What a weekend we had! St Aidan’s was fortunate to have world class liturgical animator Phil Jakob with us. Phil stayed with Catherinanne and I over the weekend as he came to town to lead a Mission for the Deanery of London. I first met Phil at the Abbey of Iona while we were on pilgrimage there in 2010. I was moved by Phil’s faith and his ability to bear witness to it with word and song. Phil  lead our mission on Saturday and all who were present bore witness to these gifts. Phil was also present to the Faculty of Theology at HUC on Friday. He worked hard while he was here.  Philip who has played organs from Notre Dame to Sacré Coeur, and cathedrals of Chartres, Beauvais, Laon, Rheims, Soissons, Bergerac, Toulouse, Ypres, Ghent, as well as several other churches in the UK, Belgium, Holland and Spain.  Phil Jakob was Music Director in the Diocese of Hallem in the UK. When he was let go as a result of poor stewardship and financial mismanagement The people of St Lawrence in Tampa Florida saw great opportunity and jumped at the change to bring this world class talent to North America. I am glad they did – it meant he was so much closer. It was a joy to reignite a friendship forged on the sacred soil of Iona.

SO…
Here is an audio recording of Phil’s preaching. Within it, he introduces a new piece of music of Marty Haugen. St Aidan’s church was the first place to pray these words. We were honoured and blessed to do so.  Thank you Philip for a tremendous weekend.

The TEXT

REFLECTION FOR THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING,
ST AIDAN’S, LONDON, ONTARIO, CANADA

The trouble with today’s celebration of Christ the King is that it can lead us to spend the day, the month, the year or our entire discipleship life in simply worshipping the undoubted greatness of Jesus Christ, God-made-man. Worship is only one element in discipleship.

Another, and more challenging element,is to enflesh the person of Jesus Christ in our own lives, priest, prophet and king (as we are all baptised). My old Bishop in UK, John Rawsthorne, now retired but very active, used to say that our full, active and conscious participation in the Eucharist is completed by our full, active and conscious participation in action for justice in the world. We will be familiar with the writings of the apostle James …Prayer without action means nothing!

Discipleship can be costly. Where Jesus went we are invited to follow. So let’s look at today’s Gospel ….

Jesus Christ was sent to his death by religious people who may have thought they were doing the right thing. They bring him before the Roman authority.
Pilate is in a fix. He has the authority to send Jesus to his death or to free him. He admits to finding no fault with him but prefers to wash his hands of responsibility regarding his fate. He hears the truth in his heart but, fearing a riot of protest from the mob, seems to lack the integrity to carry the truth into his own actions.

In other accounts of the same event Jesus says very little to defend himself. He remains silent to questioning. Since he is Truth, why should he need to defend what he is? I am reminded of the advice of St Francis

‘Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words.’

There are several instances in the Gospel narratives when we might wonder why God did not intervene. Divine intervention would have made everything so much easier. But then God would have denied the very freedom he gave humanity – the freedom to choose good or evil. Truth or untruth.

“Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice”

Truth is a virtue we are all invited to reflect in our lives. For Jesus says, ‘The truth will set you free’.
What is our truth??

When we see a report of an atrocity in the media do we reel with horror?
Has the casual access we daily have to such horror anesthetized our senses?
I recall being in the company of a friend who visibly broke down when news broke of another bombing in Ireland, this time in the town of Omagh.
The bombing brought with it the death of innocent by-standers. She was so connected to her fellow humanity and their pain was hers.

Do we rejoice with hope at news of the landslide election victory of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar? Are we surprised that the topic of her first meeting with the military powers was a non-violent solution to the country’s challenges? Do we greet good news stories with tears of joy and tragedy with tears of sadness?
Where is our truth?

Do we confront convenient lies?
In the aftermath of the killings in Paris last week I heard several instances of anti-Islamic comment from ordinary people in the bar I frequent.

Attempts to introduce my understanding that such extremism betrayed Islam, that Islamic scholars had issued a public statement denouncing this extremism and that ordinary Muslims were afraid of an ignorant backlash from their neighbours were all met with disbelief. They admitted that they had never encountered a Muslim but felt confident enough to express ignorant and negative opinions about them.

Then I went to my Facebook account and found one friend, Alison, commenting:

“I’m really upset that some of my Facebook friends are sharing furious rants about yesterday’s terrorist attacks and calling for terrible revenge. What we need now is not more violence but to work and pray for love, peace and justice to prevail.
‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.’

 

Others of my friends had super-imposed a French flag on their profile photos. They never did the same for the recent bringing down of a Russian plane or for the killing of innocents in Kenya the day after attacks in Paris. Collective conscience can be so selective and so media-driven.

But what is our truth?

I was really impressed by the way in which Canada, and particularly the churches owned its responsibility for the mistreatment of First Nations people As witnessed in the June report of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Not every nation has reacted with the same integrity.

In its 400 pages are detailed witness statements and harrowing evidence about the treatment of children in ‘residential schools’ in what is described as ‘cultural genocide’. Truth sets a nation free to become truly human – multicultural even, to be one nation: many cultures. Not for nothing does one of my colleagues in the Iona Community say “God’s favourite colour is tartan!”

This openness has already led you in this parish of St Aidan to consider how it might respond to the refugee movements from Syria and elsewhere. This is a wholly Christian attitude. The welcome we extend to the stranger is a characteristic we share with followers of both Judaic and Islamic faiths. And in greeting the stranger we often welcome angels in disguise!

Sing IN THESE TIMES by Marty Haugen

When I was living in UK I sold my house in one affluent part of Sheffield and moved into a much larger house in the most run-down part of the city. I had friends there and had become impressed by the sense of community in that area. But even still my friends could not understand why I needed a 6-bedroom house. Even I was skeptical!

Then opportunity came my way.
Sheffield became one of the major dispersal areas for asylum seekers in UK. The system could not really cope with the massive influx of broken people. And in time communities began to respond to their needs for food, learning English and friendship. Occasionally this led to legal representation as some refugees were described as bogus or illegal. These are terrible and most objectionable labels to place on any human being. When government support to an asylum seeker was terminated for whatever reason, what was he or she to do, prevented from earning a living and without food or housing?

I was fortunate enough to be able to offer my spare rooms to accommodate some of them. Over a period of 3 years I gained immensely from the experience of sharing what, by the grace of God, I had with those who had nothing. I only stopped hosting people when the processing of asylum cases became more efficient and they were either accepted or deported more speedily.

Some of my guests were deported but others were eventually welcomed into UK or, in the case of Seraphim, transferred to Australia. Seraphim had been a well-known radio broadcaster in Congo and chose to speak the truth which led to his arrest and torture. He managed to escape and eventually arrived in England where he spent 7 years awaiting a decision about his case for asylum. His wife and 7 children had been in a refugee camp in Malawi before being transferred to Australia where they now live happily together.

On one occasion my mother promised to visit me in Sheffield and I took the opportunity to mention that there would be another person, Seraphim, staying with me. When she heard the details she asked if I felt safe, if this was legal. She had read convenient lies in her chosen newspaper and had believed them, but it was an unexpected encounter with a human being behind the headlines that changed her mind.

Our opinions are formed by received instruction and by our life experiences. When these experiences force us to confront previously conceived ideas we may also change our minds. This is a sign of our maturity as human beings: the ability to change our minds when our previously conceived notions are challenged by injustice or untruth.

Jesus was a bit like my mum.

An unexpected encounter with a foreign woman (the Syro-Phonecian woman) caused him to confront his own pre-conceptions and to widen the understanding of his mission to embrace all nations rather than simply his own.

So where do we all go from here? How should we respond to the Gospel today?

We know that evil flourishes when good people do nothing. When Mother Teresa was asked how she managed to touch the lives of so many thousands of people she replied; “One person at a time.”

So be strong.
Let’s be the people God created us to be.
We are the body of Christ and not the corpse.

(SILENCE)

Affirmation of Faith
written by Allan Boesak

It is not true that this world and its inhabitants are doomed to die and be lost.

THIS IS TRUE:
FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON
SO THAT EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT DIE,BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction.

THIS IS TRUE:
I HAVE COME THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE,
AND HAVE IT ABUNDANTLY

It is not true That violence and hatred shall have the last word, And that war and destruction have come to stay for ever.

THIS IS TRUE:
FOR TO US A CHILD IS BORN,
TO US A SON IS GIVEN, IN WHOM AUTHORITY WILL REST, AND WHOSE NAME WILL BE PRINCE OF PEACE.

It is not true That we are simply victims of the powers of evil that seek to rule the world.

THIS IS TRUE:
TO ME IS GIVEN AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH,
AND LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, TO THE END OF THE WORLD

It is not true That we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,who are the prophets of the church, before we can do anything.

THIS IT TRUE:
I WILL POUR OUT MY SPIRIT ON ALL PEOPLE,
AND YOUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
YOUR YOUNG PEOPLE SHALL SEE VISIONS,
AND YOUR OLD FOLK SHALL DREAM DREAMS.

It is not true That our dreams of liberation of humankind, our dreams of justice, of human dignity, of peace, are not meant for this earth and its history.

THIS IS TRUE:
THE HOUR COMES, AND IT IS NOW,
THAT TRUE WORSHIPPERS SHALL WORSHIP GOD
IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH.

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