Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

Do we ignore the women at the centre of Advent?

Posted on: November 25th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Paul Knowles on November 25, 2016

Photo: Renata Sedmakova/Shutterstock

Advent— a time for sober reflection. Or, for joyous celebration. A time when the church commemorates the role of women in the gospel story. Or, virtually ignores women, spending much more time with an Old Testament prophet and a strange desert visionary than with the “mother of God.”

Former United Church of Canada (UCC) moderator the Rev. Gary Paterson sums it up: “Advent…is a strange season in the life of the church.”

Is it a time of joy or a time of penance—or both? Is it possible that a church traditionally dominated by males has created a myopic tradition that largely ignores the female perspective? And are there reasons to suspect that the mainline church’s focus on Advent as distinct from Christmas may be a roadblock to evangelism?

In the beginning

By the sixth century, Christians were celebrating the anticipated coming of Christ. Other traditions followed—the association of each successive Sunday with hope, peace, joy and love and the odd development of the much-misused Advent Calendar, in the 19th century.

Church lectionaries feature four readings for each Sunday of Advent. This year’s readings include four segments from Isaiah, four Psalms, calls from Paul, James and Matthew to prepare for the second coming, two readings about John the Baptist, and the story of Joseph and the angel.

One alternative reading is suggested—the Magnificat, Mary’s Song (Luke 1:46–55), but this optional reading omits the first three words of the passage. Those words are, simply, “And Mary said.” The song is there—the female author is omitted.

Misogyny or mystery?

Does all of this represent an anti-female bias among those who created the lectionary? Opinions vary.

Paterson says, “I think John the Baptist is a helpful voice in Advent…but I only give him one Sunday despite what the Lectionary suggests. And Mary always gets a Sunday…And often Elizabeth gets one, too.”

United Church clergy have more wiggle room in ignoring lectionaries than some other mainline churches. Canon June Hough, rector of the Church of the Ascension (Anglican) in London, Ont., has no doubt there is a problem: “The women are supporting characters. Even at the temple, we have a song of Simeon, and Anna is secondary… A strong patriarchal spirit pervades most of how we interpret Scripture.”

But Canon Wendy Fletcher, principal at Renison College at the University of Waterloo, Ont., doesn’t see a problem. “Of course, women as the child-bearers in our world are at the centre of Advent’s meaning…The third Sunday of Advent, which focuses on Mary—her joy, her willingness to give everything for love—is an appropriate balance to Advent One’s call to turn around….to ‘repent.’ ”

But Bishop Linda Nichols of the Anglican diocese of Huron has some questions: “I think the lectionaries only need one Sunday on John the Baptist—I have not heard anyone explain the double Sunday emphasis.”

Nonetheless, she rejects the suggestion that male decision-makers have de-emphasized the role of women because of “male mystification” around the reality of pregnancy.

But could that be a possible explanation of the perhaps inordinate focus on men in what is essentially a story of a pregnant woman? Current UCC moderator the Rt. Rev. Jordan Cantwell takes a cautious position: “I suspect that women experience pregnancy and birth as mystery perhaps even more deeply than men do…Wherever pregnancy and birth are major themes, I think mystery and wonder are the only authentic responses we can have, regardless of our gender.

I do think the church is quite afraid of human bodies, and female bodies in particular. So we do tend to ignore or down play the very embodied experience of Mary and Elizabeth. That is a mistake. The incarnation is all about the incredible mystery of God taking on our human flesh. How can we begin to appreciate what that means if we don’t embrace the very physicality of it?”

Hough adds, “This is not Lent. A woman or man doesn’t celebrate only the moment the child is birthed—there is the heartbeat, watching it move, even with adoption, there is the waiting, getting a room ready…a sense of joy.”

The Rev. Nancy Knowles, of Thamesview United Church in Fullarton, Ont., says, “Men have perceived the roles of the women in the Advent/Christmas stories as diminished by comparison to the stories of the male characters. It’s actually rather humorous, especially when one considers that there would be no birth of John the Baptist, birth of Jesus, or even the harried innkeeper, without female characters present…Quite simply, what the female characters bring to the story is…life.”

Fr. Murray Watson, professor of theology, Huron University College in London, Ont., and a Roman Catholic priest,  takes exception to the idea that there might be a mistaken, male-dominated focus in Advent. “This represents a misrepresentation of the richness of what Advent means to the Christian church, and relies on stereotypes and caricatures of ‘male thinking’ that are, at best, reductionistic, partial and often incorrect. My own experience has been that excitement and anticipation of something significant on the horizon…is common to men and women equally.”

The Rev. Dawn Hutchings, from Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Newmarket, Ont., and creator of the blog,, is unequivocal: “I can’t help wondering why the creators of the Revised Common Lectionary…have failed to remember the stories and names of our foremothers? John the Baptist will strut across the stage again…The followers of the RCL will not hear the names of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, or Bathsheba…even Mary is only suggested as an optional replacement for the reading of the Psalm!”

Joy or penance?

Watson thinks that Advent is often a season of misunderstanding. “The official documents of my own Catholic church say that ‘Advent is…a period for devout and joyful expectation.’ “However, I think that this understanding has yet to trickle down to many parishioners, who continue to see Advent as a somewhat grim penitential season.”

Bishop Nichols points to a symbolic change: “Anglicans have shifted from using the colour purple to using royal blue, leaving purple for Lent.”

Fletcher insists, “The sentiment of doom and gloom has no place ever in the Christian worldview—we are creatures made in joy, held in joy and called home in joy. Period.”

Advent and evangelism

All of these hopeful and joyous observations considered, it’s probably important to remember that these are mainly “inside the church” comments—the colour of vestments, the lectionary readings, and so on.

But a question remains: if the birth of Jesus is the second-most-important story in the Christian canon (Nichols reminds us that “Christmas is meaningless without Easter”), is Advent a time for evangelism—and is the church succeeding at it?

Society begins to celebrate “Christmas” shortly after Halloween; meanwhile, churches are debating whether or not Christmas carols should be sung during Advent. Is there a disconnect between the church and society at large—and is this an opportunity lost?

Paterson suggests there are pros and cons: “We are out of step with the cultural activities all around us…and that’s both good and bad. Good, because it presents a counter-cultural voice to the building frenzy of consumerism…The invitation to focus on an inward journey that celebrates life (and yes, pregnancy), and peace and joy and hope and love feel so important. Whether we do that well is another question.”

Watson adds: “I think that the discipline of hopeful waiting is an important aspect of the Christian faith, and so I would be very hesitant for us to take our lead from a largely consumerist society.”

Cantwell agrees: “While it would be popular to jump on that bandwagon, it certainly would not be faithful.”

However, she is perfectly happy to sing Christmas carols during Advent: “I think folks want to sing Christmas carols during Advent, and why the heck not?”

Missing or meeting the mark?

So, is the church missing some key aspects of Advent—opportunities to celebrate the central role of women, to celebrate joy, to carry the gospel out into society?

According to these leaders from several mainline churches, the answer is yes…and no.

There is no general agreement about how well the church is doing at celebrating the women at the centre of the story, but there is entire agreement that they should be celebrated.

When it comes to a choice between somber reflection or joyful celebration, the consensus is, there should be both—but the emphasis should be on joy.

And is the church disconnected from society when it comes to commemorating Advent and Christmas? Again, yes, and no—and this is both good news and bad news. Good, in that the church should present a counter-cultural alternative; bad, in that our perhaps arcane practices may be a barrier to evangelism.

There is total agreement among these mainline church leaders—unlike many evangelical or fundamentalist churches—that Advent is a key part of the church year.

The Rev. Margaret Walker, of St. George’s Anglican Church in New Hamburg, Ont., wonders, “Perhaps the church has a responsibility to bring society back in line with the calendar rather than having agendas set by the marketing department and commercial interests. Christianity was, and should be, counter-cultural; just because our culture does it does not mean that we, Christians, have to do it as well.”


Paul Knowles is a writer, editor and lyricist who lives with his wife, the Rev. Nancy Knowles, in New Hamburg, Ont.


Anglican Journal News, November 25, 2016

Five lessons on how to be a priest and a Christian

Posted on: November 24th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Rhonda Waters on November, 23 2016

Photo: Halfpoint/Shutterstock

On November 20, I joined in the celebrations to say farewell and thank you to the dean of Montreal, Paul Kennington, as he returns to London. I worked with Paul for five fabulous years, first as curate and later as associate at Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal, and I learned an enormous amount from him about how to be a priest and how to be a Christian. Here are five of those lessons:

  1. It’s all about Jesus. We share pretty much every other aspect of our faith with other groups of people—God, Spirit, justice and peace, love and service, stewardship of creation, respect for the dignity of all people. These points of commonality are wonderful gifts, and understanding the subtle differences between traditions and philosophies leads to new depths of understanding. But it is also important to remember that there is one big difference, one thing that makes us Christian and not something else: we follow Jesus.
  2. Rejoice in your own piety. Don’t be shy about letting people know how you pray and what happens to you when you pray. Create liturgies and spaces and practices that feed your soul. The authenticity will allow other people to pray as well and, even more important, it will give them the desire and the permission to do what they need to do so that they can get closer to God.
  3. Ministry takes place on many time scales. We have plans and dreams for our communities. Some of those dreams will come to fruition in our presence and some of them will wait until we are long gone. Figuring out which is which—and then finding the patience to leave it in God’s hands—is a valuable skill.
  4. Ministry is like improv—you should always try to say, “Yes, and…” Affirming people’s passions is the best way to unleash their energy and welcome the Holy Spirit’s power into a community. Plus, it’s better for your own soul than constantly saying “no.”
  5. We go where we are needed. Priests don’t all do the same thing. Parishes need different priests at different times. God calls us to where we are needed and, in so doing, makes room for the person needed next to arrive. This is also true of lay ministry leaders within parishes. In fact, it’s true of ministries as well. Different parishes and different ministries offer us new opportunities to grow and the chance to rest already well-used skills. Change is part of God’s plan for our well-being as individuals and as churches.

So, five deceptively simple lessons, offered with thanks and love, to honour a wonderful priest, mentor and friend who will be sorely missed.


About the Author

Rhonda Waters

Rhonda Waters

The Rev. Rhonda Waters is incumbent of the Church of the Ascension, diocese of Ottawa. 
Anglican Journal News, November 24, 2016

A place of ‘sober second thought’

Posted on: November 17th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Marites N. Sison on November 16, 2016

Photo: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

(This editorial first appeared in the November 2016 issue of the Anglican Journal.) 

This month, the new members  of Council of General Synod  (CoGS)—who will help govern the church for the 2016–2019 triennium— meet for the first time.

Elected by their provincial caucuses at  last summer’s General Synod, a majority  of them are fresh faces—only about five of  the 27 (excluding seven officers of General Synod) have served the council in the previous triennium or in recent years.

This is an exciting development. The  infusion of new blood in any organization  is generally seen as a good thing, ripe with promise of alternative ideas and infectious energy. The arrival of new, creative thinkers/doers, for instance, can help shake things up and pave the way for meaningful, beneficial change. No matter how smoothly an organization has been running, there should always be room for growth.

It is equally valid, of course, to argue that having a fresh slate does not always yield positive returns. There are many factors to consider—among them, the willingness of the “newbies” to do their homework, in terms of learning about their role, the function of the organization they are serving, the issues it deals with and the processes in place for addressing these.

While a volunteer position, being a member of CoGS is nonetheless a privilege that carries a huge responsibility. CoGS governs the church between meetings of General Synod, and it is one of the places where important decisions about the life of the church are made, including its spiritual and financial health.

From day one, CoGS members will be given an orientation, but in the end, it will be up to each of them to make choices about how much they are willing to participate. One hopes they will remember that they have been elected not simply to sit through discussions or act as a rubber stamp when decisions need to be made.

Newbies (and it goes without saying, even veterans) must be willing to step up and offer ideas, seek clarification and yes, ask the hard questions and respectfully disagree when necessary about matters requiring their approval, no matter how perfunctory they may seem. Like Canada’s Senate, and General Synod, for that matter, CoGS must be a place of “sober second thought.”

It is not that the decisions they will be asked to make are questionable in and of themselves, but they will be more solid and have great integrity if they have passed the test of due diligence. Of course, one always has a reasonable expectation that a church behaves more morally and more ethically than most institutions. Historically, however, such has not always been the case with religious institutions, in Canada and around the world, and it is precisely for this reason that this church has chosen to be more open and democratic than most and to offer checks and balances.

One hopes that CoGS will uphold this ideal of transparency and accountability at all times. This extends to granting the Anglican Journal  unimpeded access and thinking twice about in-camera meetings.

As a Journal editorial written in 2002 noted succinctly, when Journal staff are asked to leave so that information can be received in secrecy, “it is the members of the church who are ejected; the parishioners, the people in the pew whose financial and moral support is sought at other times, are thus excluded.”

Transparency and accountability are particularly crucial at this time when the church is faced with divisiveness over the issue of same-sex marriage. Canadian Anglicans are looking at their church for clarity, honesty and for courageous leadership on this and many other critical issues of the day.


About the Author

Marites N. Sison

Marites N. Sison

Marites N. Sison is editor of the Anglican Journal.


Anglican Journal News, November 17, 2016

What is truth?

Posted on: November 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Wayne Holst on November, 15 2016

Image: DenisFilm/Shutterstock

“Truth? What is that?”—Pilate (John 18:38 New Jerusalem Bible).

“The lie is a contradiction of the word of God, which God has  spoken in Christ and upon which the creation is founded.”

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer (in an unfinished essay on truth-telling).


I am still reeling from the angry, divisive rhetoric of the recent American election. Of all the victims in that epic political fight, truth-telling seems to have suffered most.

With Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of Nazi Germany’s Christian martyrs,

I cry out in anguish: “What does it mean to tell the truth?” and

“How can we be more intentional in our own speaking of the truth?”

Here, for your reflection, are some discoveries resulting from my quest to answer Pilate’s frustrated and cynical retort during the trial of Jesus as recorded in John 18.

Truth-telling is a contextual exercise. We need to recognize that particular situations evoke different understandings of the truth. Truth-telling requires moral character, but also honest reflection on the setting in which it is spoken. Two people may observe the same phenomenon and yet testify to that event from two different perspectives. Both may be reporting truthfully.

Truth-telling centres on knowing what is real, as reality exists in God, and it takes considerable knowledge and experience to speak truthfully. Ultimate truth stands above all human attempts to know and express it.

Divine truth stands above human understanding. Without a grounding in what is real, or of God, there can be no commonly accepted truth.

Satan can misguide and confuse our understanding of truth. Satan can make a lie out of what is true and hold it hostage to the principle of self-contradiction. A lie repeated can appear to be true.

It is sometimes dangerous to express the truth; but that should not prevent us from attempting to do so. When we fail to speak the truth out of fear, we need to recognize that we are an accomplice to the lie.

With its own special confusions, the media can distort what we consider to be true into a falsehood. That can lead to a loss of respect between people in a relationship, a family or a society. More than ever, we need to be aware of both the blessing and the curse of modern media.

How can we be more intentional in our speaking of the truth? We need to know what causes, and entitles us, to speak. We need to grow in our understanding of the place out of which we speak. We must struggle to relate the truth we come to know exists in God to the context wherein we find ourselves.

* * *

My heart aches, and my mind is heavy with confusion. I need time—away from the post-election fray—to clarify my feelings and fears. I want to know what is true and to hope again. Through prayer, I will ask God for guidance.  Through discussion with people I trust, I will recreate a roadmap for the way ahead.

About the Author

Wayne Holst

 Wayne A. Holst was a Lutheran pastor (ELCIC) for 25 years. He taught religion and culture at the University of Calgary for a quarter century and co-ordinates adult spiritual development at St. David’s United Church, Calgary.


Anglican Journal News, November 15, 2016

Finding our hidden humanity

Posted on: November 10th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Mark MacDonald on November 07, 2016

Image: Larissa Shitkova/Shutterstock

God has placed much of our true and full humanity in each and every heart. But we only begin to find it there. God hides fragments of our true and full humanity in other places.

This is probably easiest to see in relationship to our family and friends. We are human without them, but not fully so. They make us more human. You can say that God has placed a fragment of your true and full humanity in the hearts of your loved ones.

But the Bible tells us there is more. We are not fully human by ourselves; we are not fully human just with our family and friends. God hides fragments of our humanity in other places, as well.

We are not fully human without God’s Creation. God has hidden part of our true nature there. Scripture tells us that God has placed fragments of our humanity in the poor and marginalized. We can even say that a fragment of our humanity is in our enemy. Without forgiveness of those who wrong us, we cannot receive the fullness of what we are; we cannot become the fullness of what God calls us to be.

Jesus united in himself the fragments of our lost humanity, in his life, in his death, in his resurrection. Now he places those fragments in  the sacraments and, in a sacramental way, in  creation and humanity, imploring us to find our true selves, not only in our own hearts, but in the lives of others.


About the Author

Mark MacDonald

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


Anglican Journal News, November 07, 2016

Entertaining angels unawares

Posted on: November 9th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Fred Hiltz on November 02, 2016

Many are the stories of parishes throughout our beloved church that have welcomed hundreds of refugees and helped them settle into a new life in Canada.

During a recent visit in Corner Brook (diocese of Western Newfoundland), Dean Baxter Park told me of how the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist congregation raised the funds to sponsor a Syrian family, and found and completely furnished a house. On a cold winter night in February, they welcomed the Almaidami family—mother, father and two young children. By trade, the father is a barber. With support from parishioners with good connections in the community, it was not long before he was able to begin work. He now has his driver’s licence and is doing very well. The whole family is learning English.

One of their teachers is Ruth. She is a very devoted member of the cathedral congregation and supportive of all its outreach ministries. When her spouse who had been in long-term care for several years died she was absolutely lost. And then, in the midst of her grief, this opportunity to teach English emerged. Ruth says she cannot say enough about the deep joy and enrichment that this involvement with the Almaidamis has brought her. She has come to love them all, and they her. Indeed, for the children she has become their grandmother in Canada.

With great delight, Baxter told me the very first word that the 14-month-old spoke was “Ruth.“That,” he said “is the God’s truth.” Ruth has given this family so much happiness, so much hope, so much new life. And perhaps unbeknownst to them, they have given all the same gifts to her. Their life is changed forever, and so is hers.

Here is a lovely story reminding us that in extending hospitality to strangers, we may well indeed be “entertaining angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). Insomuch as many would say Ruth has been an angel to the Almaidami family, they have all, in their own unique ways, been angels to her.

For the mystery and beauty of their giftedness one to another, may God be praised!

About the Author

Fred Hiltz

Fred Hiltz

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


Anglican Journal News, November 02, 2016

Seeing God in the world

Posted on: October 25th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Rhonda Waters on October, 25 2016

In spring 2017, a delegation of Anglican youth and adults will visit Guatemala “to witness the work of God with the Guatemalan people.” Photo: Tati Nova/Shutterstock

Do you remember the first time you hosted your parents or other significant elders around your table? Did you feel all grown up, proud to demonstrate your ability to take care of yourself and them? Or did it backfire and leave you feeling adrift, anxious and alone?

Or perhaps you remember the first time you took a loved one with you to see the place where you grew up, showing them favourite haunts and the sites of the various events that shaped you into who you are now. Did you feel more deeply understood, more profoundly known? Or did it backfire and leave you feeling exposed and vulnerable?

Inviting people into your home is a brave move, full of wonderful possibilities, but also with very real risks. Being invited into someone’s home, therefore, is a great privilege.

 This spring, the parish I serve, Church of the Ascension, Ottawa, is sending a delegation of youth and adults to Guatemala to witness the work of God with the Guatemalan people as they strive to achieve justice and peace for themselves and their country. It is not a mission trip; although we hope that our members will be helpful while they are there, we are under no illusions. There is nothing they can do that isn’t already being done by the people who live there…with one important exception: being good guests.

Being a good guest means more than just wiping your feet and not using all the hot water. It means being willing to receive more than you give. It means being quick to see the beauty and meaning in the lives around you, even if it looks different from what you’re used to. It means knowing that you are not in charge and that your ways do not hold sway. And it means taking the story of what you saw and what you learned away with you to share with those who haven’t had the privilege of being guests in that place and to shape how you live in your own home.

As our delegates prepare for this trip, they are being invited to carry with them Jesus’ promise that Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled: the poor have received good news; the prisoners and oppressed have been sent free; it is now the year of the Lord’s favour. Trusting this promise, they have been charged with three sacred tasks: first, of being the kind of guests that make their hosts feel understood and respected; second, of bearing witness to God’s work in that place; third, of bearing word back to encourage and enliven our commitment to God’s work in our own homes and throughout the world.

But these tasks are not only for those travelling across continents and cultures. Each one of us is to be a gracious guest whenever we have the opportunity—whether in our neighbour’s house or in another country. Each one of us has the capacity to train our eyes to see the signs of God at work in the world around us. Each one of us, as a follower of Jesus, is called to develop the ability to proclaim that good news when we see it.

About the Author

Rhonda Waters

Rhonda Waters

The Rev. Rhonda Waters is incumbent of the Church of the Ascension, diocese of Ottawa. 
Anglican Journal News, October 25, 2016

When preaching becomes a challenge

Posted on: October 23rd, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Mark MacDonald on October, 18 2016

Image: LineArtPilot/Shutterstock

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

I preached at the ordination of a dear friend recently. Feeling a bit too nervous to be comfortable, it made me wonder beyond the event at hand. After all these years, why is preaching not only hard, but seems to get harder? If it is something practised for so many years, shouldn’t it get easier over time? Do others feel this way?

My discomfort could be from a number of sources. The importance of the setting— as in my friend’s ordination—is often part of it, but, these days, I tend to feel nervous regardless of setting. Another concern is the expectations of those who hear: will I disappoint? Will they hear something that they will find helpful? Will my friends who ask me to preach be satisfied?

More and more, I am aware of the responsibility we have when we preach; how much today’s church and society need the application of God’s Word during these intensely challenging times. In light of this, I feel a tremendous weight of obligation and an equally challenging lack of capability. Without doubt, the grace of God in the Holy Spirit is, as Jesus insisted, our only hope when we proclaim the Good News. But today, my growing ache is the knowledge that I have often relied on my own strength, with a consequence of un- certain impact, quite often. Similarly, in the midst of undeserved help, there was impact that was gracefully and disproportionately good, despite my feeble efforts.

We need to pray for preachers, and preachers need to pray. This is a time when strong preaching is so needed, and a time when much of what we say seems to be falling short of the mark. Yes, this will probably always be true, but let us pray that in this day and time, God will grace us with the dedication and study needed to be the recipients and catalysts of an operation of grace in the mouths and hearts of the preachers and the ears and hearts of the listeners.


About the Author

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

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


Anglican Journal News, October 20, 2016

What autumn leaves teach us

Posted on: October 17th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Wayne Holst on October, 14 2016

Photo: 2009fotofriends/Shutterstock

Nature is a wonderful teacher and it offers many valuable spiritual lessons.

Here are a few personal insights that came to me after time spent traveling in Alberta and Ontario during the past few weeks.

The British speak of the changing seasonal appearance of leaves and shrubs as “autumn foliage” while we North Americans might refer to it as the “fall colours.”  For the majority of Canadians, this magnificent natural transformation provides a most intriguing experience that is rich in meaning.

In my earlier years I believed that frost was the cause of leaf coloration. Later, I discovered a different, scientific explanation.

For most of the growing season, green dominates and masks out the colours of other pigments nonetheless present in the leaf. Sunlight is very important for green leaf vitality, but in the fall, the sunlit process of photosynthesis declines. As daylight hours shorten and temperatures cool, the chlorophyll that keeps the leaves green for most of the growing season is gradually stopped and the hidden pigments of yellow, orange and red will gloriously appear. This colour change is especially true in hardwood species like hickory, ash, maple, yellow poplar, aspen and birch.

Modern science clarifies a natural process once vaguely explained by what we might now call myth. Today we are inclined to view scientific fact as true and myth as falsehood.  For me, however, a myth about frost can also be true and very helpful. Myth emerged from a pre-scientific age but it continues to describe natural phenomena in a subtle, poetic way. How important it is to hold both science and myth –  two expressions of truth –  in vital creative suspension!

Yellow is the dominant fall colour of Alberta, while multi-coloration is often  seen in Ontario and the eastern parts of Canada. Everywhere, the shades are beautiful, and vary depending on growing conditions and tree types.  This reminds me of the splendour to be found in human diversity. Heritage and context have made all of us appealing and we come to appreciate that more as we grow together, multiculturally, as a community of Canadian people.

Light plays strongly into natural transformation as aesthetic beauty. Art history helps us understand how painters have long portrayed the rich contrasts of light and shade with intriguing results. The Creator seems to have intended this from the beginning and shaped it into ways that make nature’s process so appealing.

We live in a vast country where both similarity and diversity comingle. All of us have the opportunity to better appreciate nature’s beauty close to home and some of us take opportunities to enjoy it in other parts of this enchanting land. The more we seek meaning in particular places, the more likely we are to find it elsewhere.

Comparisons between natural and human beauty are limitless. Reflect on this, contributing your own insights. Canadian autumn leaves have much to teach us spiritually if we are attuned to them. I discovered that again in my travels this fall.

About the Author

Wayne Holst

 Wayne A. Holst was a Lutheran pastor (ELCIC) for 25 years. He taught religion and culture at the University of Calgary for a quarter century and co-ordinates adult spiritual development at St. David’s United Church, Calgary.


Anglican Journal News, October 17, 2016

When will I ever learn?

Posted on: October 11th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Nissa Basbaum on October, 11 2016

Image: Rina_Ro/Shutterstock

When I was a student in search of a summer job, I was driven by a fellow student one spring from Ontario to Alberta, where I found employment in Calgary. That same student told me that if I found myself in Canmore, I should dine at a restaurant called Zig’s Junction. “It’s a dive on the outside, but you won’t regret going in,” he said.

The day did come when my camping buddy and I, on our way back from Banff, landed in Canmore around suppertime. Although it was pitch-black, Zig’s Junction wasn’t hard to find; in 1976, Calgary was not the large metropolis it now is, nor was Canmore a bedroom community to Calgary. There was pretty much one main street, and on that one street was Zig’s Junction.

“No chance I’m going in there,” my friend muttered, and I confess having a similar reaction to what frankly looked like a hole in the wall where no one in their right mind would even dare to drink a cup of coffee, let alone eat a full meal. Nonetheless, brave soul that I was, I responded, “We’ve got to at least go inside. I was warned to ignore how it looked from the street.”

Perhaps my camping partner was starved, perhaps she trusted me more than she should have—whatever it was, she agreed to walk through the door, and when she did she was as stunned as I was.

Inside were a number of tables laid with red-chequered cloths, each with a small vase of flowers. The room had the appearance of someone’s kitchen; it was cozy and homey. We were greeted warmly and asked if we were there for supper. I looked at my friend and it was clear that both of us had done a complete 180. Yes, we were definitely there for supper, and when we had finished eating, we were anything but disappointed. The food was delicious, classic comfort, right the way through to the apple pie and ice cream for dessert. The service was wonderful, and the ambience was warm and friendly. The person who chauffeured me to Alberta had been right.

Zig’s Junction was a superb place to have a meal, and it’s no surprise I have never forgotten the experience of being there. I make a point of remembering this each time I find myself judging yet another book by its cover.


About the Author

Nissa Basbaum

Nissa Basbaum

The Very Rev. Nissa Basbaum is dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Angels,  diocese of Kootenay.
Anglican Journal News, October 11, 2016