We are only a couple of short days away from Advent. Hard to imagine that Advent is not here yet when we have had the commercial carnival known as Christmas up to full mach 2 having been launched right after Halloween. But alas we will begin on Sunday the process of preparing and waiting or a season we coincidentally call Christmas as well. That four week preparation is the season of Advent. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, preaching on the First Sunday of Advent in 1928 said “Celebrating Advent means learning how to wait. Waiting is an art which our impatient age has forgotten. We want to pluck the fruit before it has time to ripen.” I wonder what he would think today in a world gone mad with instant gratification. We live in a time where it is quite possible that if you had to wait more than five second for this page to appear you are probably not reading this blog! It’s kinda nuts!
I was thinking about what I call “Lively Leanne’s Life’s Lessons.” Leanne is a great niece of mine in Newfoundland. She is very bright and she loves to laugh and have fun. I have quoted Leanne before. When I was to return to Ontario from a trip to Whiteway a couple of Christmases ago she asked me why I was leaving. I told her that I had to get back to work. Lively Leanne looked at me with furrowed brow and said, “Uncle Kevy….you don’t wuuuurrk. All you do is go to church!” Well put. By now you are asking what all this has to do with Advent. I’m getting to it. This summer I was the beneficiary of two or three more of these “Lively Leanne’s Life’s Lessons. (LLLL)” This one in particular is very relevant to Advent.
On a couple of separate occasions when Leanne was with me and Aunt Catherinanne, she made impassioned pleas for things that she felt very strongly about. It was clear that there was a lot of hope in her heart that what she longed for would be delivered. These were big things to her, such as McDonalds for lunch, a second trip to Signal Hill on the same day, and the need to have a Frosty from Wendy’s for dessert after supper at KFC. All of these great desires came in one day. Her delivery was impeccable. She is a beautiful little girl and with her most loving look would ask, “Uncle Kevy, can we go back up to Single Hill after the movie?” But that was not the best part. Before I could answer her question it was followed by a plea from little Leanne. “Don’t say no! Say we’ll see!”I obliged and in each instance said, “We’ll see.” I have thought about that many times since that day. It is now a part of LLLL. Leanne was contented to wait for an answer. She was prepared to embrace expectation. She would embrace even the possibility of her hopes and aspirations coming to fruition. She did not NEED a yes. She only needed the door to be left open and then I could see in her little face in the impending waiting period, anticipation and expectation and joy. She seemed to relish the waiting for an answer. The “we’ll see” period is akin to Advent. It is our liturgical “we’ll see.” Instead of jumping headfirst into Christmas we engage on a wait and see what it might be. Leanne waited patiently – especially for a seven year old. And when the “we’ll see” became a yes she was so, excited, so exuberant and so thrilled. She enjoyed the wait but she was absolutely Gob-smacked at the fulfillment of her desires. Because Uncle Kevin and Aunt Catherinanne are pushovers and love to do what they can when they can with little people that they do not see often, I never got to experience what the disappointment might have been if at the end of the “we’ll see” period if her dreams had not come true. So it is with God and us. God has no interest in letting us down. God is present with us in the long moments of “we’ll see” and God is with us to bring goodness to full fruition. Leanne understands the value of waiting and she loves the excitement of living with the possibility of what might be. We could all use a good dose of that instead of wanting to know at every moment what will happen next. We could all live with a little dose of not needing all gratification immediately.
Almost as profound as Lively Leanne is Bonheoffer….I said almost. In that same sermon from 1928 that I referenced earlier he shared this. "The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, who look forward to something greater to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus comes. Christmas comes. Christians rejoice!" I know a lot of people who just don’t get that concept. But alas my little theologian Leanne – she gets it!
And besides all that – she’s my buddy!
In doing a little research today I discovered that the name DARRYL means “beloved.” Its’ origins are English and the word means almost literally “from Arielle” in France. It is an interesting choice of a name for my brother who is celebrating his birthday today. Darryl is indeed “beloved.” I do believe that this good man, four years my senior is indeed well loved (some might say spoiled, but I digress) but I am certain that he did NOT come from France. What we do know is that 40 years ago today this little man came into the world – a little early I hear – and the world has not been the same since. Since the 1980’s when Bob Newhart’s great sitcom Newhart was on the air, Darryl has been introduced many times as “my other brother Darryl.” 1967 was a big year in Canada. It was the year of Expo in Montreal. The biggest birthday party ever thrown for one new little Newfoundlander. It was also the centenary for Canada. Pierre Burton referred to 1967 as “Canada’s last good year.” I am not sure if Pierre Burton new about Darryl’s arrival or not?
In the 1960’s Darryl the name enjoyed some popularity. Take a look at the chart below and see just how popular the name was in the mid 1960s. Since that time the name has been in decline. OR could it be that that there just have not been as many “beloved” babies since that time.
While 1971 was not nearly as notorious, it was a good year from my perspective. You would have thought that Mom and Dad would have been happy with a “beloved” child but indeed at the ages of 55 and 38 they felt they had one more chance to get it right as it were. While they had six lovely children, surely they knew there was more that could be done. I came kicking and screaming into the world and completed the family as the seventh child. (Seven is a very holy number!) The previous child was named “beloved.” What was left? –
KEVIN – “Handsome AND Beloved.” By the way KEVIN the name has great popularity tight up to today see the chart below.
Life was good. Now let’s see what happened in Canada in 1971? Well, Jacques Villeneuve and Justin Trudeau were born, before that Pierre Elliott Trudeau married Margret Sinclair, the PCs took over Alberta under the direction of Peter Lougheed and have not let up since, well you get the picture no big parties or celebration, no fanfare, nothing! So all I have going for me is my title “handsome and beloved” over just plain old “beloved.” Darryl had the bigger party.
Then life marched on – and my brother Darryl marched on before me. He knew very well how to push all the right buttons and get me very upset when we were kids and indeed even as young men. I have mellowed – he is still just as pesky as ever! I would never admit when I was young how much I looked up to him – was better that I tell everyone that he got on my nerves and that would be the end of it – Mr. Beloved! - I’m afraid that my Handsomeness was not a match for his belovedness. Darryl was good at sports, he was popular in school and we did not know it till he got a little older but he was even smart! I do remember in my first high school chemistry class, the teacher asked me when going through the register and landing on my name, “Please tell me that you are not Darryl George’s brother?” I guess he was not beloved in all eyes. I still recall how defensive I got and said with great pride, “As a matter of fact I AM!” (Turns out that same teacher could not see the beloved part of my name as well – I’m not sure if he noticed my handsome nature or not!)
If it were not for my 40 year old brother going first, I probably would never have gone to university and would not be here as priest today. I was proud when Darryl went to St. John’s to go to MUN – even though I would fight with him when he came home. I looked forward to his trips home on the weekends. In the week I often referenced him when talking to my peers. “My Brother Darryl is in university and he says that…” That gave credence to what ever I wanted to share.
In Newhart the two Darryls were silent. Our Darryl made up for all of that. But most of what he had to say and what he continues to say is “good stuff.” Now we are all grown up – He is a VP in the High Schools and I am a Priest in the church – I continue to be proud of him and still look up to him for guidance – we don’t get to fight so much nowadays – but that’s ok too I do not miss that. I look up to all of my siblings – I have a wonderful family and I have had great guidance all along the way. I wish I could be in Whiteway today to raise a glass with Darryl and toast his 40th birthday. He will no doubt be embarrassed by me saying any of this as we do not express too much emotion. But these are my feelings today and I think he shall have to live with them –
Happy 40th Birthday Darryl – you may not be handsome but today and every day, you are “beloved.”
This past weekend was a big one indeed. Friday was our 8th Annual Celebrity Steak BBQ and Auction. A great night and good time for all 230 present. While it raised great funds for the Raising the Roof Fund it also raised all of our spirits as we enjoyed good fun together. There were over 100 items up for auction thanks to the generosity of the people of St. Mark’s and their business friends and associates. The event was a success because of the hard work of Rob Agnew, Mark and Sally Charlton, John and Jean Anderson, Dave and Lynne Hornby, Stewart and Thea Dawson, Stacy Adam, Bob Cooper, Scott Shields, Kevin Miller and my dear wife Catherinanne who worked tirelessly or the past week. Thanks so much to all of you and a special word of thanks to the Circle of Seven, Tommy Williams and Keith White for their support as always. This year we added an emcee. Tony Doucette for the CBC Radio’s The Early Shift did a fantastic job! Thanks Tony.
Sunday came and with it came a fantastic event at St. Anne’s Church. It was Evening with Choirs and our own Choir from St. Mark’s by-the-Lake was one of eight choirs performing. Andrea Morosin and our choir should be very, very proud. Their performance was so wonderful and I was so proud. Indeed the gifts and talents at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake were well displayed at St. Anne’s last night. A Great display of talent indeed!
Fundraising can really be “fun raising.” We are in the very height of it all here at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake for the next week or so. Saturday was our annual Fall Bazaar. That has meant that for the past few weeks Gloria Zeman has been by the church each and every day working to get things together and that many others have been working hard this past week and even more working hard on Saturday as we orchestrated a wonderful day. I love the Bazaar – it is a good time because more so than other events, we see a load of people from the church as well as a lot of friends and neighbours. It was a great day and I believe one of the busiest days in the eight fall bazaars that I have attended in this parish. It simply wonderful – our thanks to all concerned.
A great highlight of the day came from brokenness – literally. One of our newest little parishioners, Brooke had dropped her little ceramic doll that she won on the string pull. She was deeply saddened by this and took the new toys I gave her very gratefully but the obvious pain of the loss was written all over her face. Enter Catherinanne – stage left. It will come as no shock to anyone who knows me that Catherinanne must have tremendous patience. On Saturday at the Bazaar she proved just how very much she has. Catherinanne retrieved one of her favourite substances, Krazy Glue, from her secret lair and returned with a mission – repair the doll that was broken into about 35 little pieces and in the process she could mend Brooke’s broken heart. Over an hour later – it was mission accomplished. Catherinanne showed all about that with some patience and love, no matter how completely broken something may appear to be – beauty can be restored and goodness can be revealed. The little doll does not look the same, she bears the scars of her life, but Brooke’s smile was restored and Catherinanne felt rewarded by a brilliant smile. As I said the day brought a lot of good surprises. Take a look at the photos of bringing life back to a little doll.
This Friday coming is our 8th Annual Celebrity Steak BBQ and Auction. A great time each year we have it, this year is shaping up to be a grand affair as well. With Guest Speaker Tommy Williams, a local sports hero and Celebrity Emcee – Tony Doucette, how can we go wrong? Items for auction are coming in and slowing taking over my office. It is fascinating to me each year how in the last couple of days so much “stuff” is given to the auction. More than fascination I feel a great deal of gratitude for those who so generously donate to this fine affair. We have such great moments each year to remember and I am certain that this year will be no different. Who can forget our very first Auction with Lem Barney who was a class act all around and who looked as though he could still help the Lions win a game or two. As an aside, Lem, who is now a Baptist Minister came to the church after that speaking engagement and he preached. The highlight for me was throwing him a pass down the center aisle of the church during the children’s focus – a perfect pass right on the letters I might add! What about Ted Lindsay who told us all that he “…knows what wrong with the world today…” There was Terry Evanshen whose story of recovery was remarkable and his words were an inspiration to all who were there. Each of our speakers have brought something special to the night and we look forward to those special moments from this year as we will no doubt be entertained by Tommy Williams and Tony Doucette. Speaking of great memories from those auctions, who can forget the great bidding wars between Mr. Agnew and anyone else who wants the parking spot that is currently held by Ed Sears and Bob Hubbard? Great fun indeed! Hopefully you can join us – Tickets are $25 each – call soon as we have to give the K of C some final numbers.
Well it has happened at long last. Don Harvey, the “retired” bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador is taking his leave. Do I believe this is sad news for the Anglican Church of Canada? Yes I do – but not for the reasons you might think.
Mr. Harvey has long threatened that he would take his marbles and go home if he did not get his way in the Anglican church of Canada and now ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING.
Now don’t get too excited. This man has been causing trouble for the House of Bishops in Canada, since his retirement in 2004. Since that time he has not so quietly been making as much stink as possible about the church’s open dialogue about blessing same sex unions. In the three years since ‘retirement’ he has become moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada, an organization whose aim is to actively work to set up a parallel church – in other words, fracture the Anglican Communion in Canada. He has participated in irregular ordinations of bishops in The Southern Cone. He has taken his schismatic message on tour across Canada to like minded persons in any Diocese and jurisdiction that would allow him. All the while he has argues, that others (liberals) are tearing apart the church. At each and every opportunity Don Harvey has insisted that The Anglican Church of Canada is being threatened by homosexuality. He is so fixated on the matter that it makes one wonder what the trouble is really. Regardless of one’s position on the blessing of same sex unions, one thing is clear – when one pushes away from the table and says if I do not get my way there will be no more talking, the schismatic is the person who sulks out the door, and not the family left chewing on the difficult debate.
Sadly, this is the man who ordained me! I once respected this man, now he has become, to me, a big disappointment. Jorge Luis Borges wrote that “… the image of the Lord had been replaced by a mirror.” This I believe is a large part of the problem here. The arrogance of Don Harvey’s puerile position which is incapable of entertaining the notion that others, who may not agree, are condemned to heresy and categorically defined as no longer “orthodox” is frightening. That sort of imperious indignation has become characteristic of Don Harvey in the past few years and is all consistent with a man who, blinded by his own big-headedness, has lost sight of his sacred orders. This announcement yesterday is really no surprise and for some I am sure it is a relief. But do not get too comfortable too quickly – Mr. Harvey is going nowhere, least of all to the Southern Cone.
He will no doubt be found there when there is an opportunity to make a statement to the press back home in North America. [Take a look at this “Where’s Waldo” style photo found on the ANIC’s Web Page) This photo was taken at an ordination of rogue bishops to take oversight of disgrunteled Anglicans in the US.
This latest move is another opportunity for Mr. Harvey to raise his profile here in Canada and indeed in North America. Archbishop Fred Hiltz was quoted by The Anglican Journal (Read the article by clicking here) that “If he (Bishop Harvey) does anything in Canada or anywhere else in the world, or another province other than the province of the Southern Cone, that’s an extension of jurisdiction that’s not appropriate according to traditional understanding and statements as recent as Windsor and the primates’ communiqué in Dar Es Salaam,” Clearly the Primate and the Council of General Synod of The Anglican Church of Canada know what to expect next. If there is any doubt one need only read the press release on the ANIC and the ESSENTIALS web page where it states explicitly “He will now be free to offer episcopal oversight to biblically faithful Canadian Anglicans who are distressed and feel they no longer have a home in the Anglican Church of Canada.” Oddly the people over at ANIC insist that becoming a member of their "network" does no mean that you are no longer a part of the Anglican Church of Canada. What will it mean now that the Moderator of that group is denoucing his membership in the Anglcan Church of Canada?
Long ago Jesus of Nazareth warned of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Mr. Harvey has all but shed most of his wool, and now the fierceness of this philistine apologist should be evident to all. I urge the church in Canada to stand firm in its resolve to continue conversation and dialogue, to embrace tolerance and walk forward boldly to “strive for the peace and unity of all people and respect the dignity of every human being” (BAS Page 159)that is our baptism covenant. In so doing we can say to the Don Harveys of the world that priggish intolerance and self-promotion are not of God. I pray that the house of Bishops will NOT tolerate any interference from this man who has stepped away from the church. We need only remember the response of Jesus of Nazareth when he was subject to the squabbles between “the religious.”
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
We hold form to that creed of Jesus – Hopefully, Mr Harvey will follow that creed as well in his new endeavour.
PS ANOTHER BLOG WILL FOLLOW TOMORROW AN AN EXCITING WEEKNED AT ST. MARK’S – SO MUCH NEWS AND SO LITTLE BLOG TIME!
Admittedly, I did not begin my day well for a variety of reasons which I will not go into. I just not get started well and I was not looking forward to the day at all. But, my professor of Pastoral Care and Homiletics Bob Giuliano told me a long time ago, “Son, there will be days when you feel like all you want to do is cry or crawl away in a hole. But you will get up and drag yourself out, dust off the obvious signs of fatigue and sorrow and do what you have to do. You’ll be surprised what you will accomplish. What you can’t do is just give up – play through the pain.” I thought of Bob this morning quite a bit (A shout out to my United Church Friends here – this man is good and is sons are great as well).
What is remarkable is how a day can turn around and more remarkable what makes it turn around. My task this morning was to visit the Nursing Home to celebrate communion with some friends from our own version of the NHL – that is the Nursing Home Lions, a group of dedicated parishioners of St. Mark’s who go to all nursing home liturgies with me. I am embarrassed to say that I pulled up to the home thinking, “I can’t believe I have to face this today.” All I could see before I went through those doors was my self, my needs, my concerns, my mood. How embarrassing! I was transformed in that Nursing Home today. I came back to the office and began to read. I needed to be convicted of my own self-centeredness and refocus on God. One of the things I read was Proverbs chapter 3. Here is an excerpt from “The Message”- a biblical paraphrase.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honour God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this. (Verses 5-12)
I was sulking in the worst kind of way this morning – and in the liturgy this morning I met Jesus in the breaking of the bread. In the lives of the residents I found Jesus of Nazareth. It was much easier to trust God when I found God. At once my whole demeanour changed and I knew that things would be better today. Part of the grief that I was feeling was that these good servants were going to get poor liturgy and low effort from someone who should really be giving them as good as he would give everyone else. The truth be told in the moments of transformation I was surprised at how much I could give in liturgy this morning and what the residents received was, I believe, very good liturgy. It is good to be reminded that I need to “listen for God’s voice in everything [I] do, and everywhere [I] go.” I heard that voice, so to speak, today loud and clear in the joy expressed by the residents of Extendicare. I believe it true that God can keep me and all of us on track. And I must say I like the idea of having my” wine vats brim over.”
The other thing that I read [again] was a little book of excerpts from C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters entitled Paved with Good Intention: A Demons Road Map to your Soul. I picked this little book up a year ago and have gone back to it many times. I LOVED Screwtape Letters as I believed it to be a very cleaver explanation of how insidious darkness is and how it finds its way into our everyday lives. In this book and so it follows in the little pocket book Paved with Good Intentions a senior devil Screwtape is writing letters to his nephew Wormwood. The advice he offers on how to get into the lives of believers is helpful for those of us trying to make the right choices. God knows that I do not always make the best choices. Here is the piece that I found most helpful today.
“We want him to be in maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy [God]. He wants [people] to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”
We are reminded in Matthew chapter 6 that worrying does not help us much in life and I fear this morning I may have forgotten this. But alas my UC friend Bob Giuliano was correct. Even when it seems impossible to get out and get going, God has a way of being in the middle of it all. Thanks Bob – you got me going today.
Thank God for days like this – I feel much better when I have been on a journey – even when parts of the trip are stormy. Thank God as well that I do NOT know it all! It’s all good.
To finish it all off I recieved my daily cartoon from "The Back Pew" by Jeff Larson which brought me to full laughter.
Here its is
My Uncle Albert (My father’s brother) used to enter our house each evening after supper and announce his presence from the porch with the word – Hoiiiiiiiii! It was classic – one of those moments that you wait for each and every day. Sometimes he was accompanied by Aunt Maude, someties she would follow shortly behind him and sometimes he came alone. Uncle Albert was a great character with a fantastic sense of humour. He did a mean impersonation of Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazzard. I can sill hear him say – “Blooood is thicka than waataa!” He loved right behind us and he was a great part of the small community in which I lived. The fabric of a nurturing community like Whiteway is sewn together by the lives of people like Uncle Albert. He and my Father were a good pair together when they were getting their fish for the winter, or when they were chatting after Uncle Albert’s triumphant entry into the house. He would stand at the mouth of living room, usually for half an hour to an hour and Dad would sit in the same chair each night and they would engage in great conversations. Topics included politics, religion, the weather, fish, car problems or what was happening with other folks in the community. They did not always agree, but the conversation itself was always enlightening and I often felt a little wiser by the time Uncle Albert declared, “I must go up, I s’pose.” I can’t say that all the enlightenment was good – I mean I am not sure that 10 year olds need to know some of the things that are happening with people in the community, but hey, I am not complaining. I loved it. I looked at Uncle Albert sort of like a grandfather –my father’s Dad had died quite a few years before I was born. I miss Uncle Albert – he died on Christmas Day 1983. In many was he was to me Albertus Magnus – Albert the Great!
I bring all this up because today in the Roman calendar is the Feast day for Albert the Great. This man was a great doctor of the faith who instructed Thomas Aquinas. He was a man who embraced the teachings of science and of theology and was happy to have them not just co-exist, but also instruct his faith. St. Albert was a great advocate of free will and felt that the idea of absolute predestination was heretical. For that reason alone I am interested in more of what this Albert the Great had to say. It was said that in his lifetime he was referred to as Albertus Magnus or Albert the Great as he, in many ways, was larger than life and people knew it. I am not sure if my Grandmother knew anything about Albert the Great. With her limited education, chances are that she did not even hear of Albert the Great, but she may have unwittingly chosen the most appropriate name for Uncle Albert. So on this feast day for Albert the Great – I pray in thanksgiving for my own Albertus Magnus.
“No single tradition monopolizes the truth. We must glean the best values of all traditions and work together to remove the tensions between traditions in order to give peace a chance.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk and Scholar
I have been reading the works of Thich Nhat Hanh for many years. One of his best works is a book entitled “Living Buddha, Living Christ.” In it he outlines the similarities between Christians and Buddhists and brings hope to the world for peace and enlightenment for all of God’s children. In the quote above he reminds the world of the need for TOLERANCE. These words above would be hard to swallow if your are a literalist, extremistor fundamentalist, where absolutes are crucial. Tell Pat Roberson that “No single tradition monopolizes the truth.” This man of God wrote in his book New World Order, “When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government, I hit a firestorm. "What do you mean?" the media challenged me. "You’re not going to bring atheists into the government? How dare you maintain that those who believe in the Judeo-Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?" My simple answer is, "Yes, they are." Indeed, if this world is to be a better place TOLERANCE has to become a real factor in day to day life and in particular, in day to day governance. We need to speak proudly of diversity and we need to do so loudly enough that the voices of intolerance become less significant.
Last night The Faith Club came to Windsor. Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, Priscilla Warner are three women, who collectively, have become “The Faith Club.” Ranya is a Muslim, Suzanne is a Christian, and Pricilla is a Jew. After 9-11 these women came together, originally to write children’s book, to help their kids better understand differences and diversity in the culture around them. They got more than they bargained for when they found that they had a lot of work to do, to work out their own differences. Their book The Faith Club is a memoir of the journey they made together towards knowing each other better. They have visited over 40 cities across the U.S. and last night made their first visit to Canada.
I was pleased to be at Assumption University’s Freed-Orman Center at the University of Windsor last night to hear these three powerful women of God speak. (You can read about their visit by clicking here) I was pleased that some people from the church could attend and hear these women share their experiences of having to tear down their own prejudices and stereotypes of the other in order to move forward as friends and colleagues.
Powerful indeed, to have such well spoken and educated people of faith say with conviction that we all have stereotypes that need addressing. This was a profound answer to the hate-filled lecture “the Deadly threat of Islam” that was offered by Campbell Baptist earlier this year next door to the same campus. I noted last night that Dr. Donald Mckay, senior pastor was nowhere to be found. This man who labelled Islam as “oppressive” and “vicious” should have been present to hear Ranya Idliby speak so firmly about her faith. She is well versed in the Qur’an and gave us an image if Islam that is not at all oppressive and is in no way vicious. On a positive note the lecture was a full house and a good reflection of the fact that this city is indeed much more interested in dialogue that brings us together rather than in propaganda that separates and divides. The night was the fruit of the labours another couple of strong women of faith – Martha Lee and Remy Boulbol from the U of W’s center of Religion and Culture. I offer them my sincere thanks for bringing God’s voice to the Windsor Community through the work and witness of these three great women.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “People hate each other because they fear each other, and they fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they are often separated from each other.” Many thanks to the Faith Club for removing separation, many thanks to God for giving these women such a strong voice – let us all work with people like Martha Lee, like Remy Boulbol, and like the faith club to remove the walls that divide us, and remove the fear that enslaves us so that we may embrace each other in love and in peace.
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~C.S. Lewis
A few years ago I was in Victoria, BC taking a week of respite in February. I should say, straight away, that Victoria is a great place to be in February. Catherinanne was on a chaplains conference in CFB Esquimalt at the time and I took each day and roamed the streets of Victoria finding interesting places to sit and read one of the three or four books I brought with me to keep my mind occupied. I found some great places, among them a great English Style Pub called Darcy’s.
I spent a day at Darcy’s – reading, eating and enjoying appropriate beverages – all different and all with suds on top. It was a great day! But alas, a man cannot spend 5 days drinking beer and eating fish and chips – although it would be fun to try.
So I branched out, and I found some different places to eat, to drink and to read. One of those places was the now 113 year old place called Murchie’s Tea. This very famous place in Victoria was a delightful place to get a great cup of tea and to enjoy a good ‘coffee shop’ atmosphere.
Again, being there was for me – time well spent and I was pleased to have those moments of solitude and serenity. Today I read the sad news in the Globe and Mail that this Canadian icon is going to close. (You can read the article by clicking here). It is no longer viable in an environment where Starbucks and other American interests have taken over. This was sad news for me. Catherinanne just came back from there a few weeks ago and one of the very thoughtful presents that she had in her bag for me was a box of Murchie’s Tea. I will savour every drop. It is sad that so many of our Canadian realities die away in the face of American consumerism. It baffles me really how that can happen. On a recent road trip from Philadelphia to Windsor, we stopped for a tea and a coffee at Starbucks on the Pennsylvania turnpike. I was shocked when the bill came to nearly $7.00. That is simply outrageous. But people seem obsessed with getting a ‘Starbucks’ coffee, or for that matter a ‘Second Cup’ or even a ‘Tim Horton’s.’ I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to this – we all seem sold on the BIG brands and we are all prepared to pay for it. In the meantime if a local Canadian institution has to increase it’s prices to keep up – there is a great cost to be paid. If it sounds like I am on a soapbox – I apologize. This is more of a lament than a sermon today folks and I convict myself of also participating in the great marketplace that often takes no prisoners. We all love to buy the tings that the mass media sell us – we are purchasing a way of life.
I enjoyed the uniqueness of that small Western Canadian business, and I lament the fact that it is about to become a part of antiquity. That day a few years ago as I read my book at Murchie’s, I was cognisant of my own comfort with the unhurriedness of my day. While I am so used to going at a fast pace, being still there put me in a place where I was imperturbable. I wish I could go back there, for even just one day. The great Buddhist teacher Thich Nat Hahn has a good philosophy about taking a tea break. “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” I think will go make a nice cup of Murchie’s Tea – not many left.
A Two Part Blog –
Oliver Wendell Holmes said: "Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body."
Last night I had a very refreshing musical bath. It is soul-refreshing to hear the soft melody of a great choir, particularly when it is well directed and well prepared. Tim Shantz is the conductor of the Windsor Classic Chorale and Katy Warke is Soprano in that great choir – together they are parents to Chloe and Isaac who were yesterday welcomed into the household of God in the sacrament of baptism. They had quite a journey yesterday from a sacramental celebration of baptism to a prodigious performance at the Old Windsor Armouries last evening that left the sold out audience teeming with thanks.
On Sunday evenings I am not usually full of vim and vigour, and last evening was shaping up to be tiring by virtue of nothing more than the length of the day. But I was oh so happy to have my sprit lifted and my soul renewed with the gift of music from Tim and his wonderful chanteuses, his wife Katy included. Indeed, I had received gift enough from them in the morning with the privilege of baptising Isaac and Chloe, along with little Sierra Bryceland and her mom Shannon and her Uncle Ryan (That’s right – 5 baptisms).
The kids were so awesome at their baptisms and brought great joy to our community in their young expressions of faith. Having that joy followed by the stillness and harmony of The Windsor Classic Chorale was more goodness than one paltry Parson should have in one work day.
The concert was to commemorate Remembrance Day and included beautiful renderings of Amazing Grace, Dona Nobis Pacem, What a Wonderful World, Going Home, In Flanders Field and so many more. The night also included a fun sing-a-long with oldies like K-K-K-Katie … (I wonder why that song?) The whole evening was wonderful and I cannot say thank you enough for cleansing my soul with angelic sounds and for a wonderful day. Nietzsche was right- “Without music life would be a mistake.” I was pleased to experience the music of the morning and the music if the night! A great day indeed.
Another great gift yesterday was the gentle and loving way in which Christian Paulton taught the children about Remembrance Day. His duty was to play The Last Post and Revelee - he was also supposed to give the children’s focus. He combined them and the result was magic.
Those of you who know me well, know that I have to work hard at the Remembrance day stuff. War for me is a real sad statement about our humanity and is cause for collective repentance. Yet, each year we have to find a way to honour the fallen with dignity and to give thanks for the freedom that we enjoy. I have gotten a little better at it over time – of note here I should admit that in my first tenure as a chaplain to the Legion in Labrador – I was fired. They were upset that at the Remembrance Day Celebration “All he talked about was Peace – he never even brought up the war!” In any event I digress – this started out about Christian. I share my struggles only to make clear how meaningful what he did was for me yesterday. For those who were not there, you missed a brilliant illustration. He played The Last Post and in the silence (and the kids had all pledged to be silent) he opened a trunk to help them understand and remember. He brought out of the trunk a number of items that were reminders of the war – a model war plane, a bomber jacket, a picture of his Grandpa, a gas mask, a legion jacket replete with war medals, etc. As each was removed it was passed to a child and the wonderment and love that was expressed in those moments was magic. After all was said and done and each children’s mind was fixed in imagination, our senses were awoken with Revelee. It was profound and it was brilliant.
The words I remember from the conversation Christian had with the Kids before “The Trunk” were “Thank God you do not have those pictures in your mind.” We need to all work for peace so that those children might grow up in a world which is free of the violence and war that we see about us even today. Thank God that we do not have the images in our young minds that Rita Severs and Bill Brown have in their minds – having survived the bombings in London. Thank God we did not live the horrors that so many lived. While thanking God for that reprieve from those horrified images, pray to God to have the courage to speak peace, live peace, and work for peace so that more of God’s Children might say – Thank God we don’t have those images in our minds.”