Last night on my “Walk to Jerusalem” I was struck by how wonderfully quiet it is on our streets after 11 pm. Stillness! I saw the appeal of talking a ‘walk in the snow.’ It was really cold. So much so that each footstep left a firm print while echoing a loud scrunch into the night air. It was a great time for prayer, and a great time to reflect. It allowed me to think of those who have asked for prayers. It allowed me to take notice of the sights, sounds, and smells around me. I was reminded that I really love the smell of bounce sheets. It was odd… walking on a neighbouring street, the fragrance of fabric softener wafting across my face in the cold winter air made me feel a moment of warmth. It also kindled within me thoughts of home – of my family in Newfoundland. I’m not sure why really. But for some reason it did. Smell has a way triggering memories. For a few seconds the bitterly cold ‘bouncy’ air was redolent of the crispness of Newfoundland night. It was a pleasant and unexpected endowment from this Jerusalem sojourn.
Among the things I saw, was the image of the shadow of a fence against the snow. The light and darkness across the snow left an impression of bars. As I walked across those lines I prayed for those who are and have been imprisoned. Enjoying the freedom to walk when I want, where I want, whenever I want has me praying for those who cannot. I prayed for those like Mohamed Fahmy whose jailing in Egypt with lack of evidence or process leaves him and his family longing for his freedom. At the same time I found myself thinking of those who are prisoners because of illness of mind, body, or spirit. Thinking of those whose condition restricts their life and freedom in any way, set me to pray for each of them as they came to mind. Then my mind drifted to the ways I am imprisoned. I searched myself for the next little while of my walk. I had a heart to heart with God – with whom I can be most honest – and prayed to be set free from those things that keep me from being me.
Another image was that of an apparently dead tree standing tall against the wind and the snow. Resilient! Sometimes even when things appear to be past their best before date, they still have a lot to give. [Just ask the Rev’d Anne Jaikaran – she has a theory about BB dates]. This gave me pause to consider the church. It is no secret to people in the Western world that the church has seen better days. People reminisce about full churches and bursting Sunday schools all the time. But those days have long gone. There are pockets of growth and new life, and I am fortunate to minister along with the people of St. Aidan’s in such an environment. That said, nowadays Diocesan Councils across this country consider motions for congregations to disestablish at a consistent clip, while applications for expansion, growth or a church plants are few and far between. Walking in the snow last evening and seeing that old Ash tree standing with great majesty into the wind, I could not help but think about the church and how it too is standing against the odds. Of the tree, I found myself musing about the fact that someone should take the initiative to have the tree cut down. Then found myself asking – who will care enough to plant something new in its place? In a sense, that’s where we are at in the church too. Each time a church closes, or another congregation disestablishes, another object of strength, resiliency, and character is gone for good. So I find myself asking – who will plant the seeds of hope that will grow the church of tomorrow. The church will be different – it may not have the same stature, it may serve another purpose, it may grow in a different way. I was thinking, It will take some work, but I do hope that we who love the church will be determined enough to sow seeds of hope and justice to grow something new that will stand in place of was and is equipped to serve what the world around us is unfolding to be…. Then I looked up…. And I was home! I wonder what I might find tonight….on the road to Jerusalem. I best go find out…..
As an aside…. I am surprised at how much snow there is on the road to Jerusalem – Kidding
Your opinions and reaction to my writing/preaching are not only welcomed,
but greatly appreciated …
Please add your thoughts by clicking ‘comments’ at the top of my post
to make a public comment!