Monthly Archives: July 2008

Golf Video


At long last I have completed a video of the golf outing on Sunday. You can get a look at it by clicking below or follow this link to view it directly in youtube (often better quality.)  Congratulations to our winners Les Burgon and John Rekker with a score of 68. A good time was had by all for sure.  

 

 

Today is the feast day of St. Martha. It is a day which really marks the love and witness of hospitality. Let us all hope that we can work to show the hospitality of Martha at the same time seeking to stop and listen to the presence of Jesus in our lives. You can read more about Martha by simply clicking here.

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Golf Balls and Butterflies


Just in from our wonderful Golf outing.  A great day at Hydeaway! Thanks so much John and Jean Anderson, Al and Dee Oakley and John and Miki Blair, Bud and Suzanne Piercell for planning a great day. Many Thanks as well to all who donated prizes and all who came out to play. Elaine Janosik was a real trooper today getting us all registered and on the course.  The whole day was great because so many worked so hard to make it happen. I will be working to put together a Video highlight of the day over the next day or so – so stay tuned for it.

 

In the meantime I produced a video, thanks to the photographic talents of Catherinanne , for Geoff and Margaret in celebration of the 60th Anniversary last weekend. You can view it on the page here, or if it is a little slow click here to view in directly from youtube – Geoff is pretty happy to be on the world wide web!

 

 

This was a long but wonderful day. That’s all I have for now, except to add these words of Robert Frost. I saw a magnificent butterfly today. It reminded me of this poem!

 

Blue-Butterfly Day
by: Robert Frost

 

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.

 

From "New Hampshire", 1923

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Golf is a Funny Game


“If a lot of people gripped a knife and fork the way they do a golf club, they’d starve to death.” Those words of Sam Snead are hilarious. Thank God that I know how to properly grip a knife and a fork as evidenced by my fine physique. But Snead is right – perhaps the answer to loosing weight will be for me to hold that knife and fork in the same way that I hold the golf club. I spent part of yesterday on the Ambassador golf course with Gregg Charlton, Jerry Fraser and Gary Lauzon. It was a great day in support of the Essex Region Conservation Authority.

The highlight of the day was in our last hole which was number 8. It was a par 3 with a hole in one prize of a Harley Davidson. Gary Stepped up to the ball and plopped it on, it rolled past the hole about 8 inches to the right. From where we were it looked like it was headed in the hole. I think Gary’s heart stopped beating for a minute there. It was a remarkable really. Other highlights included Gregg driving the ball to forever on each hole, Fuzzy hitting just the most beautiful and straight drives, I had a few good second shots to put us on the dance floor and Gary was as I said dialled in to the point where he almost aced one. Did we win anything? No! Did we have a great time – …o yeah

It was good fun, good camaraderie, and good food and a great cause. Thank you to Gregg Charlton and Jim Evans for getting me involved in great day. It was also a great warm up for this weeks St. Mark’s by-the-Lake Open. We are all looking forward to Sunday and I feel a little warmed up now having played a scramble yesterday.  

It would be wrong to have a day so good as yesterday go undocumented. So I present to you a youtube video which shows great highlights of the day – a few good laughs in there for sure.    

YOU MAY FIND IT EASIER TO GO STRAIGHT TO THE YOUTUBE VIDEO BY CLICKING HERE - SOMETIMES THE EBEDDED VIDEO IS A LITTLE SLOW. tRY THE LINK ISTEAD IF THIS IS THE CASE

        

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I Hear a Drill!!!


Johnny Carson once famously said, “Happiness is your dentist telling you it won’t hurt and then having him catch his hand in the drill. 

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That is a great line. I have had almost every dental procedure known to humanity, at least it seems that way. While most are a little scared going to the dentist, I must say that I am not. That is not to suggest that it is always without pain. Today I had a root canal on a tooth that received root canal treatment 10 years ago when I was in Labrador City. That was quite an event in itself. It ranks right up there among my favourite dental stories. I saw a great Scottish dentist named Charlie, and everyone knew him as Charlie. I can’t even remember his last name. There were no dental specialists in Labrador City. Charlie explained to me that this big tooth of mine would have three roots. He would drill them out and fill them with a great rubber product and bingo bango my tooth pain would be gone and I would still have my tooth. Having had six  extraction by that time I was pleased to keep a tooth. I went to my appointment, Charlie worked diligently and when finished explained to me that he could only find two roots. “Not u prrrrooooblemmm Kiiven, some tooooths unly ave tuuuu rrrroooooots,” he proclaimed with confidence and I was happy to be free from the chair and home I went. At 10 PM a neighbour turned up to chat about some things happening for him in life. An hour into this fine chap telling me his story, I found the third root, my head almost exploded in pain and I fell to the floor. The neighbour was a little concerned to say the least and somehow put me in touch with Charlie at 11 PM at night. Charlie cheerfully said from the other end of the line, “OOOKAAAY – NOOO PRRRROOOOBLUMMM. MEET ME AT THE CLINIC.” I did just that and that night I became a dental assistant. While Charlie worked diligently I held instruments for him. It was magic! At midnight I was all patched up. Where else on the face of the planet can you get that kind of care? It was awesome and I was so grateful for what he did.

Here we are 10 years later. I have since done a lot of restorative work in my mouth thanks to Drs. Bud Piercell, Dave Anderson and Jim Ghilzon, and I now add to that list Dr. Emon. In Don Quixote I am told there is a line that says “Every tooth in a man’s head is more valuable than a diamond.” In my mouth that may very well be true. I jest about the cost of all this work, but in reality I have come to value so much having my teeth. Someone once said that “You don’t have to brush your teeth – just the ones you want to keep.” This is very true. I tell kids all the time, that my poor dental care as a child and teenager was what caused such devastation in my mouth. I am so thankful for the care shown me by the dentists and surgeons that have treated me here in Windsor. They have given me back a smile.

Today I learned what an endodontist is. Dr. Emon who treated me, does root canals all day every day. His specialty is root canals. He drilled into the innards of my #16 with the same enthusiasm with which I dive into a Big Mac! It was amazing really. He managed to find the three roots that Charlie treated over 10 years ago and ….wait for it….he found one more. “Too bad there is no oil in dem der hills!” Next week I get to see a periodontist for the first time and then back to the dentist for a crown on the whole thing. All the while I get ready to complete my third dental implant. The prosthesis is being made as we speak…or write…or read…or whatever! All I can say is – “Just Smile!”

All that drilling has left me a little tender and sore and I can honestly say that while moving a hall is no fun, I will not say – “I’d rather have a root canal than pack and move the hall.” I am so grateful to the whole crew who have been working to get the place ready for work. Jane has been at the church hall almost non-stop since Sunday getting things in order so that she can continue with children’s programming at the same time as having one hand tied behind her back. She has had her elves with her as well and they have been very good to bounce along with all of this inconvenience.  I am sure that she might very well say that she would rather have a root canal than go through all of this. In the meantime there have been a dozen or more people come out and pack and move things and they have been tireless in their work as well.

It is sort of like dental work really when you think about it. We have a little work to get done. It is not cheap. When it is done it will look GREAT and will be much more useful. We may have to go through some discomfort and a little pain to get to the final result but when it is complete, we will no doubt forget most of that. And as specialists go, we have the best in Dr. Norm Becker. We just have to care for each other through it all and know that we will be able to smile real big when it is all done.

Tenderly I remain, Smiling on one Side,

Revy Kevy!

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A Groundbreaking Sunday!


shovels

 

Sunday was one really big and really great day. It was a moment that will be remembered by many for a lot of years to come. I was so pleased to be a part of it.

Our focus yesterday was ‘bridge building.’ I proposed in my homily that what we are building is a bridge. While we are erecting a building, we do so not for our edification but for the glorification of God. We are expanding our facility because we are getting full in the space that we now live in. We are getting full in the space that we now live in because we have embraced outreach as our primary ministry. The youth ministry in our parish is great because our youth love to give, to help, to minister. Our parish is constantly working to get involved in the community around us as well as in our global village. Each time we feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the prisoner, or welcome the stranger we welcome Jesus.  I feel strongly that we need to keep before us the great commission and be careful not to fall into the temptation of being self-absorbed because of our building.  This space that we are erecting is for us ‘a bridge over troubled waters.’ It can be for us the very tool that we need for the one who ‘is down and out…on the street.’ We can take the added space to look for ‘the tears in the eyes and dry them all.’  We want to be there when ‘pain is all around, like a bridge over troubled water…’

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Being present to each other and to the world around us is a great gift. I was pleased yesterday that we were shown that support from the community around us. We were pleased to have our Mayor Gary McNamara, and our MP Joe Comartin on hand to offer support. We were pleased to have friends form the other faith communities in town.  The Reverend Sharon Willis-Whitewell from Tecumseh United, Captain Steve and Erika White, Father Robert Couture from St. Anne’s and Father Bill Bradley from St. John’s in Sandwich  were all on hand at one point or another which showed great love given they all had to come from their own liturgies. Also present were John Rocheleau and Jerry Marcotte from the Knights of Columbus. Who have been nothing short of tremendous in the midst of all of our issues, providing space whenever we need it . Archdeacon Jane Humphreys from St. Mary’s Church was on hand and offred remarks on behalf of our diocesan partner. We thank you Jane for your prayers and your support

Archdeacon 2

 

Seeing Norm Becker yesterday and hearing his own sense of excitement for the project gave me a great deal of excitement and pride as well. As Geoff Dibbs pointed out in his remarks at the groundbreaking, this can be a little bit scary, but I confess that much of that fear is taken way when I speak with Norm as he is so competent and so excited about what he can do.

I offer my thanks to all who made Sunday such a great day. While Andrea was away, her sister Meghan Byrne did a wonderful job and we thank her for her music yesterday. The choir cane out early and was in fine form.  Thanks to Christian Paulton for his offering of ‘Bridge over Troubled Water.’  Marion Hinton and Amanda Dibbs did a great job of planning a great reception, the Wardens planned marvellously and our Geoff was stellar as usual. It was great that so many came out on a hot summer day to celebrate our expansion, so the greatest thanks is reserved for each and every parishioner who have thrown their support and their commitments behind this project.

I was also moved very much to see Jack Heeley and Art Shields put those shovels into the ground. Jack and his wife Minne along with Art and his wife Arlene were present at the original groundbreaking in 1954. They are pioneers of our church and they have been faithful witnesses to God in this community. We owe them a great debt of gratitude for all that they have done to keep this place moving, often inspite of ordained leadership and not because of it.    

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Art And Arlene Shields

Jack Heeley

Jack Heeley

 

Going back to my last post on this page – I could really see and celebrate Andrew Robinson’s Seven Habits of Effective Churches.  To recap -

 

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Churches

1.    Strive for excellence in service to Christ.

2.    Cultivate a spirit of innovation and experimentation.

3.    Take the initiative to build relationships with people and groups in the wider community beyond your congregation.

4.    Accept responsibility for mistakes, learn from them, and in all things let grace abound.

5.    “Always be prepared to give an account of the hope that is within you.” (1 Peter 3:15)

6.    Be willing to let people go in order to stay focused on your core mission.

7.    Splash it on!

It was a great day to ‘Splash it on’ – and we did. If you would like to see photos and even better a video of the great event please visit our parish webpage at  www.stmarkschurch.net – and leave us a note with your thoughts on our guestbook.  While you are there check out the photos of the big move. Those guys and gals have been working hard for sure!

There is more excitement to come I am sure – stay tuned!

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Looking for the Soap?


I read somewhere on the internet this week that “Evangelism is someone out of the shower telling someone else where the soap is.”  I have no idea who said that or where it comes from but I think it is accurate.  I like the word evangelism; I’d like to think that I am evangelical and NOT Evangelical. (Only difference in there is a capital E). Brian McLaren actually writes extensively about how the word evangelical ahs been hijacked. I think he is right, and I think we ought to work as a people of God to reclaim that word for what it is. Let us get to proclaiming to all ‘where the soap is.’

It is a great gift that our church is about to break ground again after 54 years. I think of all the evangelists that have called this parish home over all of those years. We have a great place here called St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. Lives are changes, loyalties renewed and hearts enlivened for faith is God, faith in Jesus.  We have seen some remarkable growth in the past few years and it is because those who have been washed over with the ,love of this community have been walking the streets with the soap still fresh in their hair telling others about the soap of this community, about the soap of our faith and the soap of our God. I want to make mention here of Art and Arlene Shields and Jack and Minnie Heeley who have faithfully from the time of the last groundbreaking, before our church was built been working to let others know about this community, their faith and all about God.  They will be on hand Sunday to assist us in turning another page in our book and encouraging us younger generations to work as faithfully and diligently as they have so that as we move forward we can be assured of the promise that God will be faithful to this community. Our ancestors have been great evangelist and so must we be good evangelists. We can begin by inviting people to our Ground-Breaking ceremony on Sunday. Let’s take this Sunday to be a Bring a Friend Sunday and so what we can to let others know about the soap that has been so cleansing and refreshing for us in this place.

Evangelism for me is very much about entering into relationship, as Jesus did, with the disciples, the Samaritan woman at the well, with Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, Mary his mother, with Lazarus, and with Martha and with so many others.  Jesus’ basic mode of evangelism was relationships that were ripe with love and with respect. We have the ability to do great things, but only when we have confidence that God will be with us, will guide us and will help us.

Am I and evangelical? – hell ya!….oh by th way the soap is right over there…….

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Seven habits of effective churches


I just finished an interview with Bill England from The Shoreline  about our upcoming expansion and in particular about our groundbreaking on Sunday Morning. Among other things, he asked me about why people are coming to St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. Why are we growing when there are churches closing? After he left I picked up my Congregations magazine from the Alban Institute and read an article about the seven habits of highly ineffective churches and the seven habits of highly effective churches. I think I could have given him this article and said here is the answer to your question.    .

 

Anthony B. Robinson is the writer and he offers this;

 

 Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Churches

1.    Elevate mediocrity to a spiritual discipline.

2.    Take no risks.

3.    Practice the following evangelism strategy: “If they want us, they know where to find us.”

4.    Blame early and often.

5.    Always be prepared to make an account of the excuses that are within you.

6.    Make it clear to all that the job of the pastor(s) and staff is to keep everyone, meaning church members, happy.

  1. Spend as little money as possible.

Perhaps you are familiar with churches that follow these seven habits to a letter or at least a part of them. I know that I have belonged to these church communities and they are really not fun places to be. Mediocrity is celebrated in these places. Robinson says in his article that these congregations “figure out where average falls and aim just below there.” These churches engage in sending all new ideas to committees so that no risk has to be assumed, and conversations about liability re not uncommon.  Robison goes on to talk about backward evangelism where churches look like fortresses and signage and welcoming committees are pretty much not necessary n these places because it is the responsibility of the seeker to figure it all out his/herself. The blame game is often alive and well in any dysfunctional congregation. The usual targets are the minister, the newcomer or even Satan. I particularly like his explanation of habit number 6 – keeping everyone happy. Robinson writes, “Think of your church as “The Love Boat,” and the pastor as the cruise director and activity planner. The job of clergy and staff members is to keep everyone on board happy. If someone is unhappy, it’s a sure sign your pastor is not doing the job.”After some time captaining the “Love Boat,” I can see how in some congregations that could be a big problem. We do not like conflict in churches and sometimes avoid it even if it means avoiding doing the right thing. He goes on to say that keeping a church ineffective also means assuming the the best church programs are cheap ones and that if the church facility was good enough for our grandparents then it out to be good enough for us! Renovations? – unnecessary!

But Mr. Robinson has some great ideas about effective churches. In each of these seven habits I see a reflection of the strengths of St. Mark’s by-the-Lake.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Churches

1.    Strive for excellence in service to Christ.

2.    Cultivate a spirit of innovation and experimentation.

3.    Take the initiative to build relationships with people and groups in the wider community beyond your congregation.

4.    Accept responsibility for mistakes, learn from them, and in all things let grace abound.

5.    “Always be prepared to give an account of the hope that is within you.” (1 Peter 3:15)

6.    Be willing to let people go in order to stay focused on your core mission.

  1. Splash it on!

I believe Robinson is correct in his assertion that we should strive for excellence. In planning worship, or dinners, or children’s programs or anything else, give your very best! It is for God’s service and it should be in abundance. I always look at it like inviting the guest over myself. You would want to use your best silver and best place settings. You tell your best stories and serve your best wine. You prepare and put your best foot forward. I think that each week at our feast we are welcoming guest, and we have to be prepared to the extra guests each week. We must strive for excellence over mediocrity and this church has always done a marvellous job of that. 

In expositing habit # 2, cultivating a spirit of experimentation Robinson writes, Make the “seven last words of the church,”—that is, “We’ve never done it that way before”—a distant memory. I am so grateful that we have not heard much by way of these flimsy excuses for avoiding risks at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. Take as evidence, Hockey Jersey Sunday, the Blessing of the Golf clubs, Bring a friend Sunday, Joining the church and the hall together, and on and on it goes.

It is also true to say that getting involved in the community around us is an integral part of being effective. Our church members are involved in so many different groups, charities and activities that our face is reflected in the community around us and that is a huge help. It is also fair to say that people in the community see those who identify as from our church as people who genuinely care. To this I would add to Tony Robinsons work by suggesting that vital and effective congregations are focused on outreach. This parish made its way back to health by reaching beyond its walls to help others. In my mind, no outreach means a dying community.

Robinson asserts that we have to be prepared to let people go, understanding that it is impossible for everyone to be happy.When folks are unhappy, connect, talk, and pray with them. If things remain stuck, let them go with your blessing, giving priority to your mission.”  Bill Easum wrote about the same principle in his book Dancing with Dinosaurs, he called it Triage. He too asserted that if parishes are going to fulfill their missions, we have to be prepared to say goodbye to people who just will not embrace change and will not take on that mission.

My favourite habit of effective churches is #7 – Splash it on.  “A hospice nurse told the story of bringing an elderly woman home for the final days of her life. Noticing a large bottle of perfume on the woman’s dresser, the nurse asked, “Would you like me to dab a bit of that behind your ears?” “Honey,” said the woman to the nurse, “why don’t you just splash it on?” God loves cheerful givers. So spend money wisely, well, and freely in God’s cause.”

I believe that our church I growing because we are getting increasingly better at the ‘seven habits of effective churches’ and have turned away from the ‘seven habits of ineffective churches.’ This Sunday is good evidence of that and will be a great opportunity to celebrate the fruits of the labour of so many who have worked so hard for so long to make this place an effective home for God’s transformative love. Come and celebrate that with us at 10:30 AM – we would love to have the opportunity to have you as our guests!

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St. Mark’s and his Lion named Markus


I was looking at images today of St. Mark, many of which include the winged lion which we have affectionately named Markus in our church. Many of you may be curious about the winged lion as a symbol of St. Mark. Perhaps you may have never noticed before. But in just about any St. Mark’s Church you will find a Lion in a stained glass or on a sign or in as is the case at our church, in a wall hanging. The webpage www.americancathlolic.org has this to say about the symbol;

 

“The lion derives from Mark’s description of John the Baptist as a "voice of one crying out in the desert" (Mark 1:3), which artists compared to a roaring lion. The wings come from the application of Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures (Ezekiel, chapter one) to the evangelists.”

 

I like that image of celebrating the writing of the evangelist who would be ‘roaring’ the good news to the people far and wide. I love the wings as well because the lion looks ready to take flight, to take off as it were to set out to find the people of God wherever they might be to do God’s bidding. This strong creature seems prepared to deliver, ready to move, to pounce on opportunity, to soar to new heights and to let the world know that God is good.

 St Mark with Lion

You are probably not surprised that I see these images in the Lion, especially this week. For me Markus is a creature who is not just loyal and strong, but he/she is a Lion that will be courageous and will step out no matter how risky or how dangerous. St. Mark himself took great risks in his life to proclaim to people the Good News of God’s love. Ultimately it cost him his life.

 

We are about to embark on a BIG project here at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. We will set things into motion this Sunday July 20th with a Mass of Celebration at 10:30 AM and an official groundbreaking at 11:45 AM. Now it all gets a little exciting and scary all at the same time. But we have a great deal of hope. It is a hope rooted in the life and teaching of Jesus, much of which we have learned about in the writings of our patron saint Mark! We need to look to our patron and to the symbol of our patron for inspiration. Are we taking risk? Absolutely! Are there a host of church in growth mode? Certainly not! Couldn’t we just rest on our laurels and be happy with things the way they are? Yes we could! So why take on a project so large?

 

We are a people of the Gospel. In many depictions of the winged lion, the lion holds an open book representative of the scriptures. In almost all of the artistic representations of St. Mark’s he is hold a scroll or an open book, also representative of the scriptures. At St. Mark’s by-the-Lake we are a people of the Gospel. Over 55 years ago some fine folks in this area were moved by the gospel to seek to serve Jesus in a church community, a church that they would build and call St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. Today we feel that same desire to seek out Christ in all persons. So effective are we getting at that mission are we that our church is getting full. We have to be inspired by the words of the scripture that we are called to be a people who serve one another and we can more effectively do that by taking this bold step forward in faith.

 

We are a people of faith. We are NOT a people governed by fear. We look around us and understand that while we may from tome to time feel scared and frightened, that ultimately God is with us in all things. Mark too feared in his ministry, usually for his life. The lion gives us courage to put our fear aside and embrace our faith and our inner strength knowing that all things work together for those who love the Lord.

 

We are a people of Good News. We need to share that good news with the community around us and we will be better able to do that when we ample room for them to join us. Mark wrote of John the Baptist proclaiming the imminent arrival of light and love in Jesus. WE NEED TO PROCALIM THE IMMENENT ARRIVAL OF THE LIGHT AND LOVE IN JESUS. We need to invite our family and our friends out to this great place so that we might transform more lives, include more of God’s family in being church, and we might paint an even more beautiful mosaic of God’s family by seeking to be as inclusive as we possibly can.  Please don’t keep this Sunday a secret tale a page from our Patron’s book and proclaim the love of God in Jesus as expressed at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake.

 

Need a personal invitation to give to a friend? Email me and I will gladly provide one.

We are going to have a BIG Sunday.

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Help us Break Ground


 

This official invitation has been sent out to our community.

Please invite your friends and family along!

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St. Mark’s by-the-Lake is

RAISING THE ROOF

and we want you to be a part of the celebration.

 

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In 2006 our parish began to look at ways to more effectively minister to community around us. The culmination of that work is the ‘Raising the Roof’ campaign, which was launched in February 2007. The plan – to expand our church’s capacity to meet the ever growing needs on Sunday mornings and throughout the week. It is Good News to be in a church community that has doubled its parish list in less than a ten year period. We had an exciting 2007 as we encouraged support from our membership and moved through the process of receiving support from the Diocese of Huron. The success of our campaign and the support of our diocesan partner, our friends, and our parishioners has now brought us to this great place of celebration.

On July 20, 2008

we will have an official

Ground-Breaking.

The work will begin in August, but this gives us an opportunity to thank all who have brought us to this important point. We would be pleased if you could join us for this big day in the life of St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. Our Liturgy of Celebration will begin at 10:30 AM with an official groundbreaking outside, at the conclusion of the service at 11:45 AM. This will be followed by a light reception. Dr. Norm Becker, who is engineering the project, will be on hand with Contractor Fausto Volpatti to answer questions regarding the exciting new look of St. Mark’s by-the-Lake.

We would be honoured if you could join us on July 20th.

Please let us know that you are coming by RSVP to stmarkschurch@cogeco.net

or by phone at 519 735 4921. 

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McLaren at Lambeth


I was reading today on the Anglican Communion Official Website that one of the guest speakers at this Lambeth Conference is Brian McLaren.  The page says, “Brian McLaren is an American evangelical, the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church, a prolific author, and an internationally recognised contributor to post-modern thought and culture. Dr McLaren is also an activist, serving as chair of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, a US-based evangelical social justice ministry. He is also a founding member of Red Letter Christians, a group of evangelical leaders who work to apply Christian values to issues such as poverty, environmental care, and peace.”

 

Some of you might remember that I was quite moved and motivated b y his book, A Generous Orthodoxy about a year or so ago.

I was thrilled to hear that he is speaking at Lambeth. I am not sure if the bishops that are there gathered will be ready for his message, but I do believe that those who lead the church need to hear him now more than ever. Here is a sampling:

 "Perhaps our ‘inward-turned, individual-salvation-oriented, un-adapted Christianity’ is a colossal and tragic misunderstanding, and perhaps we need to listen again for the true song of salvation, which is ‘good news to all creation.’ So perhaps it’s best to suspend what, if anything, you ‘know’ about what it means to call Jesus ‘Saviour’ and to give the matter of salvation some fresh attention. Let’s start simply. In the Bible, save means ‘rescue’ or ‘heal’. It emphatically does not mean ‘save from hell’ or ‘give eternal life after death,’ as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon. Rather its meaning varies from passage to passage, but in general, in any context, save means ‘get out of trouble.’ The trouble could be sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment, or any kind of danger or evil."

This calls the church to an understanding of its mandate to feed the hungry, save the lost, cloth the naked, etc. In many ways we need to be saved from ourselves. The question becomes are the bishops ready to heed that message.

 

McLaren has a refreshingly open approach to orthodoxy.

"Ask me if Christianity (my version of it, yours, the Pope’s, whoever’s) is orthodox, meaning true, and here’s my honest answer: a little, but not yet. Assuming by Christianity you mean the Christian understanding of the world and God, Christian opinions on soul, text, and culture I’d have to say that we probably have a couple of things right, but a lot of things wrong, and even more spreads before us unseen and unimagined. But at least our eyes are open! To be a Christian in a generously orthodox way is not to claim to have the truth captured, stuffed, and mounted on the wall."

Again, this is not radical, as much as it is common sense. Yet the church leadership continues to treat the truth as an element that they we have captured and mounted in our dens. We live in a present climate where we have one arm of the Anglican Church willing and ready to lop off the arm because of ‘orthodoxy.’ My grandparents were Salvation Army. I had a discussion with an Anglican Priest a few years back who told me that because of the lack of baptism people who are Salvation Army have ‘doomed souls.’ DOOMED! I asked a follow-up – of course. What exactly does that mean for my Grandfather (my Grandmother was baptized prior to joining the Army)? The answer was definite and quick, “HELL.” I was stupefied to be honest. I did not need an outsider’s assessment of my Grandfathers state of Salvation. But more stupefying to me was the attitude of a young priest in the latter part of the 20th Century who was prepared to have such pure control over orthodoxy and the truth. It was clear to me that he owned it, and that our church (as well as a few others he would acknowledge) had it.  The real question is where did a young priest learn such a thing? – From a bishop, and from the church!

You see I think we get all excited and jump up on our high horses when we hear Pope Benedict XVI declares that there is one true church. We get all hot and bothered when we go to a Catholic Mass and are refused communion. It is legitimate that we should be angered by such exclusions in Christianity, but let us be clear that we suffer the same attitudes in our own Church, The Anglican Communion. The next couple of weeks will see us read countless media reports about Lambeth and the impending schisms in the church. There will be bishops speaking of ‘orthodoxy’ as if they own it. I am not sure they are ready for Brian McLaren.  In the meantime I am thrilled that they will have him speaking and hope that they might heed a word or two.

 

McLaren in a PBS Special about Emerging Church said this about salvation, "The church has been preoccupied with the question, "What happens to your soul after you die?" As if the reason for Jesus coming can be summed up in, "Jesus is trying to help get more souls into heaven, as opposed to hell, after they die." I just think a fair reading of the Gospels blows that out of the water. I don’t think that the entire message and life of Jesus can be boiled down to that bottom line." I hope that Lambeth has an opportunity to hear this man speak to them about a loving and compassionate man named Jesus. I hope they get to hear about how that man was God’s very essence and that he offers salvation for us all, loves us all, and wants us all to know that we are precious. I hope that they hear Brian McLaren talk about how we can make change a reality in the church if we focus our attention on Love and on the loving actions of this Saviour. Jesus who did not come to just count up souls for heaven, but Jesus who ate with the sick and the rejected; Jesus who visited with the lonely and put shirts of the naked. I hope they meet Jesus in McLaren and in his words and I pray that our leadership would then walk away from rigid arguments about ‘right belief’ and embrace an opportunity for ‘right action!’

 

A Prayer for Lambeth

“Pour down upon our Church, O God, the gifts of your Holy Spirit, that those who prepare for the Lambeth Conference may be filled with wisdom and understanding.   May they sense at work within them the creative energy and vision which belong to our humanity, made in your image and redeemed by your love, through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen” 

 

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