Lent 1 – We Enter the Wilderness


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;

Text:
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

Jenn is pictured here with Nancy Postons

Jenn is pictured here with Nancy Postons

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My Walk to Jerusalem – Part 7


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

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Cold, Cold, Cold Road to Jerusalem – Part 6


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.

IMG_20150218_140748 2015-02-18 22.43.32 20150218_223829Your opinions and reaction to my writing/preaching are not only welcomed,
but greatly appreciated …
Please add your thoughts by clicking ‘comments’ at the top of my post
to make a public comment!

My Walk to Jerusalem – Part 5 – Learning to Linger


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!FullSizeRender

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…

 

 

 

Vestry 2015 – Jesus Wants You


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

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Gaining Traction


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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

I always love to read your reaction and your feedback to my writing. Please go to the comment section at the top of this blog and add your public remarks there

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Samba Kinda Mamba


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As the London Jazz Orchestra played Samba Kinda Mamba they jumped to their feet! They stepped to the open space on the front floor the theatre and began dancing. It was a dance event – no matter. They clearly have marched to the beat of their own drum for quite a while. Man could they cut a rug! Twirling, spinning, grinding, swinging – they did it all. They were clearly excited to be out on a Thursday evening to enjoy some great music and share one another’s company.

IMG_0051I do not know this couple, but I sure do admire them. The real surprise here is their age. I can’t say for sure, but would have to guess they are octogenarians. His shirt proudly declares that he is “Well Aged.” She is smartly dressed in a vibrant red top and her smile as they danced clearly told a story of love that has spanned many decades. They longingly keep eye contact through their dance. They are in love – and have been for a long time! Looking at they way these two enjoyed one another’s company, I found myself realizing how much I take for granted my own relationships. Life has a way of keeping us all preoccupied with distractions. Distractions from the people we love the most and the relationships that are most life giving and critical. I hope that I live long enough to be able to head out with my love and dance up a storm proudly wearing a shirt that declares proudly – WELL AGED! This couple when they danced were no longer two people, but one image of great love and joy.  Reminded me of this verse from Yates’ poem Among School Children:

O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?”
― W.B. Yeats

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Back row… He’s all about That Bass Our Warden – Jim Smythe

The music these brave and love struck fools danced to was awesome. A free concert by the London Jazz Orchestra at the Central Library was awesome. In the rhythm section was a terrific bassist by the name of Jim Smythe! Jim and his friends in this big band jazz group are really a treasure here in the city of London. Their next FREE concert takes place on April 23rd at 7:30 pm. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you mark that date on your calendar and head out for a real gift to our community by artist who care about their craft.

My Walk to Jerusalem – Part 4 – Lessons from Music


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Tonight I listened to music on shuffle while I walked… It was helpful as I went almost double the distance tonight.

Here is what I learned… well some of it anyway

Black Velvet Band – The Irish Rovers:
I was reminded of my brother-in-law Gary who really can sing up a storm when he get’s ‘in the mood.’ I love it when he sings this song.

Lesson – Be very careful if you are courting – you may find yourself duped by a lovely “Colleen” and find yourself in trouble with the law. If you set out to not ‘stroll very far,’ STICK TO YOUR PLAN!

Being reminded of good times singing this with  family leaves me to say – I’m glad it was on my playlist.

Everything is Beautiful – Daniel O’Donnell:

This piece of music reminds me of my Dad as he listened to his Danny O’Donnell CD quite a bit.

“There is none so blind,
as he who will not see.
We must not close our eyes,
we must let our thoughts be free.”

Little wonder Dad loved this so much. “Under God’s heaven the world is going to find a way…..”

Lesson – At times we are blind because we we ‘will not’ see. We choose not to see the beauty in all those around us. Another Lesson — I miss my Dad – but the again I already know that… so I’m not sure that was a lesson.
I am glad this was on my playlist


Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job – George Thorogood
Lesson – Sometimes people with long hair end up doing ok in life…. even better than their big brothers Bob. I would not know — For the record…. my big brother Bob is very industrious, has a respectable haircut that is a smidge shorter than mine! Also – He has a REAL job!  He also plays a mean air guitar – I am glad to have had this on my playlist.

We Belong – Pat Benatar
Catherinanne and I once say Pat Benatar at the Cleary in Windsor. I swear to you it was the loudest rock and roll concert I have every attended. She and her husband were a riot. Anyhow love this song of hers in particular…

We belong to the light
We belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words
We’ve both fallen under

Whatever we deny or embrace
For worse or for better
We belong, we belong
We belong together

Lesson – Sometimes relationships are complicated. Often we say things that we ought not to say to people we love. In the midst of commitment we are sometimes called to love in all manner life – the light, the thunder, the noise of our own voices, for better or worse – together we belong. Catherinanne LOVES this song – I love Catherinanne – it’s good that it was on the playlist!

Don’t Cry Joni – Conway Twitty

Joni was 15! She loved her neighbour Jimmy she delivered him a note

her plea…

Jimmy please say you’ll wait for me
I’ll grow up someday you’ll see
Saving all my kisses just for you
Signed with love forever true

His reply …?

Joni, Joni please don’t cry
You’ll forget me by and by
You’re just fifteen I’m twenty two
And Joni I just can’t wait for you

We are told that her teardrops fell like rain that day. A few years later Jimmy returns to ask Joni to marry him – declaring his love and how foolish he was to rebuff her…

Her reply to his proposal ….

Jimmy, Jimmy please don’t cry
You’ll forget me by and by
It’s been five years since you’ve been gone
Jimmy I married your best friend John

OUCH!

Lesson –  impatience can be very costly – we are told in fact that Jimmy’s teardrops fell like rain that day!

Also – listening to this gave me pause to pray for another brother – my eldest sibling James — he really loves Conway Twitty. I was glad it was on my play list.

Somewhere – Sean McCann
If you have not heard this lullaby written and sung by one of the former members of Great Big Sea you really need to download it – it’s magnificent.
Here are the lyrics:

 Hush now baby don’t you cry / Let no tear fall from your eyes
Too soon you’ll know / where tears come from and where they go

Refrain
Somewhere a heart is breaking
A ship is lost at sea
A soul is been forsaken
People fighting to be free
Somewhere a star is falling
A bird afraid to fly
A lonesome lovers calling
So baby dry your eyes

If in darkness, you day begins / Find the light and let it in
You’re not alone / even so far away from home – Refrain 

Walking tonight under the cold night sky I was thankful for people like my mother, my sisters Helen and Elaine who were adults when I was an infant. Thankful for the nurture they gave to me.

Lesson – The song itself reminded me no matter what I face – I do not face it alone. Each day we seek light to let it in.

Was glad this song was on my play list.

Grey Foggy Day – Eddie Coffey
Now this is a Newfoundland song that may not be known to most of you. It is a ballad of a man missing his home on the Cape Shore of Newfoundland – funny how you can miss even fog. Tonight listening to this music I was reminded of how much I miss home at times. The song is a standard at dances at the community centers. It’s a two step. My brother Lloyd came to mind. He loves to dance the two-step to this song – and often with our sister-in-law Clara! They can really cut a rug.

Lesson – There is no place in London, Ontario to see two people tear up the floor like Lloyd and Clara do back home. It’s amazing the things you miss. They are not always big things – sometimes they are small but significant.
I am glad this was on my playlist.

Leader of the Band – Dan Folgleberg

I cannot hear this music without thinking of my other brother Darryl. My bother owned Dan Folgleberg’s Greatest Hits – At least I think that was the album — well actually it was a cassette – Do you remember those?  I really loved this song most of all from that album. I would ‘borrow’ that cassette from time to time…. loved the music.

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band

I’m not sure why, but when I hear these words I think of the doxology we say in the Anglican Church.

Glory to God
Whose power working in us
can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
Glory to God, from generation to generation
in the church and in Christ Jesus.

Lesson – This song really speaks to me about follow the great Leader of the Band. We are all making an attempt to imitate the One whose power can do more than we can ask or imagine… even through us… or perhaps I should sy especially through us – from one generation to another.

Plus the brass in the piece is awesome.
I am glad this song was on my play list.

I also learned that the rabbit down the road is not a fan of David Wilcox’s Riverboat Fantasy – ran straight across the street when she heard me and David Wilcox singing….

Can’t think, can’t drink
Anymore whisky
I could’a drunk a river dry
Mmmmm…this old boat she’s
Just sittin’ in the moonlight
Catchin’ the gleam in her eye….

Hard to see... but she is there... Bugsie

Hard to see… but she is there… Bugsie

Of course there were plenty more songs…. but that’s enough learnin’ for one night!

Your opinions and reaction to my writing/preaching are not only welcomed,
but greatly appreciated …
Please add your thoughts by clicking ‘comments’ at the top of my post
to make a public comment!

My Walk to Jerusalem – Part 3


20150209_231248My walk ‘to Jerusalem’ continues. I have taken a little different route each evening so that I might see something different on each walk. Last night my route was a bit of a dud as far as sights goes. The most interest thing I saw was a port-a-john with a great phone number on it – 1 – 855 – 4 – Toilet!  What can I say – not every moment is filled with serious contemplation – some of it is filled with a good belly shaking laugh. [As an aside, it was good to know there was a pit stop on my route should I get short taken].

Last night’s stroll left me with a couple of thoughts to share – I am not a fan of snow. I complain mightily every time the blasted stuff falls. As I have been walking at night around the neighbourhood this past week or so and looking at it piled up at the end of driveways has done little but confirm my dislike of this frozen precipitation. But tonight’s route took me past an open field and, as much as I can see from street lights, it was blanked in an unblemished layer of snow. At once, I saw beauty. Snow usually causes me to use words that would be a misdemeanour of my mandate and a violation of my vocation.  But in just a quick moment it caused me to stop – to look – and to breath; to breath in the creative force of God and to breath out the negativity that builds up by day’s end. In those brief moments, 20150210_232956near that parcel of land which is yet to be spoiled by development, I could see things as they should be. We loved it back home when the local pond was covered in a nice clean blanket of snow. It was cool to glide across it on sleds behind a horse, zip across on a skidoo or get pulled along on a toboggan or pushed on a komatik that my father had built for us. I was pleased tonight to be reminded that even the things that annoy us the most can also be an image of beauty and Grace.

The second image was the view of the city core off in the distance. At the height of the city I was drawn to the brightness downtown London as it sits below us. London looks beautiful from Red

Picture does not capture what i saw.... but... you get the idea

Picture does not capture what i saw…. but… you get the idea

Tail Trail. The city shimmers. Light in the midst of darkness. I offered a prayer that that we might all find a way to shine the Light of Christ in the dark corners of our world. There is no doubt that the closer you get to that shimmering city core, the less sparkle it has. My prayers turned to those whose lives in the inner city do not allow for peaceful walks in quiet neighbourhoods. God help us walk in the footsteps of Jesus toward, the hungry, the lonely, the rejected, the addicted, the abused, the forgotten — the broken. ‘God grant me wisdom to leave the security of my neighbourhood, to journey with you in your neighbourhood. May I be comfortable walking the streets of vulnerability and crossing the intersections of despair and hope with those who struggle to find the way.’
It was a good walk… I look forward to what I might discover tomorrow….

My Walk to Jerusalem – Part 2


2015-02-09 21.54.05Last night on my “Walk to Jerusalem” I was struck by how wonderfully quiet it is on our streets after 11 pm. Stillness! I saw the appeal of talking a ‘walk in the snow.’ It was really cold. So much so that each footstep left a firm print while echoing a loud scrunch into the night air. It was a great time for prayer, and a great time to reflect. It allowed me to think of those who have asked for prayers. It allowed me to take notice of the sights, sounds, and smells around me. I was reminded that I really love the smell of bounce sheets. It was odd… walking on a neighbouring street, the fragrance of fabric softener wafting across my face in the cold winter air made me feel a moment of warmth. It also kindled within me thoughts of home – of my family in Newfoundland. I’m not sure why really. But for some reason it did. Smell has a way triggering memories. For a few seconds the bitterly cold ‘bouncy’ air was redolent of the crispness of Newfoundland night. It was a pleasant and unexpected endowment from this Jerusalem sojourn.

Among the things I saw, was the image of the shadow of a fence against the snow. The light and darkness across the snow left an impression of bars. As I walked ac20150208_225822_copyross those lines I prayed for those who are and have been imprisoned. Enjoying the freedom to walk when I want, where I want, whenever I want has me praying for those who cannot. I prayed for those like Mohamed Fahmy whose jailing in Egypt with lack of evidence or process leaves him and his family longing for his freedom. At the same time I found myself thinking of those who are prisoners because of illness of mind, body, or spirit. Thinking of those whose condition restricts their life and freedom in any way, set me to pray for each of them as they came to mind. Then my mind drifted to the ways I am imprisoned. I searched myself for the next little while of my walk. I had a heart to heart with God – with whom I can be most honest – and prayed to be set free from those things that keep me from being me. 20150208_225435 (2)

Another image was that of an apparently dead tree standing tall against the wind and the snow. Resilient! Sometimes even when things appear to be past their best before date, they still have a lot to give. [Just ask the Rev’d Anne Jaikaran – she has a theory about BB dates]. This gave me pause to consider the church. It is no secret to people in the Western world that the church has seen better days. People reminisce about full churches and bursting Sunday schools all the time. But those days have long gone. There are pockets of growth and new life, and I am fortunate to minister along with the people of St. Aidan’s in such an environment. That said, nowadays Diocesan Councils across this country consider motions for congregations to disestablish at a consistent clip, while applications for expansion, growth or a church plants are few and far between. Walking in the snow last evening and seeing that old Ash tree standing with great majesty into the wind, I could not help but think about the church and how it too is standing against the odds. Of the tree, I found myself musing about the fact that someone should take the initiative to have the tree cut down. Then found myself asking – who will care enough to plant something new in its place? In a sense, that’s where we are at in the church too. Each time a church closes, or another congregation disestablishes, another object of strength, resiliency, and character is gone for good. So I find myself asking – who will plant the seeds of hope that will grow the church of tomorrow. The church will be different – it may not have the same stature, it may serve another purpose, it may grow in a different way. I was thinking, It will take some work, but I do hope that we who love the church will be determined enough to sow seeds of hope and justice to grow something new that will stand in place of was and is equipped to serve what the world around us is unfolding to be…. Then I looked up…. And I was home! I wonder what I might find tonight….on the road to Jerusalem. I best go find out…..

As an aside…. I am surprised at how much snow there is on the road to Jerusalem – Kidding

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