What a day at St. Aidan’s today. We celebrated the Fourth Sunday of Advent with a Christmas Pageant after the 10:30 Mass. It was Awesome. The children, their parents, and the teachers all did a wonderful job of preparing. It was a real delight. (You can see photos below the sermon below)
We also said our farewell to Alex Strong. Alex has been our interim Director of Children’s Christian Education — For Two years now. Alex’s love for the children is evident and their love for her is on full display each week. She has been a gift for us and we will miss her. Author Lisa Wingate wrote: –
…Children are the greatest gift God will give…, and their souls the heaviest responsibility God will place in your hands. Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much!
Alex has served our children well. She has taken time with them, taught them faith, and has been a person in whom the children could have faith. For that we shall forever be grateful. We all love you!
Alex will continue her teaching career is the school system and we wish her every success. I can’t say enough how much we appreciated Alex’s ministry with us. Please join me in sending her best wishes. (Comment section upper right)
Today’s sermon was focused on Mary’s YES and her willingness to be a God-bearer in the ordinariness of her life. You can listen to it here: (Text is below) I look forward to your feedback and thoughts.
Joe Queenan, writer for the New York Times and GQ, criticizes what he calls our culture’s “inability to accept the ordinary.” Queenan says that we insist that “every experience be a watershed, every meal extraordinary, every friendship epochal, every concert superb, every sunset meta-celestial … nothing can ever again be exactly what it was in the first place … ordinary.”
He’s right! He’s so very right. This need for exceptionality impacts so much in our lives. It influences how we view dinner and how we view a night out at the movies. Sit with a bride and Groom sometimes planning a wedding – each of the weddings will be the best ever. It impacts how we view church even. We will evaluate everything from the hymns, the anthems and heaven help us even the preaching… and heaven help us if that is ordinary!
It also impacts how we see the lives of the faithful. We fall victim to the notion that God somehow is at work in the lives of spiritual giants lake Vanier or Nouwen, Theresa of Avila or Julian of Norwich. Each Wednesday here we celebrate another Saint or perhaps commemorate the life of a woman or man of faith who has had great influence on the church. Last Wednesday for instance we celebrated the witness of Simon Gibbons – who is Simon Gibbons you ask?
Simon Gibbons, who was the first of the Inuit nation to be ordained as an Anglican priest and whose ministry in the diocese of Nova Scotia gave the rest of our Church a wonderful example of vitality.
He was born in Labrador, the son of a white settler and an Innu mother. Both of his parents died before he was six years old, and he was placed in an Anglican orphanage in Newfoundland. The Church nurtured his intelligence, and he was encouraged to train for ordination. He eventually went to King’s College in Nova Scotia, where he was ordained to the priesthood in 1878. Gibbons began his ministry as a travelling missionary in Cape Breton and laboured in conditions which taxed his physical endurance to the limit. He regularly walked a hundred-mile circuit to conduct services in isolated communities. He made his rounds even in the depths of winter, just to bring the comfort of Christ to the sick and dying; and in so doing he risked his life in blizzards or while crossing inlets whose frozen surfaces often gave way beneath his feet. Yet in all his exertions, despite fatigue, pain, and danger, Gibbons never failed in joy or in his ability to communicate the gladness of his service to the people he visited.
Now let me stop there – you see what happens. We all think – wow that Simon Gibbons was something! Walking 100 miles between parishes, being joyful even through excretion and pain and fatigue…We can’t all be like him. The danger with noting the lives of people like Simon Gibbons is falling victim to understanding how God is so very present in the very ordinary.
We do the same with the Gospel story that we hear today. It is the Annunciation to Mary. Mary is visited by the Angel Gabriel and told that she will bear the Light of Life into the world. She is a Virgin and she will give birth. That’s pretty extraordinary for sure. The whole scenario is extraordinary. What gets lost in there is the very ordinary nature of Mary and her life.
Consider this. Before she becomes the Theotokos the “God-bearer” the “Birth-Giver of God”
- Mary was a young, Jewish girl – most scholars agree that she would have been 12 or 13.
- She was a peasant girl
- She is not married – but has been contracted to marry Joseph.
- She is from Nazareth – the slums, the wrong side of the tracks if you will. Remember what the Gospel of John says; “Can anything good come out of Nazareth.”
When God blessed Mary through the words of Gabriel, ‘Greetings Favored one – Blessed one,’ this ordinary young woman whose life is far from extraordinary or exciting is to become the God-bearer. In the ordinariness of her life Mary is tasked with God bearing.
It is in the ordinariness of lives that we too are called to be ‘God-Bearers’’ – in the ordinariness of our lives we are called to be a vessel for God. As surely as the Angel Gabriel spoke Mary the word of God comes to you and me today —
“GREETINGS FAVOURED ONES – Our God is with you!
Let that sink in for a moment.
Greetings Favoured ones – beloved ones! God is with you!
Let us go back to Simon Gibbons for a moment – an orphaned child, humble, vulnerable beginnings. I said earlier that we look upon his life as something exemplary – because it was. But the truth of God’s love offered to him in the ordinariness of his life is what truly mattered.
God is with you! You are favoured! God has noticed you. God has noticed me. God wants you and me to give birth to light, to hope to peace, to love in the ordinariness of our lives. You know, it makes perfect sense that Mary was quite startled – “much perplexed” as scripture tells us. Those words were no doubt strange to Mary too. So we may find these words strange. We may be perplexed that God would notice us.
Mary says YES to God’s request to bear light – but before she does she accepts the blessing, the favour and the notice of God. After doing so she says yes to bearing God in the very ordinariness of her life.
Now turning back to us – Not every moment this week will be extraordinary. We will no doubt some of us who will over these next couple of days place extra pressure upon ourselves to have the best Christmas ever. But for most of us – that heightened expectation is dangerous. I would like for us to put aside our worries and stresses for a moment and think about where we might be this week. Who will we see? What will we do?
Now I would like us to consider if we can be God-bearers in those ordinary moments. In his novel For One More Day Mitch Albom writes – “You can find something truly important in an ordinary minute.” So in the ordinary minutes this week – will we find that truly important presence –
Because God has noticed you …remember – God has declared
“Greetings, favored ones. The Lord is with you and plans to do great things through you.”
You might ask, “How can this be?”
Well whether at work or school, whether at home or in the world, the Holy Spirit is with you and will guide you in all you do and say so that you may be a blessing to the world. It need not be extraordinary – You can bear God in the ordinariness of your walk, your journey.
Will you accept this call to bear God and see God in the ordinary?
“Let it be according to God’s word.”
 For All The Saints (Anglican Church of Canada)