Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

Your money and your life

Posted on: February 25th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

By Marites N. Sison on February, 23 2017

“What is money within the present economic system? What is money within God’s economy of salvation?” These are some questions raised by the report of the Task Force on the Theology of Money. Photo: Singkham/Shutterstock


Whether we admit it or not, money dominates our daily lives.

Much of our waking hours revolve around the pursuit and use of money. Most of us have to work in order to afford the basic necessities of life.

Nothing, it seems, is left untouched by money, and our relationship with it often depends on our circumstances. Money, or the lack of it, often dictates the big and small choices we make: where and how we live, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the way we get around, the company we keep, and yes, even the way we feel about ourselves. Money often determines whether one can have access to quality education and adequate health care, both of which are critical to human development.

And yet, when it comes to money, most of us operate on autopilot, mindless consumption now being the dominant response in Western societies.

Beyond worrying whether there’s going to be enough to pay for mounting bills or for one’s impending retirement, and preparing one’s income taxes, most of us don’t give much thought to money and its wider impact.

Some of us may wonder why a select few can live in the lap of luxury or why there are homeless people in our midst, but we may not necessarily question the economic conditions that give rise to these situations. Or, we may chalk it up to life being unfair.

It’s time to think more deeply about money, according to the Anglican Church of Canada’s faith, worship, and ministry committee in the 2013–2016 triennium, which released On the theology of Money: A Resource for Study and Discussion last fall.

The core of the report is Non Nobis, Domine (Not to us, Lord), a theological reflection written by the Rev. Maggie Helwig, which evolved out of many discussions, reflections and study by the Task Force on the theology of Money. The committee, struck by some of the questions around economic and social inequality raised in 2011 by the Occupy Wall Street movement, created the task force. The movement began in New York City with the political slogan “We are the 99%,” highlighting how wealth and power are concentrated in just one per cent of the U.S. population. It spawned similar movements in 80 countries around the world, including Canada.

The responses of the churches to the movement were varied, the document notes, “from welcome to wariness to warrants to keep o property.” However, it adds, “Many in the church leadership immediately recognized that, though many Occupiers were not attached to any particular faith tradition, they and the churches had a common vision, and, to some degree, a common cause—namely, to give life to Isaiah’s vision.” Isaiah’s vision, it states, was one where “people from very different backgrounds shared living space and resources, and food was served generously to anyone who needed it.”

The main questions the task force sought to answer were: “What is money within the present economic systems? What is money within God’s economy of salvation?”

The task force was also mandated to produce resources “to help the church to reflect on the nature of money and the church’s relationship with money.” The bottom line, the document states, is that “we are called everywhere and always to the work of discernment regarding our stewardship of all that God provides.”

In attempting to “map out our current relationship with money through the lens of our faith,” Helwig drew on various sources: the Bible, early and contemporary Christian theologians, and political theory. The result is an essay that is not only thorough and thought-provoking, but gracefully written.

The document, among other things, looks into what the Bible says about money, analyzes the modern/global economy and expounds on the vision of “enough.”

Some of the questions it raises: What is money? What is our relationship with money? How do we use money? What role does money play in our lives and in our world? How should we view money as Christians? And, according to its author, the necessary question: What is “enough” for me/for us?

The document includes guides for group discussions, questions for reflection and discussion on the following themes: On the authority of Scripture, On idolatry, On defining money, On interest, On inequality and consumerism, On market values versus gospel values, and Call to Action.

These reflections are ideal for discussion in groups or for personal reflection, and can even be helpful tools for sermons and lend themselves to other creative forms, says the task force. There are also worship resources, including prayers, hymns and meditations.

Too often one hears complaints that the church is not offering much in terms of theology these days. Well, folks, it’s time to study this document and put your money where your mouth is.

Marites N. Sison

Marites N. Sison

Marites N. Sison is editor of the Anglican Journal.

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Anglican Journal News, February 23, 2017

How do we act like a church?

Posted on: February 24th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

By Mark MacDonald on February, 24 2017


(This article first appeared in the February 2017 issue of the Anglican Journal.)

Until very recently, it was widely accepted that models of governance, administration and decision-making used in government were also appropriate for the church.

Today, this assumption is being questioned. The struggles over human sexuality and other matters that challenge the church’s sense of community have revealed the weaknesses of modes of decision-making that follow the legislative practice of democratic governments. People, in general, appear to be longing for a way of decision-making that is more reflective of the Christian reality that underlies our identity, hope and destiny.

That does not mean that an alternative is quickly or easily available. Though Indigenous churches have successfully used culturally-appropriate consensus procedures to make decisions for a number of decades, they have not transferred smoothly elsewhere. The Council of General Synod, for instance, has tried to use consensus in some of its decision-making, but its application is still experimental and uneven. The World Council of Churches uses consensus for decision-making, along with other means of equalizing the power dynamics between different churches with different cultural backgrounds. While it seems to be working well generally, it is not without complaint.

The Indigenous churches have used consensus within a context that involves five basic communal assumptions: 1) that consensus is the culturally appropriate and traditional way of Indigenous decision-making; 2) that decision-making is submitted first to the gospel—that reading and praying through the gospel of the day is an essential part of the decision-making process; 3) that consensus is also an appropriate way to act within a Christian context and identity; 4) wherever two or three gather together in the name of Jesus, Jesus is present and guides decision-making; and 5) the spiritual authority of the elders is recognized—they can speak when they want and for as long as they want.

While consensus may not be the answer for the future, a future answer will have to involve some of the Indigenous communal assumptions, particularly 2 – 4. They will help, I think, to form the heart of whatever means evolve to make our church’s governance more reflective of the spiritual reality we are attempting to embody as followers of Jesus, as the Body of Christ.

About the Author

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is national indigenous bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada.

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Anglican Journal News, February 24, 2017

Anna, the evangelist

Posted on: February 14th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Fred Hiltz on February, 14 2017


(This article first appeared in the February 2017 issue of the Anglican Journal.)

Coming into February, the church celebrates one of the loveliest of all festivals, The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple (Luke 2:22–40). As this story is told in sacred text, song and art, Simeon is always in the foreground. We see him reaching out to receive and cradle the Child in his arms. We hear him utter those words we know as his Song, declaring the Child to be the glory of Israel and a light to all nations. As Mary and Joseph “marvel” at the things said about him, Simeon “blesses” them. Then he turns to Mary and speaks words that for a young mother are hard to bear—words about the destiny of her child and the fall and rising of many because of him; and of a pain she will bear, “a sword that will pierce [her] soul” (Luke 2:35). Years later at the foot of the cross, she would know the anguish of which Simeon speaks in this moment.

Luke writes, “there was also a prophet, Anna…” (Luke 2:36). Like Simeon, she was righteous and devoted, never leaving the temple, “but worshipping there with fasting and prayer night and day” (Luke 2:37).

It has always been a challenge for artists to capture Anna standing still. I suppose it is because she is busy scurrying about the temple and chatting up the Child to “all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). One can just imagine her beckoning people, “Come and see. The child of whom the prophets spoke is here. Come and see him.” One can just imagine the buzz of conversation as they gather around the Child, some filled with awe and wonder and some questioning, “Can this really be the Messiah of God?” Whatever their responses, Anna just keeps on announcing the Child. She does the work of an evangelist.

In every generation, the church has been wonderfully blessed by women who, like Anna, have invited everyone to come and see the Child of Light, the Lord of Peace, and it still is. I meet them everywhere I go in my travels throughout our church.

This year, as we keep this feast, I will be remembering with intent the Annas in my own life and ministry—past and present, and I invite you to think of the Annas in yours. Let us thank God for the grace and goodness of their living, and for every word—spoken and unspoken—by which they call us to the joy of a life in Christ.

Fred Hiltz

Fred Hiltz

Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. 

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Anglican Journal News, February 14, 2017

But if the salt

Posted on: February 11th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Jeffrey Metcalfe on February, 10 2017

Main gate of Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of three main concentration camps established by the Nazi regime in Oświęcim, Poland, in the 1940s. It was converted into a Holocaust memorial and museum in 1947. Photo: Olga Koverninska


It was the most strikingly mundane road I have ever walked. Set beside a pair of iron rails, the dusty grey gravel could have led anywhere: a path to a country church, an entrance to a store parking lot, a side street leading home. Only the gates that marked the beginning of the road and the rails—and their sudden end—betrayed its meaning.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is an ordinary place of extraordinary evil.

Halfway down the road, my eyes strayed from the gravel and gazed across the grounds, taking in the enormity of the camp’s construction. Kilometres of razor wire fencing enclosed hectares of now empty fields that had once held row upon row of crowded wooden barracks in which concentration camp slave labourers, who survived the initial selection, were housed.

However, as I moved past the fence, I began to notice that the fields were not entirely empty, as they had first appeared. While the wood frames of the barracks had rotted away after the camps had closed, thick cement blocks remained embedded in the ground where they once stood.

The foundations were still there.

At that moment, it hit me: it happened. It can happen. It can happen again.

The camps may have been closed, they may have been emptied out, the buildings may have rotted away, but the foundations upon which they were built—the ancient hatreds, the desire to exclude entire categories of people, and the silence of bystanders—still sat in the field, as if waiting to be built upon once more. These cement blocks were laid not simply by those who dreamed evil in their hearts, but by those who refused to speak and act against the evil as it began to take shape.

As the genocide scholar and sociologist Helen Fein details in her work Accounting for Genocide: National Responses and Jewish Victimization During the Holocaust, church leaders speaking out against the Nazi regime’s persecution of Jews can be correlated with the eventual death counts of Jews in that nation. Where church leaders spoke out, and the more quickly they did so, the lower the death count of Jews in that nation by the end of the war.

My eyes dropped from the bricks to my satchel where I had sown my seminary’s coat of arms. Its motto, “But if the salt,” drove the point home: “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot” (Matthew 5:13). When we stay silent in the face of evil words and deeds, when our own lives begin to lose the taste of the gospel, there are consequences. Real people are thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Extraordinary evil is built upon the foundations of ordinary places and lives.

The bricks that make up those foundations, that build our society’s capacity for mass murder, do not spring up overnight. They are laid gradually through many small actions and omissions of action—ancient prejudices we fail to question, careless generalizations spoken to a friend, a family member or fellow parishioner whose discriminatory perspectives we will not confront. Over time, these acts and these failures to act accrue and solidify. They form the foundations upon which greater works of darkness can stand.

In the aftermath of January’s massacre at Quebec City’s Grand Mosque, much has been said about the role that the media and identity-politicking politicians have played in cultivating a public discourse where discriminatory rhetoric is normalized and where violent acts become thinkable. It is right that this is so. As the premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, told a news conference the day after the shooting, “Spoken words matter. Written words matter. They can of course express an idea. But they can hurt. They can hurt very much. We should all be cognizant of that.”

Journalists, media personalities, and politicians bear some moral responsibility for the words they have spoken—or failed to speak—that contributed to an atmosphere of stigmatization and hate that gave birth to such violence. And as disciples of Jesus, so do we.

In the aftermath of such horrific violence, it is cathartic for us to repeat the words, “Never again.” As time passes, as the outward appearance of those hateful acts seems to rot away, we may be tempted to believe that this evil has been closed down and emptied out. But it happened. It can happen. It can happen again.

The foundations are still there, lying in wait.

About the Author

Jeffrey Metcalfe

Jeffrey Metcalfe

Jeffrey Metcalfe is a priest from the diocese of Quebec and a doctoral student in theological studies at the University of Toronto.

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Anglican Journal News, February 10, 2017

The indelible faith of the ‘garbage people’

Posted on: February 9th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The indelible faith of the 'garbage people'

Posted By Canon Philip Mounstephen

30 January 2017

I’ve just come back from a brief visit to Cairo. Of all the places I’ve been it probably takes the prize for the most ‘creative’ driving!

One of the highlights was to visit the celebrated Cave Church cut into a cliff that seats thousands of worshippers. But what interested me most was how you get there. You turn off the highway outside the city into the Mokattam area. And suddenly you’re in a completely different place – an evidently Christian place. You see crosses everywhere; the women’s heads are uncovered – and apparently you can even buy pork.

Mokattam is not a luxurious place. In fact it is very smelly. The people who live there are known as Zabbaleen – which means ‘garbage people’: they make their living by collecting and recycling rubbish.

You can only get to the Cave Church as you pass through this area. When we finally arrived at the security gate my colleague had to show the guard the cross he has tattooed high up on his arm. But I realised once we were inside that most Coptic Christians have a cross tattooed very visibly on their wrists.

I found both the place and that fact very striking. Both spoke to me of the cross of Christ. Jesus himself was crucified outside the city on a rubbish dump. The cross was a symbol of degradation. And yet these Copts, living a marginal life as a minority under threat of persecution wear it indelibly as a mark of their identity. And they wear it as a badge of pride.

Would I be willing to live in such a place and pursue such a trade? Am I willing to be marked so indelibly with the mark of my discipleship? Many of the people we in Church Mission Society are in partnership with globally live lives that are no less precarious, marginal – and faithful. But as a relatively rich westerner although I can visit such a place, I do not have to stay. But the Christians there have no such choice. Instead they live in this place, pursue their smelly trade – and worship their crucified Lord.

My prayer is that I too might be willing to be indelibly known as a follower of Jesus’ wherever that may lead me.

Canon Philip Mounstephen,  Executive Leader, Church Mission Society

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Tuesday 31 January 2017

Blessed are the peacemakers

Posted on: February 6th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

By Rhonda Waters on January, 31 2017

 

 Photo:  IIrmun/Shutterstock


I love to read, but reading for my own interest and pleasure often falls victim to my busy schedule. One of the great joys of vacation time, therefore, is reading. This past vacation, however, the reading I chose could not be described as joyful: The Drone Eats with Me: Diaries from a City Under Fire by Atef Abu Said. The book is a personal diary, recording each of the 51 days of the 2014 war in Gaza, called “Operation Protective Edge” by Israel. Said is a journalist but, more relevant to the diary, he is also a father, husband, son, brother and friend. Day after day, page after page, the tragedies mounted. By the end of the war, over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, 11,000 injured, and 17,000 homes were demolished.

To counter The Drone Eats with Me, I reread the last books of the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling. These books are also about war, telling the epic tale of the battle between the forces of the Dark Lord and those who stand for freedom and diversity and justice. Although Rowling takes something like 1,500 pages to tell the story, it is never boring. She doesn’t pretend that war is fun or glamorous, but it is certainly exciting, filled with opportunities for bravery and heroism. I read late into the night, unwilling to put the books down, inspired by the clever schemes, daring acts of resistance and breathtaking feats of self-sacrifice.

It was quite a contrast to The Drone Eats with Me. That war story was not just sad—it was monotonous. Day after day, page after page, Said and his family simply survive. He writes: “Everything becomes normal. The barbarity of it, the terror, the danger…You might die. Your children might die. Your whole extended family might die…The sound of explosions becomes the most normal thing in the world.”  Day after day, page after page—bombs and casualties and worry and tragedy became boring. Being sad and scared became boring. Being angry with a political system that allowed such tragedy became boring. I was never tempted to read “just one more chapter.” Instead, I had to resist the urge to abandon it altogether, insisting with myself that if Said could live through these days, I could at least read about them. And so, turning the pages became a spiritual discipline, an act of prayerful solidarity with people whose primary source of hope was simply that they happened to wake up that day and go to bed that night.

I’m sure there are other stories of this war that tell of heroes saving people from collapsed buildings, harrowing tales of delicate peace negotiations, thrilling military maneuvers, inspired speeches and brave activists standing up for justice and compassion. Perhaps those stories would have left me feeling brave and bold, inspired to take my place in history. But Said’s faithful, painful record left me with something perhaps more valuable, and more lasting: perspective. War is an everyday thing, as is survival. The work of peace must be likewise—steady and faithful and, perhaps more often than not, boring.

Blessed are the peacemakers, not because they will star in adventure stories, but because they will be called children of God. This, with God’s help, is our rightful place in history.

About the Author

Rhonda Waters

Rhonda Waters

The Rev. Rhonda Waters is incumbent of the Church of the Ascension, diocese of Ottawa. 
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Anglican Journal News, February 02, 2017

Discipleship in 4 easy steps

Posted on: January 30th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Over the next couple of weeks, we will hear several stories regarding the call of the first disciples. This past Sunday started this off with the calling of Andrew and Peter. Since then, the calling of Andrew has stuck with me. While the passage may be titled The Calling of the First Disciples, it seems to me that Andrew provides a wonderful lens through which we can view our own journey of discipleship. Instead of the impatient bravado of Peter or the deep insight of John, in Andrew, we see an example of what discipleship might look like in ordinary, everyday life. Andrew’s discipleship comes about in four steps.

The first step: inquiry.

After hearing John the Baptist declare, “Look, the Lamb of God,” Andrew and an unnamed disciple begin to follow Jesus. It is important to know that at this point, Andrew has a whole lot of questions. Andrew asks, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” This isn’t a question about Jesus’ address or the location of his bed; rather, the question means, “Can I talk to you further? Can I interview you? Can I investigate?”

It can be easy to think that we can only come to Jesus once we have everything figured out. We believe that when we have answered all our questions, solved all our problems, and jettisoned all seeds of doubt, then we will follow Jesus. But is that a realistic picture of the life of faith? Just like there is never a perfect time to get married, or a perfect time to have children, there is really never a time when doubts, struggles, and questions will be completely absent from our lives.

Andrew doesn’t have everything figured out, but he journeys with Jesus all the same. Jesus invites our questions and welcomes us to come and investigate him further. In fact, it was Andrew’s inquiries that brought him to Jesus in the first place. So instead of allowing our questions or doubts to keep us away, Jesus actually invites us to bring those things to him. “Come and see,” he responds to us all. Can we allow our questions to take us closer to Jesus?

The second step: spending time with Jesus.

Having been invited to come closer to Jesus, we read that Andrew and the unnamed disciple “went and saw where Jesus was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.” The 10th hour came, which was around 4:00, was the time when people began to retire for the evening. The implication here is that Andrew began to follow Jesus in the morning, spent the day with him, and might even have remained with him throughout the night. He spent a significant amount of time with Jesus.

How do you spend your day with Jesus? Do you see the hours of your life as being lived in his company? Is your life one of companionship with Jesus? Do you talk with Jesus, and also let Jesus talk with you? Sometimes, we get into this curious habit where we come to faith in Jesus, but then treat him like he isn’t there. It would be like ordering your food at a restaurant and then refusing to eat it: you know it’s there, but you refuse to engage. When Jesus invites us to “Come and see,” this is a gracious invitation to experience his presence. To be a disciple of Jesus is to be one who spends time with Jesus. There simply is no way around this fundamental fact.

The third step: commitment.

The time will come to all disciples when we need to make a declaration of our commitment to Jesus. The path of discipleship necessarily leads all us to the revelation that Jesus is the Lamb of God – the means of forgiveness, justice, peace. This is not something we think our way to. This is something revealed by God, in God’s own time. But, the challenge will come; “Who do you say I am?” Jesus asks all disciples. 

The fourth step: sharing the news.

When we spend time with Jesus, and come to the realisation that Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth, we recognise that this news has to be shared. Disciples are called to share Jesus’ presence, love, and grace with others. We see this time and again. The first thing that Andrew does is find his brother Simon. The first thing that Philip does is find Nathaniel. The first thing that the woman at the well does is run into the village declaring, “come and meet the one who told me about my life,” and the last thing that Jesus does before he ascends is to give the command, “Go and make disciples.”

We are more than happy to tell others about that great new restaurant, or the place with the biggest deals. And social media being what it is, we share even the most mundane parts of our day. Yet when it comes to that which defines the deepest part of who we are, and even frames all of life itself, we often remain silent. Why is this so? Why are we so shy to speak about the person who reframes both our earthly and eternal existence?

So where do you find yourself? What step are you on? Importantly, in all these steps, Jesus never turns to Andrew and declares he is not far enough along. Jesus accepts Andrew’s place and invites him to journey further. “Come and see,” Jesus says. This is an invitation to journey with Jesus, and a promise that in Jesus, we will find our life. That being said, although Jesus accepts us where we are, he does challenge us to move deeper. He stretches us and calls us in faith.

So ask yourself, “what would it look like for me to journey into the next step of discipleship?” What would it look like to live with Jesus more? Would you read the Gospels? Could you pray that Jesus reveals himself to you? If you are living with Jesus, what would it look like for you to be stretched to share him with a family member or a friend? Could you live with Jesus in a more intimate and intentional way? Is Jesus asking you to allow him to have a greater role in your life?

For each and every one of us, the path of discipleship may look a little different. Still, I believe Andrew’s journey has some relevance in our own. May Jesus bless you on whatever step you may be on, and the step you are journeying toward. Amen.

Kyle Norman

About Kyle Norman

I am a Priest in the Diocese of Calgary, serving the wonderful people of Holy Cross, Calgary. I watch reality television, I drink Starbucks coffee, and I read celebrity gossip columns. I am also a magician and often use magic tricks to teach the children at church the lessons of the Bible. I believe that God is present in the intricacy of our lives, and thus I believe that Pop Culture can provide intriguing lessons, examples, and challenges for our lives of faith. Connect with Kyle on

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The Community, An update from The Community, January 27, 2017

You take them in

Posted on: January 23rd, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

By Jeffrey Metcalfe on January, 18 2017

Photo: JP Wallet/Shutterstock


It was mid-afternoon when I got the call.  Picking up the phone, I was greeted by a friend from a local refugee welcoming centre. Immediately I could tell from the strain in her usually cheerful voice that something was wrong. It didn’t take long for her to explain what it was.The Red Cross had called the centre, looking for a place for a family of six refugees, who had just arrived in Canada, to stay for the night. Due to the lack of affordable housing in the city (and frankly, across most cities in Canada), those who are staying in the shelter system are unable to leave for more permanent housing. As a result, the intake lines to the shelters have become waiting lists, and new arrivals are forced to find other arrangements: park benches, backstreet alleyways, storefront entrances.

Then she made her pitch.

“We don’t have space for this family here. All our bedrooms are full and we already have people sleeping in our lobby and in our offices,” she said. “This is no longer just a need. It’s a desperate need. We need the church to act. We need ordinary people to act. If we don’t find someone to take in this family, they will be sleeping in a park—tonight. Do you know a place where they can stay?”

Having focused my academic life on studying Christian communities that welcome refugees, I should have expected that this request would come. I should have been prepared for it. In a sense, I had trained for this: having immersed myself in the stories of rescuers such as Magda Trocmé, who, when a Jewish refugee fleeing the Gestapo knocked at her door and asked to come in, replied, “Well, naturally, come in, come in.” I had pledged to myself that when the knock came at my door, like Trocmé, I would try to make welcoming the stranger in need natural.

I wish I were that faithful.

Instead, when the call to provide hospitality finally came, I was caught off guard. “I don’t have room right now,” I replied. After all, I thought to myself, I live in a small two-bedroom apartment with three other people (soon to be four) and a Siberian Husky. Still on the phone with my friend, I gazed out the window toward my neighbours’ houses. If anyone takes them in, I thought, it should be someone who lives in one of those big empty houses.

I told my friend that while I didn’t have room at the moment, I thought I knew some people who did. Working together, we were able to find a safe place for the family to spend a few nights until space opened at the refugee welcoming centre.

A few months later, a different friend called. He was coming in for a meeting and asked if he could stay the night. “Well, naturally,” I said, “Of course. We can just move the baby into our room, and you can sleep there.”

It was only over coffee the next day that I realized the irony.

To rearrange my space, to readjust my routine, to redefine the boundaries of my home to include a stranger seemed impossible with the space I had: I just didn’t have enough room. So why was it different when the person asking was a good friend? I began to think that the lack of room was not really in my home, so much as in the imagination of my heart.

It’s easy for us to stand in judgment of those with bigger houses, those with more resources, those who have a greater capacity to help people in need, and to redirect the calls for help we receive onto them. Certainly the more resources we possess, the more morally responsible we are to use those to address the needs of others. However, as I have come to realize, my ability to help is often greater than I might initially perceive it. My imagination is far too limited. While my two-bedroom apartment might be much smaller than my neighbours’ large houses, it’s certainly more comfortable than a park bench.

In the Gospel of Mark, after a long day of ministering to a large crowd, “the disciples came to [Jesus] and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send [the people] away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.’ But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat’ ” (Mark 6:35–37).

The disciples were caught off guard. They didn’t have the resources of the village. In their eyes, the little they had just wasn’t enough to help. Jesus responded by asking them to gather what they had anyway. He took it, blessed it, broke it, and redistributed it to any who had need. “And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men” (Mark 6:42–44).

Miracles do happen. In offering the little we have to God in service to others, Jesus takes it, blesses it, and uses it to break open the imagination of our hearts, enabling us to better meet the needs of those who are calling for our help.

As the national housing crisis and the global refugee crisis continue to worsen, I imagine Jesus’ words to us today are much the same to his disciples in the Gospel of Mark: “You take them in.”

The next time I receive that call, I pray that God gives me the courage to more faithfully respond: “Well, naturally, come in, come in.”

About the Author

Jeffrey Metcalfe

Jeffrey Metcalfe

Jeffrey Metcalfe is a priest from the diocese of Quebec and a doctoral student in theological studies at the University of Toronto.

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Anglican Journal News, January 23, 2017

A parable

Posted on: January 22nd, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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It’s not hard to imagine a small church in some small town in some distant corner of a remote diocese. The building probably couldn’t hold more than 40 people comfortably but it hasn’t been full in at least 2 generations. It’s probably made from the wood of trees that grew nearby or maybe brick that was hauled along the old railway decades ago. The thin windows are small and the inside is dim without the new compact fluorescent bulbs turned on. It’s quiet too. Quiet in the way only an empty church can be. It smells like a hundred years of quiet and prayer and Sunday morning. It’s a sacred place.

But the little town around it has changed. There are not that many young families in town anymore because the work is all farther north or farther south. It’s not that far a drive to the slightly bigger town down the road and the shopping is cheaper there. There’s a bigger church there too and they have a Sunday school.

The handful of Sunday regulars has decided that this little church’s time has passed. The decision is made and the paperwork is done. The bishop came out this morning and led a service of deconsecration. Everyone there said it was a beautiful service. It really was too. It was a holy goodbye.

So the church is quiet and empty now. Sometime in the next couple of days, a “for sale” sign will somehow appear and eventually, this little space will become something else. Maybe an art studio, or a concert venue, or an odd little home.

But today, it’s still quiet. Quiet, that is, except for the occasional sound of a rubber mallet on wood and the gentle sound of a softly applied crowbar. These are strange and foreign sounds here so it’s probably hard to imagine, but there’s a person moving around the altar. The bishop has come back this afternoon.

The bishop is not an imposing figure. She’s the sort of woman who’s stood behind you in line at the local Timmy’s. She knows the town and she knows the people. Her face is etched with lines of laughter and care from years of mothering those related, and unrelated, to her.

With great care, and the occasional grunt of exertion, she’s taking apart the altar. Not exactly taking it apart as much as taking parts off. The altar is like lots of others in lots of other places. It’s big and heavy and made of wood and anchored to the floor. It wouldn’t be worth moving and even if it were there’s no place to move it to.

But still, she works. She carefully lays rags under the curve of the crowbar to protect the wood and gently levers the corner of one of the front panels. There are three front panels and each one bears a carving of a cross, or a dove, or a tongue of flame, or Greek letters. She’s been at it for a while and she’s only now starting to make progress. It took her some time to figure out how the panels were attached. She’d even brought an electric saw but was relieved that she didn’t have to use it.

By the time the sun goes down she’ll have pulled those three panels off and will have bundled them up in the back of her car. She’ll say the appropriate goodbyes to the appropriate people and make her way back down the highway towards her cathedral. It’ll be almost a full day before she’s home.

But the panels from the altar won’t go with her. She knows what it cost that last faithful remnant to willingly close their church. She knows that they made the choice in the hope of something new happening. They hope that new thing will happen in this small town, or maybe in the town down the road. She knows they made a holy sacrifice in hope. So before she drives away she’ll leave one of those panels with each of the last families. She’ll make sure to present each panel as a sign of remembrance but also as a sign of promise. There might be more tears as she presents these signs to those families. There will definitely be hugs and an exchange of blessings.

But there may not be more tears. The time for tears may have passed.

About Trevor Freeman

Trevor Freeman serves the parish of St. Mary’s East Kelowna and is the Executive Archdeacon for the Diocese of Kootenay. He still has days where he looks around and can’t quite believe how far God has brought him. During downtime he can be found with a good book, a properly strong cup of tea, at the gym, or playing golf badly. And if he’s honest, binge watching Netflix.

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The Community, An update from The Community, January 20, 2017

The sweet song of Christian unity

Posted on: January 20th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

The sweet song of Christian unity

Posted By Zack Guiliano

18 January 2017

In your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung — Ignatius of Antioch

Our Lord and his apostles used many figures of speech to describe the Church. From our beloved St. Paul: “We are God’s fellow labourers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9). “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Cor. 12:27). Or Jesus’ words: “Fear not, little flock” (Luke 12:32a). “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:5a).

Many of us have admired a well-ordered cathedral, such as St. Paul’s, London, or All Saints, Nairobi. We recognize — almost unconsciously — the beauty of the human person, of a pastoral scene or vineyard. No wonder they make fitting images for the Church, the heavenly Jerusalem, a city “at unity with itself” (Ps. 122:3).

Our experience of the Church’s unity tends to fall short of these glorious figures. We see “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions” (see Gal. 5:19-21).

In recognition of this, Anglicans have turned to other images over the past 14 years: among them, “walking together in synodality,” “walking apart,” or even “walking at a distance.” This language proves useful, vividly illustrating different degrees or intensities of communion: some choose to be close; some go their own way; some wander onto the wrong path.

Through such images, we see how harmony, order, and unity are gifts received, but also unwrapped and used. A field must be cultivated, a building maintained, a vine pruned.

For this reason, I find myself drawn also to musical representations, as my opening quotation from the Church Father, Ignatius of Antioch, signalled. For harmony can be complex, dissonance may rise and fade. More to the point: music needs practice and discipline. A symphony tunes up, interprets the notes on the page, follows the conductor’s time; it learns the “perfect freedom” of scripted service.

(For some fruitful explorations of this dynamic, see Chapter 6 of IASCUFO’s report on the Anglican Communion’s Instruments of Communion, “Towards a Symphony of Instruments;” or, Rowan Williams, “Keeping Time. For the Three Choirs Festival,” in Open to Judgment: Sermons and Addresses.)

We need a renewed sense of the loving commitment and discipline required for Christian unity. Then we shall be “tuned” to God and one another; we will follow what is written and our conductor’s direction. To paraphrase Ignatius, we will make ourselves into a choir, listen for the Lord’s note, and sing sweetly to the Father through Jesus Christ (Letter to the Ephesians, 4:1-2).

During this week of prayer for Christian unity, then, let us pray: that God may draw our hearts into more perfect communion with him, with our Anglican brethren, with Christians throughout the world, and with all the created order.

May our love increase, until Jesus Christ is sung in our concord and in our unity. To him be praise, power, glory, and dominion, now and to the ages of ages.

Dr Zachary Guiliano is associate editor at The Living Church, the editor of Covenant, and an ordinand of the Diocese of Ely.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Wednesday 18 January 2017