remarks this morning – my apologies for the singing!
On this Second Sunday of Lent, St Aidan’s celebrated Volunteer for Ministry Sunday. A couple of weeks ago we had our Vestry meeting (Our Annual General Meeting). At that meeting I called on the congregation to prayerfully discern how they might like to get involved further at St Aidan’s. There are a lot of strong ministries at St Aidan’s – each of them requiring time, energy , and resource to be effective. Today the congregation was given opportunity to talk with people who are currently offering leadership to twenty different Ministries in our parish. At Coffee Hour our team leaders had clip boards denoting the ministry that they were representing and folks moved about and signed up for further involvement in the life our church. Not everyone could be with us today – so — to those who could not be with us today, this blog and sermon post is your opportunity to be in touch and let me know where you might like to serve.
What Ministries are looking for support? Glad you asked…..This Picture has the following people (Left to Right) representing the following ministries:
I am pleased to say that we had a great level of participation today. With almost all of our ministries having new people sign on. We managed all of that with NO WATER at the church today – Turns out that if its cold enough, long enough, pipes will freeze. We had a decent turn out nonetheless and there was a great spirit of hopefulness and helpfulness.
If you are a member who was unable to be present today and would like to join your fellow travellers on the road who volunteered today, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate where you might like to serve.
My Sermon this morning –
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I do love the season of Lent.
Today our community gathered around the Word and heard the call to journey into our own wilderness and seek to find God tending to us a people ‘signed with the sign of the cross and marked as Christ’s own forever.’ Jenn Renouf, Student of theology at Huron University College and our Student Minister preached today, she also did all the liturgy prep – prayers, hymns, choosing of collects from test propers, etc. It was all very well done.
Jenn delivered a good sermon that gave us much to think about as we journey together in Lent. The mention of ‘da woods and da bay’ was a great touch too… Jenn is a Newfoundlander – but a West Coaster…. anyway – Here is the audio and text of her preaching today;
I Speak to you in the Name of our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As many of you know I am from the Holy land of Newfoundland. The images of the wilderness and the water are life giving, life taking, and life sustaining. They were, and still for some today are, the way of life, the way in which one provides for their family. For me going out da bay or going up in da woods is a peaceful renewing experience. They are places that I associate with family time, and also places in which I find myself so close to God. However, I am familiar with the dangers of the water and the wilderness. I have had the experience of knowing families that have lost loved ones to the dangers of both. What does this have to do with today?
The readings for today have two images: the water of baptism and the wilderness. We have in the first reading from Gen. a reminder of the covenant that God has made with Noah and all the creatures of the earth. What do we need in-order to see the rainbow? Water! This occurred after the great flood. The gospel reading reminds us of the story of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan and how afterwards the spirit drove him to the wilderness. We know that the image of water is a sign of the covenants, firstly the covenant that God has made with us, and secondly the covenant through baptism we have made with God. But what about this wilderness, what is the wilderness? The wilderness. Many of us sometimes feel as if we are in the wilderness. That the obstacles we are facing leave us in a place of abandonment, struggling on our own. It may have been the loss of a job. It may have been a misunderstanding with a friend or family member that causes a rift. It may have been a struggle your child was going through while you could only stand by and observe. It may have been the end of a marriage. It may have been a medical diagnosis. It may have been the death of a loved one. I’m sure that in the moment, each of us would be forgiven for thinking that we were utterly alone. In a vast wilderness, with no sign of seeing, or hope of reaching, the other side. This horrible situation was unfolding in our life, we were powerless to change the course of that event. And we feel utterly alone.
We sometimes forget that we are not alone, we sometimes forget that God is always with us, even in the darkest of moments in our lives. These situations and moments of loneliness can easily be defined as times of wilderness, however, I am going to pose to you another wilderness, one that may not be so easy to see and that is the wilderness of everyday life; a wilderness where the pressures and actions of our world tempt us to distance ourselves from our relationship with God and to forget the covenant that we made at our Baptism.
In Mark’s Gospel we are told that it is Jesus that sees the heavens open up, the dove descending upon him, and hears the voice of God saying You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ He has seen the spirit has entered into him, he has heard the call of the Father, but yet Before Jesus begins his ministry he is sent into the wilderness to pray, where he was among the wild beasts and was tempted by Satan for 40 days.
Here we are in the year 2015 and we have entered into a 40 day journey ourselves. We began our Journey of following Christ through the waters of baptism, where we are signed with the cross and marked as Christ’s own forever, during that time promises were made either for ourselves or on our behalf. In this 40 day Lenten journey, we are called into the wilderness to spend more time with our creator, to spend more time in prayer, reflecting upon those things that separate ourselves from God, that distract us from the work of the Kingdom, that keep us from fulfilling the baptismal covenant that we made.
We struggle sometimes in this wilderness because it forces us into a time of self examination. I know for myself, I struggle with having to look at myself, look at the flaws, the brokenness, the hurt, and the disobedience towards God. Yet, Lent is one of my favourite seasons of the church year, because it helps me enter into that examination, even though I am not comfortable, sometimes even scared of what I may find, if I remember the words from my baptism Jennifer, I sign you with the cross and mark you as Christ’s own forever, I know that I am not alone, and that through this journey within my inner wilderness I am able to build a stronger relationship with God. I said that for me the wilderness, is a place that I find myself close to God. I am away from the business of life, I am away from the distractions of everyday, and I am surrounded by the beautiful creation. This is what Lent calls us to, we are called into a time of reflection, time away from the distractions of life and into a concentrated time of prayer. Even though the beauty of this inner wilderness is sometime harder to see then the beauty of nature, there is a beauty in the self-examination as we learn more about ourselves, our way of life, and we spend time in prayer growing close to our creator, redeemer and sustainer.
At the end of this Journey of Lent, we will gather together and celebrate the renewal of our baptismal vows, we recommit ourselves to following Christ and the work of God’s Kingdom. We are able to do this as we have taken the time to face the obstacles in our lives that have pulled us away from Christ, so that we are able to fully give all that we are to Christ. Just as Jesus entered into the wilderness before he started his ministry, we too must enter into the wilderness and face those wild beasts and temptations that hold us back from our relationship with Christ. My prayer for each of us is that we are able to find the strength in our faith to enter into our own wilderness, and that we as a community can also enter into the wilderness of St. Aidan’s and reflect upon what temptations, and wild beast maybe holding back this congregation from fully being engaged in the ministries in which God has called us to. Amen
Today my walk to Jerusalem took a decidedly different turn. The road looked remarkably like a suburban mall. Amazing how the path looked very much like ceramic tile!!
I had to do some waiting, so I decided to get my 5 km in by doing laps at the upper level of Westmount Mall. It was dry and it was warm; to warm in fact.
I learned that the lighter winter boots are not designed for walking indoors. Too warm, and a cause for blisters…. Ouch.
In any event – I was most grateful for a day of walking without a windchill.
As I made my laps, there were two senior couples standing chatting at the top of the escalator. I could not help but notice that each time I passed them (plus 10 times) their aging faces were full of joy. These two couples had not seen each other fora bit – coming into one another’s company was clearly a cause of great comfort and delight. They stood together for over 30 minutes. The last time I passed them they were sharing warm handshakes and hugs. “It was such a good surprise to see you today.” Philosopher Martin Buber insisted “When … people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” I was fortunate to witness that electricity every 400 paces for half and hour. Real joy and real delight are gifts that are fruits of relationships, of friendships, and the work we put into them. God is made alive in the electricity between us when we are with others.
Nowadays most of us shop like treasure hunters..The one couple had a shopping bag. But I assure you whatever she was carrying in it, whatever she went in there to pick up, was not the treasure she carried out. The real treasure was rekindling a relationship, recalling moments lived, and laughing with ‘old friends.’
As I walked a little closer to the Holy City tonight, I was reminded of those people who have enriched my life and with whom I have many shared memories. I gave thanks to God as I walked for times of laughter and times when people have been with me in sorrow. Each person and each memory is a reminder of how God is most present in our relationships.
Tonight I am thankful for people who join me on the journey…. Like Catherinanne ~~~ she joined me for the last lap!
I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”
― Helen Keller
Tonight was one of those face stinging nights for a walk. That said – it was gorgeous. The sky was clear, nothing was falling, and the crisp and cold sounds of winter were good company.
My walk tonight came after a day of faith, fellowship, and imposition of Ashes. It was a great day and the half hour to pray and walk, as the day closed, was a gift. With my head tilted so far down this evening I was less aware of what was around me, Although I did discover a route that took me around a couple of streets not far from home that I did not know existed until tonight. It occurred to me that the Journey Toward Easter – Lent – may also be replete with roads that are near to me, as yet unexplored, and they may call me to examine the possibilities these paths have to offer. Perhaps we all need to take notice of the journeys that we could make with people very close to us – each day.
It was good to walk tonight after a couple of celebrations of Ash Wednesday – clear air, clear thoughts, and a clear number of days ahead to challenge myself to come closer to God.
These past couple of evenings have been bitterly cold – which stalled my walk to Jerusalem. But I got back on the trail this morning doubled up. It is still a little on the cool side – but very beautiful out there.
A few days ago, I started reading Ellen Davis Book Getting Involved: Rediscovering the Old Testament. On my walk this afternoon, as I keep looking at my walking app to see if I was making good mileage, a paragraph I read a few nights ago popped into my head…
Many of us have to read for our jobs, and we pride ourselves on how rapidly we can move through vast quantities of print. But the Bible discourages us from making mileage a measure of success. In many cases, its riches are perceptible only to those who move slowly, like mushroom hunters, peering closely where at first there appears to be nothing at all to see. Almost always it is useful to linger over a word or a phrase that seems strangely chosen…For it is by means of words that the Bible performs its revelatory function. An unexpected word can jar us into contemplating new possibilities about how things really are. An ambiguous word jogs our minds onto a completely different track. Often when reading one portion of scripture, we run across words that echo another passage. Thus the biblical writers lead us subtly to make connections—between events in the text and likewise between events in our lives—that we had never previously imagined.
– Ellen Davis
It occurred to me that my walks have been great times of contemplation – but less so when I am worried about how far I have gone and how long it took me. I have been able on some evenings to linger over the sights, sounds and smells around me. Davis is quite right that we often do the same with scripture, or for that matter other books as well. But the Bible is really rich in using stories, moments, and images that, when properly absorbed, can reveal to us things that are new in each reading. I encourage us all to revisit how we read our sacred text, take our sacred walks, listen to our sacred music… take a moment. It is Revelatory! Want know more about this book and discuss it with others? You can join us we linger over its words together as a book group on Wednesday’s throughout Lent!
As I walked I, today, I also offered prayers of thanksgiving for the people of the Parish of St Aidan’s and for the opportunity I have to serve with them. Yesterday we had a very positive and life-giving Vestry Meeting! Thank you to all who participated, and all who took on ministries for the year ahead. We look forward now to March 1 which will be our VOLUNTEER MINISTRY SUNDAY. We are entering into a couple of weeks of prayerfully discerning how we serve God in this parish. We have much to look forward to as we build on great 2014.
Here is a peak of some of our 2014 fun…
Today was Vestry Sunday. My report focused on how we might all step up to respond to God’s call to us…
My Sermon was focussed on how we might be transformed by the Transfigured Jesus
Here is the audio of my Preaching
From My Vestry Report –
At a moment when right-wing Christianity is ascendant, when religion worldwide is rife with fundamentalist crusades and exclusionary ideology, I stumbled into a radically inclusive faith centered on sacraments and action. What I found wasn’t about angels or going to church or trying to be ‘good’ in a pious, idealized way. It wasn’t about arguing a doctrine… the Virgin birth, predestination, the sinfulness of homosexuality and divorce… or pledging blind allegiance to a denomination. I was, as the Prophet said, hungry and thirsting for righteousness. I found it at the eternal and material core of Christianity: body, blood, bread, wine, poured out freely, shared by all. I discovered a religion rooted in the most ordinary yet subversive practice: at a dinner table where everyone is welcome, where the despised and the outcasts are honored…And so I became a Christian. – Sara Miles
A couple of days ago I was stuck between the driveway at St. Aidans church offices, and Oxford St., West at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It was not pleasant. Spinning my wheels as I tried to edge forward or backwards to get out of the snowbank well cars hit the horn driving by,was frustrating to say the least. A little light flashed on my – allowing me to know that traction control was on. Traction control? Boy, I thought, I could really use some of that “traction control” In the pursuit of life, and the pursuit of ministry.
I will go out on a limb and guess that at some point or another we have all felt as though we were spinning our wheels. Perhaps you have had a project at work that just won’t get off the ground. People are putting up road blocks. Perhaps you have been trying to make progress in a relationship and with each step forward you feel that there is a couple of steps back. Maybe you have been trying to help a friend but no matter what you do, it never seems to help. Perhaps you are a parent trying your best to help your child out but he or she is unable to get ahead. Maybe you have been seeking that coveted promotion or new job, but you are feeling stuck in one position wheels turning.
Truth be told, we all find ourselves at some point or another spinning our weeks and looking for traction control? I am interested to hear how you gained traction when you felt completely stalled, stuck, or obstructed.
Here are some questions I ask myself when I find I am spinning my wheels and getting nowhere:
1. Have I clearly communicated to those around me where it is I expect to get to? People cannot read my mind. Actually people would not want to read my mind! It is critical for me, if I am setting any goal, to clearly articulate where it is I hope to go.
2. Are there obstacles on the road I see ahead of me, and have I considered ways to help remove those obstacles before setting out on my journey? If there are people or problems that are obviously going to be negative energy and or obstacles to moving forward, and consideration must be given to, with honesty and kindness, deal with those roadblocks
3. Have I been communicating the same message, in the same way, over and over again? Is it possible that the message on communicating is difficult for others to understand. Can I rephrase, repackage, and clarify my goals, desires, hopes, dreams, etc. in such a way that others can hear?
4. Have I stopped to ask for help or direction? Sometimes when we are stuck, the best way for us to gain traction, is with the help of others who have journeyed the road before. Who do we know in our lives who have faced similar challenges, fought similar battles, lead similar ministries, etc. reaching out to those who care about us, and to those who have experience in trying to gain traction is critical. Spinning wheels is exhausting work, having experience people give a push is always a bonus.
5. Is it worth it? Sometimes gaining traction takes a great deal of investment of time, energy, resource, and commitment. This question is best asked early on.
6. Have I taken time away from all of the noise of daily living and consulted with God? Have I, in solitude, sought counsel from my creator. Last week we heard in Mark’s Gospel that Jesus took time away from The crowd that assembled to see him. His time away was spent in contemplation and in prayer. Jesus stepping away, ironically, was not an act of isolation but just the opposite. Jesus was reminding those who followed him that he does not act alone. That he makes his decisions, and walks his journey, based on his conversations with God.
Sometimes those questions help me gain traction. It feels pretty good when you have been spinning your wheels for a time and you finally feel traction under your feet – forward momentum.
Please share your stories of wheel spinning, and even better gaining traction. I would love to hear them
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