Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

Living beatitudes

Posted on: March 22nd, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Does anyone else feel that the world is spinning out of control? The inauguration of the US president, and the opening days of his rule, seems to have turned the world on its head—or perhaps it is better to say that what used to lie simmering beneath the surface of contemporary life has now broken into the daylight. Even in our own country, we have begun to see some of this. And so there has descended upon many of us a sense of unrest, anxiety, and fear. What will happen in the future? What horror will we face next? Will this ever stop?

I find that these are days where we need to hear the Beatitudes in their truest context. I am reminded that the Beatitudes are not simple, pie-in-the-sky statements of blissful morality. They are not naive descriptions of world-peace, or the plea for us all to ‘play-nice’. No. Jesus is teaching the disciples, and the crowd around him, about what it means to be an alternative community of people. Jesus calls us to live out the Kingdom of God, often in opposition to the messages and values of the world around us. The Beatitudes, and the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount for that matter, is perhaps Jesus’ most ‘political’ of teachings. Yet for me, the power in this lies in the fact these politically, socially charged statements are radical precisely because Jesus doesn’t issue a diatribe on politics and social ethic. Rather, he calls people the reality of God’s presence, and the blessing of God that surrounds them.

Think about who Jesus is speaking to. These are the down and out. They are the people who have been waiting, longing, praying, and crying out for a touch of God’s hand in their lives. These are the people that have been on the wrong side of power. But instead of stating how wonderful it would be if everyone would just help one another, Jesus points them to a deeper reality than the ‘alternative truths’ of the Roman Empire and the powerful elite. Jesus reminds them, and us, that the blessing of God—the activity, favour, and power of the one who created all things—is met precisely in their questions and their fears.

In this way Jesus calls them to a better kingdom. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he says. Yet peace is not found in simply becoming the big kid on the block. Replacing one tyrannical ruler with our own tyrannical rule does not make for peace: it just means we are in control. And this way of life is as much steeped in the rhetoric of power and dominance as the script that tells others to build a wall and kick the foreigners out.

Jesus calls us to stand against the ethic of power, but not in violence or usurpation. The Kingdom of God is not a better kingdom because it is bigger or more powerful. It is better because it is a kingdom of self-sacrificial love. The call to mercy is the willingness to step outside of the cycle of violence and hatred—to be the one who will extend the hand of peace and forgiveness. Later in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “You have heard it said ‘love your neighbour, hate your enemies—but I say ‘love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

Living in the Kingdom of God calls us to be a people of hope. We are asked to believe that we ‘will see God’ for no other reason than Jesus has promised it to be so. We are to have the hope that, despite the ‘alternative facts’ promoted by those in power, God actually is in control of this crazy world of ours: God will bring healing, peace, justice and righteousness to the earth. The community of people that Jesus inaugurates on the mountain is a community of people who are so filled with hope that they choose to live their lives as if the Kingdom of God was a full reality around them.

Can we be this community? Can we be a community, not of critique but of compassion—and by doing so allow our compassion to provide the necessary critique to the scripts of denial in this world of ours? Can we let the love of Jesus so fill our hearts that we turn our cheeks and go extra miles as an expression of God’s love for all people, even those  who use power to dominate and oppress? This is not easy, which is probably why Jesus concludes the Beatitudes by speaking to persecution and rejection. But we aren’t in the Kingdom of God for ease, or clout, or to push through our manifest destinies. We are in the Kingdom of God because the radical love and peace of Jesus is the only thing that can stem the sin of hate and pride in us, and in each other.

This is what it means to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This is what it means to be a people of love and blessing, a people who live in, and live out, the Kingdom of God.

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

The Community, An update from The Community, February 03, 2017

Needles, 911, and a wake-up call

Posted on: March 22nd, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Last Wednesday night, our evening worship was brought to a grinding halt by a medical emergency, and I had a powerful encounter with Jesus—although I didn’t know it at the time.

Advent Café is the name for our evening midweek service. We call it that because we understand that the Advent call to “wake up!” and to watch expectantly for the coming of our Lord carries through the whole year and into every part of our lives. Advent Café is held in the Lounge of our church and it operates the same night as Out of the Cold, which is hosted in the gymnasium just below the Lounge. Although some of our regular Sunday attendees come out for Advent Café too, there are also—as we had hoped—people who find that the timing, the location and the format of this service allows them a way into church that Sunday morning hasn’t, for whatever reason, afforded. Numerous Out of the Cold guests have become a regular part of Advent Café. They arrive for the hot meal downstairs and then make their way to the Lounge for worship. We miss them when they’re not with us.

We were two songs into worship when one of our Advent Café attendees, Petra, became distressed. At first, she was having a coughing fit. Our Greeter for the evening quietly fetched a bottle of water from the fridge and we continued on with the service. Business as usual, however, was quickly no longer an option. When it appeared that she was having difficulty breathing and coughing was turning into great heaving panicked gasps for air, the music stopped and we called 911.

It turns out that someone had lit a cigarette in the hallway right outside the door of the Lounge and Petra was having a bad reaction to the tobacco smoke. Indeed, I could smell the smoke filtering in. I got one of our parishioners, Tom, to come with me, and we went out to ask the smoker to stop. The man that we found outside the door was not only smoking but had also created for himself a little drug den. He was sprawled on the floor with the offending cigarette in his mouth, and scattered all around him were drugs and needles. I asked him to put out his cigarette, and he ignored me—unable or unwilling to hear. I explained the situation and reached over to take the cigarette out of his fingers, assuming that he was too inebriated to be able to respond himself. He became angry and tried to slap me away, but his reflexes were heavy and uncoordinated. It was clear that if either Tom or I tried to push him on this, he was prepared to lash out.

I was at a loss. Petra was still gasping for air inside. The cigarette was still burning. The paramedics were on their way, and this man had the hallway entirely blocked and showed at least the potential of being dangerous. Ryan came out into the hallway from the service just then. Ryan is part of our Advent Café congregation. He also regularly attends Out of the Cold and St. George’s Breakfast Program. I watched with awe as Ryan, with calm expertise, reached through the haze of this gentleman’s druged stupor, helped him to extinguish his cigarette, gather up, and he gently walked him down the stairs. Shortly afterwards, six paramedics arrived and began the rather lengthy process of calming down Petra’s breathing. We eventually resumed worship. Our prayers were informed by the needs we had witnessed that night and with gratitude for the skill and compassion of the paramedics who responded to our call for help.

The next morning, I arrived at the church just as Ryan was coming out of the morning’s Breakfast Program. “Thank you,” I enthused. “You were amazing. You were able to talk to that man when nobody else could. You were so calm and kind and understanding. You really diffused a difficult situation.”

“Yeah,” he sighed in response. “I just felt so bad after.”

I looked at him in surprise and he went on: “I should have invited that guy into our service. I was so concerned about getting him out of the way, and I didn’t even think that maybe what he really needed was to join us.”

“Oh,” I said with surprise. “I didn’t think of that.”

“I know, right?” he said sadly. “I mean, that’s what the church is here for.”

I left Ryan and went into my office, shut the door and quietly cried. They could have been tears of regret and guilt for having missed the opportunity the night before to also see a fellow brother and to invite him into our community rather than merely packing him up and getting him out of the way. But instead, my tears were shed with gladness. That’s what the church is here for. I am glad to be part of an identity like that. I am glad for Ryan to understand something more fully than I do and to share that knowledge with me. I am glad that this Advent promise of God’s ongoing presence and activity in our lives is true. I am glad to be startled into a new wakefulness by the voice of my Lord.

About Martha Tatarnic

The Reverend Martha Tatarnic serves as the rector of St. George’s Anglican Church in St. Catharines. Previously, she has served in congregations in Orillia and Oakville. Her focus in congregational leadership has been in empowering justice initiatives and outreach in the small church, starting a new service, the possibilities and potentials of Anglican-Lutheran partnership, and forming disciples through the power of music. As a young mother navigating family life through the continually changing waters of modern-day life, she is passionate about connecting the dots between faith – worship – Scripture, and exploring the concerns, joys, questions, stresses, worries, celebrations, of Right Here, Right Now.

The Community, An update from The Community, February 24, 2017

Ashes for atrocities

Posted on: March 10th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Fred Hiltz on March, 06 2017

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

Consider this statistic: 45 million people worldwide are captive in modern-day slavery. Two million of them are children.

Consider this fact: Canada is known as a source, transit and destination country for trafficking people for the billion-dollar global sex trade and for other forms of exploitative labour. Poor urban Canadian children and female teens, especially young Indigenous women, are particularly vulnerable.

Consider this great truth: “Human beings are not for sale.” That’s how our Lutheran brothers and sisters grab our attention in addressing human trafficking.

The theme of the 2016  Canadian Lutheran-Anglican Youth gathering helped bring attention to human trafficking. Image:

In responding to a call from the Anglican Consultative Council to develop strategies—local, regional and global—to rid the world of this evil, our church is committed to partnering with other churches, other faith-based organizations, civil society and government. This Communion-wide call is a powerful reminder to me that the season of Lent is not just about me and God and resetting that relationship. It is also about resetting our relationships within the human family in accord with our baptismal vow to “respect the dignity of every human being and to strive for justice and peace among all people.”

On that Wednesday when ashes are smeared on my forehead, I am mindful, more than ever, of our need to confess the sin of turning our eyes from those who suffer in modern-day slavery and from their oppressors.

The Litany for Penitence puts it this way, “Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty” (Book of Alternative Services,  p. 284).

More than ever, I am mindful of our need to take action in addressing this atrocity. The gospel compels us.

About the Author

Fred Hiltz

Fred Hiltz

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


Anglican Journal News, March 06, 2017

The liberating power of the Good News

Posted on: March 8th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Mark MacDonald on March 06, 2017

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

In the man from Galilee, God becomes the exploited, inferior, impure, enslaved human being—not to approve of this condition and just make us feel good because we are crushed but to lead us out of this destructive spiral of evil”—Virgilio Elizondo, A God of Incredible Surprises: Jesus of Galilee.

As God becomes human in Jesus of Galilee, this saving event, its power and example, is aimed at a salvation that is more than just forgiveness and more than just a promise of a better life in the future. The scope of our new life is so much more than mere comfort. It is a pathway to a life of freedom from the forces of this world that condemn and oppress.

The Good News we proclaim announces and enacts a liberation from the demons that haunt and hunt our souls: suicide, addictions, war and poverty. Its scope is both personal and communal; it promises help and hope in an individual way and in a community way. Those who follow the Good News pathway are taking the first steps toward breaking off the chains of despair.

For those who have given up on life, there is the call to hope. Joining with those who have hope, there is the call to help—to participate in the forces unleashed by the death and resurrection of Jesus, forces that confront, confound and condemn those things that harm and destroy life. If you have heard the call, you are part of the movement to life.

About the Author

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

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


Anglican Journal News, March o6, 2017

Honest Lent

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

By Rhonda Waters on February, 28 2017

Of the many distressing developments in the civil life of our world, the rise of “alternative facts” is one of the most upsetting. It is not, however, as recent a phenomenon as we might think. Indeed, for as long as we have been human, we have found the temptation to remake reality in our own interests very difficult to resist. This particular weakness manifests itself as outright falsehoods, as strategic partial truths, as propaganda, as one-sided histories, as self-serving or self-soothing stories. Whatever the form and whatever the situation, however, the motivation is the same: we lie to avoid the consequences of the truth.

As followers of Jesus, we know better. We know that the consequence of truth is freedom; that God already knows the truth, anyway; that reality does not truly bend to our desires, for we are not God.

As fallible human beings, however, we still fall into temptation. So every year, but perhaps especially this year, we give thanks for Lent because Lent is, at root, a season of unwavering honesty in the face of some uncomfortable truths.

We begin with the imposition of ashes, bearing on our foreheads the first truth of our existence: we are dust and to dust we shall return. This is a hard truth, but a good one to begin with, nonetheless. It insists we acknowledge that our lives are a miracle we cannot even begin to understand. It insists that we acknowledge that we are not immortal; not infallible; not divine. It insists that we acknowledge that we are, each one of us, equally human and beloved in the eyes of God.

Once confronted with this truth, we can undertake the work of self-reflection that makes for a truly holy Lent. We acknowledge our sins—the myriad of ways in which we, as individuals and as communities, fail to love God and our neighbour. We acknowledge the many ways in which we allow ourselves to be distracted, and we take on disciplines of fasting and prayer and generosity in order to realign our hearts and minds and bodies with God’s will. We acknowledge our fear that we have only ourselves to rely on—only our power to manipulate reality and hide from what we know to be true: our desire for a holy life of love and justice and peace is beyond our reach alone. We need God’s steadfast love and forgiveness in the face of our weakness.

And when the work of Lent is done (for this year, at least) and we come before God in penitence and faith and hope—then we are ready to receive the truth that defeats all falsehood, revealed in Jesus’ betrayal, death and astonishing resurrection. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.

So this Lent, let us be diligent in naming the lies that threaten the well-being of our souls and our families and our churches and our nations. Let us be unwavering in our honesty, even when it is uncomfortable or seems counter to our interests. Let us be steady in our focus on God’s will for us and for all creation. Let us remember that the truth will set us free.

About the Author

Rhonda Waters

The Rev. Rhonda Waters is incumbent of the Church of the Ascension, diocese of Ottawa.


Anglican Journal News, March 01, 2017

Your money and your life

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

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.


Anglican Journal News, February 23, 2017

How do we act like a church?

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

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.


Anglican Journal News, February 24, 2017

Anna, the evangelist

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

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. 


Anglican Journal News, February 14, 2017

But if the salt

Posted on: February 11th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

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.


Anglican Journal News, February 10, 2017

The indelible faith of the ‘garbage people’

Posted on: February 9th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

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


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