Tomorrow is a big day at St. Mark’s by-the Lake. This year Remembrance Day falls on a Sunday and we will take the time in our prayers to remember those who have offered their lives for peace and justice in a world mad with war.
Benjamin Franklin philosophy was “Never has there been a good war or a bad peace.” There is no doubt that we are thankful for the sacrifices of our forebears as we all know the terrors that this world had lived through in the last century. Yet the two “great” wars have to be for humanity something that we look at and mourn rather than celebrate. As I think at this time of the year of the young men and women from our country who felt so strongly about freedom that they went willingly, in some cases lying about their age to be able to go, I am grateful for their sacrifice and at the same time saddened about their loss and the loss that comes to humanity when we are warring. Today we face these same problems and we must pray for peace. As Christians we are called to be a people who will NOT give up on the idea and notion that there should be dignity and peace for all people. We need to take a time like this to take a look at where we have come from, mourning the losses of the past, and in response call our attention to the world issues that face us today. So many are hungry, so many are dying from the scourge of AIDS and so many are just forgotten and our attention today is directed in other places. In the middle part of the last century Dwight D Eisenhower summed it up well when he said; “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.” Humanity is in need of a good dose of the baptismal covenant. We need to take hold of our promise "to seek and serve Christ in ALL persons loving neighbour as self." We need to stand firm in our resolve “to strive for peace and unity among ALL people and respect the dignity of EVERY human being.” (These promises are found in the baptismal covenant on Page 156 of the BAS). Once we lay hold of these ideas we can accept them as a way of life, as a life statement and we can show the world around us by how we act, that there is a better way. This will allow us to thank a Veteran for what he/she has done for us and at the same time work to make that kind of sacrifice unnecessary in our world. Eleanor Roosevelt seemed to “get it,” if you know what I mean. “We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together we have to talk.” The world is in need of conversation and dialogue. I hope this weekend as we look back that we also acknowledge the need for the world to come together.
We will have a great opportunity tomorrow to renew our own commitment to our baptismal ministry as we remind ourselves of who we are as community as we engage in the work of bringing more people into “the household of God.”
Tomorrow we will welcome The Bryceland family and the Warke-Shantz family as we celebrate the sacrament of baptism. As the children presented tomorrow are baptized let us pray that they may know a world of peace and that they might be part of making that peace happen.
PS – we are trying hard to get our plans together for the Annual Steak bbq and auction – if you plan on coming you can help us tomorrow by picking up tickets after church. Plan on joining us – it is the best deal in town – a great dinner and a great night out for a $25 Ticket – by a table for you and your friends!
A November 5, 2007 Time Magazine article entitled "An Evangelical Rethink on Divorce?" caught my attention this week. It is an interesting examination of a report from British Evangelical scholar David Instone-Brewer entitled "When to Separate What God has Joined: A Closer Reading on the Bible on Divorce." The conservative evangelical wing of the church has long held that divorce is forbidden and this has in many cases lead to pastors as soon as 30 years ago sending women home to abusive husbands to be dutiful wives. Now it seems, at least some, evangelicals are having a change of heart.
This is ironic in my mind. Truth be told, fundamentalist have always done this. Argue that scripture is in unwavering word of God and is not open to contextualization or new understanding. At the same time, they have long argued when reminded of scripture passages that espouse reducing the role of women, stoning adulterers, etc that these passages must be understood in “their context.” This sort of biblical dance has always been for me a bit on the ridiculous side and reduces the credibility of Christians who take seriously the need to journey in faith, and struggle with scripture and its meaning in our modern world. Now the evangelical church is opening a conversation about biblical teaching which hitherto has been untouchable for them. Cleverly, this scholar believes that the whole thing has been misunderstood all these years because the Greek manuscripts did not use quotation marks around certain phrases. The periocpe that is most often used is Matthew 19:3-6.
Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?’ 4He answered, ‘Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning “made them male and female”, 5and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? 6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ 7They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?’ 8He said to them, ‘It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but at the beginning it was not so. 9And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.’*
The quotations are supposedly missing from the “for any cause” in verse 3. That would make this passage different in the sense of “No-fault” divorce. Jesus then answers – oh well of course not except if there is adultery involved. This then leads naturally enough to the assumption that Jesus would not have wanted people trapped in abusive and awful marriages.
Evangelicals have now found a convenient way to accept what many of us Christians have accepted for years – Sometimes there is a death in marriage long before either of the partners in that marriage dies. I wondered quietly these past few years when this might become a more vocal conversation for evangelicals. It is not uncommon for St. Mark’s by-the-Lake to be the home of marriages that are unwelcome in other sectors of the church. As more and more couples become disenfranchised by the evangelical understanding of divorce there is an emerging problem of loss of members to more liberal and I am sure in evangelical eyes, heretical churches. So now is a convenient time to get a new understanding of biblical teaching on marriage. Good for them – now the question becomes when will the conservative church find a new interpretation of biblical passages that relate to homosexuality?
I can’t wait.
Yesterday at Arby’s some of us were chatting about Mr. Rogers and how really good he was in his day on TV. He was a comforting presence that we welcomed into our homes, where so much of what we welcome into our living rooms nowadays is not nearly as healthy. Mr. Rogers had a strong theology of love and really saw in each person a child of God who needed love and who was called to be loved. He once said, “I think everybody longs to be loved and longs to know that he or she is lovable and, consequently, the greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they are loved and capable of loving.”
Today I am reflective that it is indeed true that the world needs love and needs growth. God is all about love and all about service and Mr. Rogers reiterated that when he said “At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job.
Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.”
So when it feels frustrating some days and there does not appear to be progress in the mission to BE the people of God and to Advance the cause of love and growth for all of God’s children, think of the late great Fred Rogers and his well communicated theology of love and community. “Won’t you be my neighbour?”
Here is a video tribute – you can pause the music on this page first by clicking player above.
It is hard to imagine that the Roman Catholic Church would be speaking out against a government attempt to cut down on impaired driving, isn’t it? But alas we should never be surprised by the church (including all of us here – Anglicans too sometimes) and its ability to participate in the most ridiculous of situations.
This story comes from Northern Ireland of all places. On November 2 the BBC ran a story with the headline, EUCHARIST COULD MEAN ‘WATER INTO FINE.’ Apparently, Sinn Fein has been calling for zero tolerance on what they call ‘drink-driving.’ This has already happened in many places in Eastern Europe. I understand from my extensive half an hour of research that ‘drink-driving’ is a big problem Northern Ireland and that this is an honest effort to stop people from the dangerous practice of finishing up a pint or two at the local ‘public house’ and driving several miles down the road to the next pub and so on and so on…! To most of us that sounds like a good idea (I mean the not drinking and driving part, not the going pub hopping with a car part!).
Enter the Church – Stage LEFT. A very well known Irish priest, Father Brian D’Arcy weighed in; "We want a law that allows people to drive and not drive people off the road. We want a law that’s applicable and reasonable, not risible. Nobody in their right mind would want that." Why would the church be opposed? Good question! It appears that these fretting Fathers are drinking a LOT of communion wine on Sundays. The church, says Father D’Arcy has not as many priest and the ones they have left are forced to say several masses on a Sunday, in some cases with considerable distance in between celebrations. When I first read this article I thought to myself, “These GUYS have taken the word ‘celebrate’ far too seriously when it comes to the Eucharist. It appears as though the whole thing is wrapped up in the practice of having priest consume the sacred wine instead of allowing any of the parishioners consume. Simple solution – share and share alike!
Now I must say that Father D’Arcy may be a teetotaller, but he really should be a little more understanding of the needs of a community to be safe. Referring to legislation that is designed to protect human life as “risible” is really unfair and ironic coming from a priest who is charged to have respect for all human life. According to RTE (Republic of Ireland’s News Network) the problem there is rampant. I am sure that it is not much different in Northern Ireland. How bad is it? “An average of 250 drivers are arrested each week for driving while under the influence of an intoxicant in the Republic of Ireland.” Over one-third of all fatal crashes in Ireland involve “drink-driving.” I would have to say that the last work that comes to mind is “risible.” The families of those who have lost a loved one would be deeply wounded at referring to legislation to curb that problem as “laughable.” Bobby Bradley whose 20 year old son Robert was run over by a drunk driver in 2000 would not find this subject risible at all. In a 2003 BBC article DRINK-DRIVING DEATHS RISE, he was quoted saying that, “We feel there should be zero tolerance for drink-driving. We would not want any other family to go through what we have" When I was a teenager I lost two friends to drunk driving. Those families would also find very little in this subject that should be described as laughable or for that matter would see this debate as something that would give rise to amusement.
Well, I really don’t know all the answers. It seems to me that any move to protect the public should be something the church celebrates, even if it is inconvenient. I could be wrong, it happened once just yesterday – Maybe the lack of vocations has lead to the need to allow these fearful Fathers to consume handfuls of holy hootch and drive to the next appointment. According to Father D’Arcy even a small reduction in the legal limit would put them over the top. So in many jurisdictions on the planet where the limit is 50 mgs and not 80 mgs like NI, or where zero tolerance is already in effect, there is already a pious predicament that leaves the church bound up between Scylla and Charybdis. What should this hallowed institution do? Well they could do what priests in Crotia are doing – They are seeking $12 Million in comonesation for personal drivers. (Click here to read more) OR It seems to me that it might be time to address the lack of vocations – or am I just not "celebrating" enough? If you asked me this is all risible!
My Apologies for the long delay between posts. I do not usually wait a week between notes but the past week has been a world wind. Would you believe that since I last posted about being stuck (by the way, I’m not depressed and my self esteem is pretty good. I was trying to communicate a deeper sense of call that we should all feel. I have my doubts some days – but I am fine – I have to be – I’m stick with ME!), I have been to the sesquicentennial service in London, drove to Philadelphia and back, had our big day at Arby’s, took in a Spitfire’s game, Celebrated a great feast of all souls, and am now readying myself for “Bring a Friend Sunday.” It has been a week to remember – All of this fresh of the heels of a great week with our visit from Ed Smith.
Sometime in the next few days I will post a YOUTUBE video of the Sesquicentennial service, which I must say held some good surprises for me. I also hope to post an Ed Smith Video with some highlights of what from all reviews and accounts, was a great visit indeed. So stay tined for those updates. I thought tonight I should update some more immediate events.
Last night marked our annual celebration of the Feast of All Souls. We were pleased to again this year welcome over 100 people to our church as we marked the lives pf the souls of all those that we love but see no longer – we marked with great dignity those lives last night. The Reverend Canon Jane Humphries (soon to be archdeacon of Essex) was our guest preacher and we were thrilled to have her with us.
Again we were privileged to have the musical offerings of Songbird – Nancy and Stephanie Asiack. We give thanks to the Marcotte Funeral Home for providing Songbird and for hosting such a wonderful reception after the Mass.
Again last night we were given the gift of our church choir. I echo the words of so many when I say that Andrea Morosin is brilliant with our choir and we are fortunate to have such a gifted director and such talented choir members. It was a good night in every way and it was great to see the many people into whose lives I was welcomed in many cases in moments of suffering and pain.
On the cover of the NATIONAL POST today there is a half page photo of Jean Vanier. It drew my attention and I bought the paper – even though I am usually a Globe and Mail reader. In any event the article was a good article about the influence of this gentle giant who founded L’Arche communities around the
world. L’Arche is a home for severely disabled persons. In many cases the people in these homes need constant care for everything. I had opportunity at World youth day in Toronto to hear this great man speak. He is utterly consistent with his message of service. I was reflecting on his words in paper and remembering his inspiring words of service to the thousands of young people who came to see him in Toronto. "The sign of being human is to be a friend to the weak person. There’s something in the history of humanity that shows being human is to care for the weak — the fragile, the orphans and the widow." This was reflected in the kindness expressed between strangers last night at our All Souls service. It was good to see people share their pain and suffering. It was heartening to see folks shoulder the weight of grief together. Vanier’s life is reminder to the world that you can make a big difference by adopting an attitude of service. He has reflected well the spiritual benefit of being present for others who so desperately need to be loved and cared for. Make no mistake about it, this is no easy task. It means that at times we will, even though we know it will hurt, take a step toward someone else’s pain. It means that instead of giving in to the voice that says, “I can’t go there, it’s too hard on me,” we listen to the sprit which guides us to the understanding that as Vanier says, "[We] see the face of God within the disabled. Their presence is a sign of God, who has chosen [quoting St. Paul] ‘the foolish in order to confound the strong, the proud and the so-called wise of our world.’ And so those we see as weak or marginalized are, in fact, the most worthy and powerful among us: they bring us closer to God." Youcan substitute many words for disabled here. I am rminded of what ed Smith said when he was with us last week, reminding us that we “all have disabilities.” I would say that we all have suffering, we all live through pain and we all have to find ways through it. This does not always come easy and it is much harder when we have to bear it alone.
We cannot remove another’s suffering, pain, sorrow or grief. We can choose to be with someone we love and care about [or for that matter a complete stranger]in their dark night of the soul. It may mean that it makes us uncomfortable – it ma mean that we have to listen and be silent instead of speaking out of fear and a need to avoid silence. It may mean that we have to walk away from the egocentric idea that our comfort zone is what s most important.
You can read the article from The National Post by Clicking here.