Saturday, 28 November 2015

Getting Ready

Today marked what will be the last day in the year of the church calendar, so tomorrow is New Years Day in the church, otherwise known as Advent One -- The Sunday of Hope.  For a number of years now Advent has been launched with numerous volunteers as we plan and execute a family day.  Basically a fun morning with singing, crafts, games and cookie decorating.

This year we did precisely the same.  But one thing never ceases to amaze and that is the joy and enthusiasm of the children that come to the event and join in singing songs like the Lovely little ladybug, Up Down Song, The magic Words, Hugs and on and on we could go.  The more actions the better!  The enthusiasm is infectious and adults volunteering for the event can not help but join in the fun of song, crafting and cookie decorating.

It marks a significant gift in ministry to be able to share in these times and while there were many thanks today for having organized the day I must confess that I received far more joy and happiness from participating than ever seems to go in the planning.  Memories are created that bring smiles years later as well as in the immediacy and I still chuckle when I think about some of the "works of art" that I have praised through the years and have seen proudly worn for display.

The first Sunday of Advent with the theme of Hope shines through in such an event as we shared together today in the Congregations of St. Paul, the Middle Church and St. Andrew's on the Red.  There was laughter, teasing, joy and most of all hope that there is still good in the world, enjoyment to be shared together.  Young or Old or Somewhere in between Hope for a new beginning and enthusiasm to receive the Christ Child into our midst once again was evidenced today.   We created more memories in a hopeful and joy filled celebration today.And as we prepare ourselves, our homes and communities for  Christmas we are called to be mindful that the preparations are about receiving the Christ Child into our midst again. Have a hope filled Advent as you prepare!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Paths, Bending and Colours!

This was a quote that I noticed from a friend on face book as I trolled the news feed this morning.  Several pictures were included of a few obstacles that were encountered along the way that day!  How many of us wish for a life with no obstacles, an easy path to travel and pointless days?  Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, life is filled with obstacles and hardships that bend us, shape us and help form our characters.  We can choose in those moments to remain in that space and become bitter and broken or we can take the opportunity to turn it into a learning curve, an opportunity to have something good come from the experience.

I know that this sounds optimistic.  And it absolutely is!  The hope is that once the obstacle has been faced we can come through the other side stronger but in the moment when everything is fresh and an open wound then we have to vent, grieve, seek counselling what ever it takes to be able to lead a healthy life again.  It is then that we are able to look back and see how far we have come and look at the road that was traveled and the obstacles that have been overcome.

I often think of the story that Bishop Mark Genge told a group of students at Mountain Field High School in Forteau, Labrador in the early 1990's.  A man was out walking and he heard a click, click, clicking noise with much regularity and at varying intervals.  It was a curious noise and he decided to investigate.  So he stepped off the path that he was on and went through some fields and after much searching he found the source.  It was the cocoon of the caterpillar and it was working to emerge as a butterfly.  The man was fascinated and stayed to watch how the butterfly would manage.  After some time the butterfly was successful and he saw a beautiful vibrantly coloured butterfly flutter out  from the cocoon.  He noticed that there were a lot of other cocoons there as well but they were seemingly not ready to be transformed just yet.  So the next day the man returned to the same spot and sure enough he heard the same noise again.  He headed directly to the spot where all the cocoons were.  This time he thought I will help the butterfly so that it doesn't have to struggle so much and work so hard.  Gently the man began to help the butterfly and in no time at all it was free, the man was most unimpressed as a plain brown, somewhat ugly butterfly emerged that seemed not to be able to fly well and just sat there.  He could not understand what happened or why he did not receive a beautiful vibrant coloured butterfly.  What he had not realized was that by helping the butterfly it did not have to struggle to emerge, to find life and freedom from the cocoon.  The vibrant coloured butterflies are those that face the struggles, slowly and gradually work them through  and emerge stronger.  It is the struggle to emerge that gave the butterfly its colour.

Bishop Genge reminded us that the struggles of life color us, transform us and make us into stronger people with fabulous vibrant colours that make us the unique people that we are.  And while there are days when we will wish for an easier road to travel, to have the obstacles removed, and a smooth path before us we are also reminded that path will probably lead to nowhere.

So as difficult as those obstacles are to face, and as horrible as some roads are to travel these are the journeys that give us our colours shape our characters and add whole new dimensions to our personalities and through it we will be bent, challenged, face dark difficult days....but we will not be broken we will be more colourful and beautiful!

Monday, 9 November 2015


The meditation group today listened to a talk by Rowan Williams (the former Archbishop of Canterbury) on "Leaving."  And we had a short discussion on the talk and what was said.  Leaving or Fleeing something can be  those things that are not essential but draw us in anyway.  It put a new perspective on leaving.

I suspect the title had more than a few people looking and saying leaving...where is she going now?  It has different tones when a clergy person writes as a title -- Leaving.  For some it give a sense of fear and uncertainty and for others joy and relief!  But leaving has a much larger connotation as the talk today clearly indicated,  It is leaving behind or fleeing from the things that are really unnecessary but that we seem to think that we can not do without.  Imagine even one day with out your computer, email connections or smartphone ... and the task of leaving can even on that simple note seem impossible to accomplish.

Today was a timely reminder in a schedule that seems to get busier and busier that going to the meditation group means I leave for a very short while and enter into a quiet space away from everything with a small but lovely group of people.  It was a timely reminder that sometimes it is necessary to leave and to find the essence of self away from the worries and concerns of world.  One statement that made the group laugh was when the statement was made that monks should flee women and bishops!

So it made the whole group think what do we need to leave?  What do we need to flee?  Do we need to go to something different?  Personally I needed to flee to the quiet and the solitude that this group offers, to leave the busy schedule and various commitments behind and in so doing to just present in the quiet, to find solitude in the holy and refreshment to go back to the schedule ready to face its many challenges and demands.

What do you need to leave?