Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas 2012 Singing a different tune?

Some will no doubt disagree, or perhaps you have never of it all, but I think the Pink Floyd album “Dark Side of the Moon” is one of the best of its kind.  One of its most arresting tracks, and which shares the album title, contains these very lingering lyrics, “And if the band you’re playing in starts playing different tunes, I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”  It is particularly at this time of year that I find myself recalling that line.  These last days before Christmas in Advent are a time of year that I feel as if I am singing a different tune than the rest of the world.

Here we are as Christians preparing for the coming of the Christ child and the rest of the world has, for quite a time, been ready to go.  For months now we have been well surrounded by Christmas (a.k.a  “holiday”) opportunities to consume, even on our own laptop.  Yet, of late we have been singing a different tune while preparing for the birth of the Christ child. 

We are bid by our Christian tradition to open our lives to the transforming reality of a soon to be born infant.  As with any other preparations for a new birth there are practical questions which follow: Is everything in order? How will things change? Where will the child reside?

 For Christians similar questions mark this time: Where will God reside in me?  Is there room in my heart for new life? Am I prepared for that new life about to be born?  These are our soul-searching questions and they can be as challenging as those that face any expectant Mom or Dad.  While the rest of the world’s jingles call us to indulge the arresting Advent melodies speak expectantly of the birth of God with us.
Surprise is often the reaction to my response as someone asks me if I have done my Christmas shopping, “Of course not!”  Being a card carrying “Xmas” curmudgeon I have no other choice, I much too busy struggling to earnestly beckon God to fully impregnate my heart with God’s love.  And that really is what Advent should have been about: Making ourselves pregnant with God’s love; allowing the love of God to grow within us, like an innocent child whose presence demands our love as a matter of human response.
 As we prepare for this birth,  a realization catches us that new life can happen even through the sometimes laborious nature of living.  Sometimes through the arresting pain and struggle of being alive, the groaning and wrenching grip of life’s darkest secrets come to us as we look carefully at how broken we can be. 
But as we direct our help laden pleas to God this new love about to be born beckons us.  The ardent and honest inward looking process of Advent has hopefully broken through the determined impediments of our alienation from God and compellingly the child’s new life calling us is growing more and more audible.  Our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength are awakened once again to the wonder that a child can bring to our browbeaten lives - love is made flesh! 
So, as these last days draw near to Jesus’ birth let’s sing out that God is coming to us.  And so join another chorus of voices which through time has sounded a counterpoint to the world’s choruses.  Let’s carry a different tune and sing joyously of God coming to us instead of the frenetic Xmas season that has already been with us for months now. 
As we sing a compelling tune to prepare for the coming of Jesus, I wish you a joyous Christmas that I hope will be filled with the ever-new life of Emmanuel – God’s love made flesh within us!  In the ongoing darkened days and nights of this time of year our Saviour’s melody will be the welcomed bright side of God’s winter moon!



Friday, December 14, 2012

Please join us in this third Sunday of Advent for our Parish Potluck immediately following the 10:00 a.m. service. 

Everyone is invited to bring a dish to share!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Way to Accessibility

St. Barnabas reached another milestone on the road to accessibility last Sunday at a Special Vestry Meeting (September 23rd, 2012).  A motion introduced by our Parish Council to purchase architectural drawings was passed with a vote of 75% in favour.  What preceded the vote was, in my opinion, a frank and fruitful discussion about differing opinions on the scope of the project, the needs of our parish, and shared hopes that might be met with the completion of our Building to Grow the Church project of accessibility.
As with most things worth doing the growing pains involved in the process of dialogue were evident.  There were those present who were not in favour of proceeding with the scope of the project as proposed by the building team.  An amendment to the original motion, which would have put a hold on purchasing drawings until the scope of the project was revisited, was defeated.  As the “moderator” of the meeting I cannot speak with objectivity as to the success of our attempts to allow everyone’s voice to be heard, but that was certainly the intent. 
From my perspective the aim of introducing more transparency to the process was as important, if not more so, that the voting results.  We, as a parish, must be directly aware of both sides of the argument in situations such as this.  We must treat them with equal respect.  We must accord their proponents with utmost deference thereby creating the possibility that not just one dimension of accessibility will be achieved – the physical dimension.
While that is, in and of it self, a significant goal, the manner in which we negotiate the differences of opinions and opposing views which always exist in undertakings such as this will witness just as plainly to whether or not we will have achieved real accessibility across all barriers: physical and emotional.  We will not be able to make the claim of being accessible if we close each other off.  It is well and good to desire an accessible building. But in the long run it will be very counterproductive if we do not make every effort to create a space to air our opinions reverently along the way.
There are some on both sides of the vote who are not satisfied with the results.  And we should respect that reality in the manner in which we proceed.  Especially as we honour the merit of others’ arguments or the way someone else feels about this project.  These MUST be appreciated, heard and, if compelled by the force of reason, adopted.
I do not think I exaggerate when I say that we live in an age of polarity: A time when levels of public discourse have fallen to the extent that our culture is very comfortable embracing such things as personality assassination as an acceptable means of winning an argument.  This did not occur at our meeting and it is NOT our way.  We are called to live by a standard which will not allow such things, and our practices should not be hesitant in steering away from such behaviours. 
My joy on Sunday lay in the manner in which we achieved things.  I am immensely proud of the way we treated each other at last Sunday’s Special Vestry.  As a long time musician I am reminded that “practice makes perfect.”  I trust that as we become more practiced at such things we will be able to abandon the notion of winning and losing votes and prayerfully see such tests of the bonds of our affection as grace filled opportunities to grow into the fullness of our calling to be the Body of Christ. 
There will be other moments of contention in the future of this project, of that I am quite certain.  However, I hope that each such moment will afford us the opportunity to learn that as important as our Building to Grow the Church project may, or may not be; it will be little to us if we are not accessible to each other as a place of God’s love made flesh, along the way. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Our Mission Statement!

In my opinion our Parish Council rightly decided that the discussion around St. Barnabas’ Mission Statement should continue.  At first I was rather disappointed, not just that we are yet without a Mission Statement, but that it would involve more work.  But as I listened to voices around the table speak with insightful wisdom I was very moved; moved because to a voice the search for the best thing to do for the life of our church was a top priority. 
Lest you accuse me of overstating the obvious, isn’t council always supposed to do that? Indeed, it seemed to me that members were truly engaged in finding the best way to gather people’s views about the matter.  We had come up with a good start at our Parish Council Retreat last autumn, we had “tried it in” on at our last Vestry meeting, we had solicited emails and spoken to many individuals but we all felt, that this was just not good enough.  We need to consider the manner in which we self describe (the gist of a mission statement) in as broad a context in our parish as we can, especially in a face to face meeting.
I was very encouraged by that little detail. 
Encouraged because in our time of social media and electronic communications of all sorts the notion of a face to face meeting or two to openly share how we think of ourselves as a church is a very cool idea.  For one thing the fine subtleties of body language, inflection, and manners of speech which help fill in the unknowns of the written word – and I am thinking emails here – are sadly lost by almost all of our convenient forms of communicating.  It IS rather inconvenient to have to spend valuable time listening to others express themselves at times in less than coherent arguments.  But my experience has taught me that even these moments present us with a golden opportunity to witness the Spirit alive in our midst, if we are attentive. 
We cannot undervalue the importance of listening to others.  I am convinced that good listeners should added to the world’s endangered species.  It is good to be able to express ones self but expressing ourselves is only half the project – listening being the place where ideas find solid ground, or not!  And I am very proud of both the talking and the listening which went on at our last Parish Council meeting. 
Another issue which arose was the matter of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the construction of our church building.  There are at least a few reasonable dates from which to choose: St. Barnabas’ Holy Day, June 11th ; the date the cornerstone was laid in the fall of 1962, the date when the church was consecrated in January of 1963, or the date when the church building was actually finished (technically it never was!).  Council decided to choose none of the above!
In fact, Parish Council decided that we form a 50th Anniversary Committee with the hope that a celebration marking both the beginning of the first church building and the renovations for which we are fundraising might be tied together.  We saw it as an appropriate opportunity to organically join both the original initiative to build, and our present hope to build upon that first impetus.  There is a good possibility that construction might begin next year and what a wonderful way to mark that by breaking ground on or near St. Barnabas’ Feast Day in June of 2013 – while I suppose we did choose one of the few mentioned above the final suggestion will come from the Anniversary Committee. 
While that final decision about how best to celebrate the church’s 50th is yet to come I think the idea of linking the two events is a propitious one.  It does two things which must always be linked in a Christian community; as we look to the future we are mindful from whence we have come. 


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pentecost 2012

The grand Season of Pentecost is upon us and I wonder about the mixed messages Christians encounter at this time of year. 
On the one hand Pentecost is a time when the church joyously celebrates the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.  Having descended upon the first disciples in the form of tongues of fire, they, and those around them, were filled with the Holy Spirit and literally felt God’s life giving breath blowing among them.  In our time it is an occasion of celebration as we also remember what some refer to as the Church’s birthday at Pentecost.
On the other hand, it is a time when most of us begin to slow down and revel in the slower rhythms of summer.  It is a special time to embrace the longer and languid days, and unlike our agrarian based predecessors, a time to re-create with time off as a part of our personal landscape.  Church life takes on a much more relaxed approach. 
For me the ambiguity lies in the notion that the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost seems to have energized and emboldened the early church.  There is a sense that their hearts were lit with the flame of Pentecost and the gift of enthusiasm[1] which compelled so many to speak in tongues, hundreds to be baptized, and wonders and signs to be accomplished by the apostles.  Indeed, in Peter’s case he was gifted to preach with such faith and wisdom that his words live on to this day. So, the first “Season of Pentecost” began the spread of the early church in places far removed from Jerusalem and that in a very short period of time, all of which required a lot of energy. 
But in our day Pentecost begins as we anticipate a “down” time for the church: a reduction of services in many parishes, a decrease in the office hours, a significant dip in attendance and financial contributions, and for a lot of parish clergy holiday time.  This is where I see the “disconnect.”  I am not lamenting this; I merely think that the ambiguity arises only if we equate Pentecost solely with the emerging energy of the early church.  What we must also consider is the content and consequences of the early church assuming its complete responsibilities in Jesus’ absence.   One might say that the first Pentecost was the moment when God fully empowered the Church to act as Christ’s Body; one might also say that this Body wholly took on the work of Jesus.   The work of being Jesus meaning that we are gifted as his followers to act as he did, to embody God’s love as he did, to see to the needs of others as he did, and to reflect God’s compassion as he did. 
I speak from personal experience when I say that I know such work to be amazingly rewarding, challenging, heartwarming, humbling, and profoundly exhausting – all rolled into one.  I also can speak to the truth that volunteers and staff work very hard from September to June to support the life of the church and look forward to time to relax and re-create, especially in a climate such as ours with precious few weeks of suitable weather to be outdoors comfortably. 
But we must also remember that our post modern inclination to see ourselves as “human doings” rather than human beings means that even re-creating can present us with unforeseen challenges.  Coupled with an inner guilt associated with taking time off, which I encounter in people’s attitudes and which prompts many to not take time off, a serious issue presents itself.  We seem to take pride in being workaholics!  This plays further into the ambiguity of Pentecost with which I began. 
But there is hope!  And that hope I believe also came with the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost.  The best way I can convey this hope is to pass along to you a powerful little story passed on to me by my good friend the Rev. Dr. Edward Kienzle.  A story which can help us avoid the trap of our cultural and personal over-attachment to work and remember that the meaning of Pentecost has many life giving facets. 
Here it is…
Anthony, the fourth century desert father, enjoyed playing games in the summer evening.  After witnessing this Holy man play game after game with his disciples, one pilgrim gave Anthony a scorching lecture on the wastefulness of such play.
 After patiently listening to the man’s tirade Anthony asked the man to place an arrow in a bow and pull the string of the bow as far back as he could.  When the man did this Anthony told him to pull it tighter.  “No, not enough,” Anthony told him.  “Tighter, tighter!”  At last the pilgrim shouted, “If I pull it any tighter, the string will snap!!”           Anthony walked a few paces away from the man and turned to him and said, “Yes, you have spoken the truth.  And so it is for the souls of believers.  We will snap if we are pulled tight and never find the time to play and relax.’”
Pentecost is our longest season, stretching out as it does from late May to late November; just as there has been plenty of time to work over the last year, there will be again, and with “enthusiasm.”  But I hope we will find this first part of Pentecost as a season to re-create and nurture God’s Spirit, God’s Holy flame, within us.  To be wise and gentle in managing the use of our energy and discover the joy of resting, playing, and relaxing with no particular agenda other than the restoration of that gift which resides in us, given by God. 
Hopefully once rested, we will come back to the work God has given us and which we are called to enthusiastically share with others in God’s world; God’s Holy Spirit, God’s love, God’s flame alive in our hearts and the church.  

[1] A word in Greek which literally meant “God alive in them.”

Sunday, May 13, 2012

  The homily for Sunday, May 13, Easter 6, "God's Friend" is now posted on our You Tube Video Channel. You can reach it on the You Tube Video Bar below!

Many Blessings!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


  Christ is Risen! The Lord is RISEN Indeed! Alleluia!
Happy and Blessed Easter to everyone!

Easter Sunday Homily

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Please Join Us for the Good Friday Service

Please join us for the Good Friday Service

11:00 a.m.
St. Barnabas Anglican Church
80 Glendale Avenue, Deep River, ON.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Choral Evensong THANK YOU!!!

St. Barnabas Anglican Music Team
Thank you to our Red and Rousing Sounding Music Team!!
Last night's Choral Evensong service was wonderful!!! Everyone sang and played so beautifully for it. We had a turn-out of about 54 people (in addition to the Music Team!)  including a few from other churches as well. Thank you to all of you for all the practice and effort you put into preparing for this service. The anthem by Thomas Tallis came through beautifully. It was wonderful to hear the congregation singing so enthusiastically throughout the service. Thank you to François who carried us through all the versicles and responses so beautifully. The wine and cheese social afterwards for all the participants in the service was a great way to end the evening. The tables filled with various wines and cheeses with the added atmosphere of candles made everything look beautiful....and tasty as well. Thank you everyone for pitching in with this part so beautifully.

We did miss those who could not make it last night....Marie, Duncan, Victor and Lawrence.

Have a great day!
Organist & Choir Director

Friday, March 23, 2012

Choral Evensong this Sunday!!!

Choral Evensong 
March 25th at 7:00 p.m.
Please join us for a wonderful Choral Evensong.
This is a short service with no Eucharist.
We will be singing some of the traditional hymns with organ and brass accompaniment.
The service will be projected for ease in participation. 


 St. Barnabas Anglican Church,
80 Glendale Avenue, Deep River, ON

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lenten waiting?

I am sure that many Christians have no trouble associating the notion of waiting with Advent.  The readings of the four Sundays of Advent speak to this idea without equivocation.  When one adds the concept of watching while we wait for the coming of Jesus, Advent is surely well described. 
Perhaps due to my own impatience I have been considering just how much of Lent is also about waiting.  But this Lenten waiting seems much more active to me than Advent.  It is a waiting which invites one to choose to do that which will bring real change within.  Whether or not one chooses the traditional Anglican practices of self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we hope that our choices which began on Ash Wednesday will find fruition on Easter morning.
This impact of active Lenten waiting is barely recognizable at first because of its cumulative nature.  Changes within us occur little by little each day, much like the changes which come as the snow melts at this time of year – though not as quickly as of late here in Deep River.  The changes we strive towards by God’s grace shift us slowly from where we have prayerfully considered ourselves to be to where we wish to be with God.  Our daily Lenten task is to attempt to add to each previous day’s active waiting in the anticipation that we will have been drawn nearer to the love of God. 
There is an irony which I also discover in that as I move nearer to Easter I realize more fully that God’s love lies already ready within me; dormant, as one might say.  And as with the warming of the sun on the land which lies dormant and frozen at this time of year the radiance of God’s love, stirred I believe by Lenten practices, becomes exposed by increments.  I gradually become aware once again that what has covered my heart and perhaps frozen God out of certain aspects of my life, now through my active Lenten waiting begins to resurface.
What will be left after the detritus of my accumulated neglect has melted away in my heart will be a heart ready in earnest for what God can bring to be within it.  The Lenten disciplines which I have adopted do their job by incrementally revealing and reminding me of that which I think I already knew; where my life comes from and to whom I owe everything – the One who has created me, and our entire universe, out of love.  I try to be gentle with myself by not to being too disappointed in my great need to do this each year. Rather, I have adopted the Lenten discipline of rejoicing in the ancient wisdom of the saints who have already walked this path and have left it for me and future generations, I hope, to walk as well.  I now take great comfort in their Lenten gift handed so graciously over to each one of us, if we are willing to accept it. 
And thankfully, even if not all at once, change does come.  Just as with the miracle of the Resurrection something, which at first seemed quite impossible, does happen; a once covered and frozen heart will be warmed and stirred back to new life by God’s boundless love for that heart. 
Such is the small wonder which is revealed in us we hope day by day on our Lenten pilgrimage.  Such is the great wonder which God desires to be fully ours and is fully revealed to us on Easter morn. 
Such is glorious waiting…

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Joy of Scriptures

As a dyed in the wool Anglican I suppose it is redundant for me to tell you that I love to study scripture.  Being an ordained minister and having served in both the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church of the United States it may seem obvious to state that I love studying our Holy texts.  But I should like to point out that my joy at this activity is also found in sharing the study of Holy Scriptures.
My proclivity for bible studies in parishes that I have served has meant that my studies are not solitary.  Along with parishioners I am gifted with unpacking (a term I learned in seminary) the texts with others.  I find it astonishing how lively and engaging such things can be.  To gather with others and bring the texts to life (so much more appealing than “unpacking,” don’t you think?) enlivens me beyond words.  At this point in time I can see my children rolling their eyes and hear them tell me “to get a life!”  However, living with these Holy texts is life, in my opinion. 
The words speak to me as freshly and with such immediacy as if they were being read to me by the authors themselves.  Or better yet, as if Jesus were in the room.  In the case of the gospels years of study now bring me to the point where I really do hear the words in the “voice” of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Each one as individual and as compelling to me as the voice as any living individual I know.
That is one of the beautiful things about studying these gifts we are given – they come alive.  The obscuring mist which seems to surround scripture (any combination of the murkiness of language, mores, and meaning) is lifted and the immediacy of their impact for us fairly leaps off the page for me.  Not always, of course.  But so often that in the truest sense of the word one becomes “addicted” to the process and that with an addiction that is salutary.  There is a deep connection on many levels; a connection with Christ, with the author’s intentions, with those who have sat down and done the same thing for the better part of the last two thousand years, and of course with those alive and well and jumping in with me.  
I am of the conviction that the renewal of the Anglican Church in our day will come about and will do so as a result of people sitting in such studies and finding the intuitive connection I have witnessed so many times.  There is an engagement which gradually emerges and with that a sense of wonder, humility, and response-ability that is so rewarding, so engaging, so spirit filled that one might almost call it divine.
 It is obvious but bears repeating; these texts have survived for so long because they are indeed filled with God’s life for us.  They are magnificently conceived and carefully designed, the Sistine Chapel pales by comparison, to draw us into something much larger than we are.  They are filled with all the variances, shortcomings, agendas, and oversights of which we humans are capable.  At the same time they are filled with a life giving mystery that resonates with the very depths of our humanity.
That is perhaps their greatest attraction to me – they are about us! 
They are somehow a vision of what it means to be human and divine, all other evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.  It is such an honour and privilege to be able to share them with each other and hopefully open them more fully to other people’s hearts and minds.  It is a grace filled gift to be response-able in our day to unfold their meaning for us and then humbly share that meaning with others. 
Dare one say that it just does not get any better than this!   

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Lament

There is always a certain sense of hope that accompanies the coming of a New Year.  However, very early on in 2012 as we are,  familiar refrains continue to sound in our ears, not all of which resonate with hope: the ongoing scandal in the Roman Catholic Church in the Diocese of Antigonish being the most recent discordant leitmotiv.  Because I am an Anglican I want to be sure to point out that this is not about one upmanship or pointing fingers at another tradition’s woes.  My beloved Anglican church has its own share of such scandals and vexations. 
These thoughts are about one aspect of what I feel ails the “Church.”  What I want is for us to reflect upon, as Christians affiliated with mainline denominations, the harsh realities we face as we move further into this decade.  Pointedly, this should be read from a perspective which embraces the most inclusive notion of Christianity as the “Body of Christ,” those baptized into the faith of the Triune God.  I am a member of that Body and as such share in the responsibility to come to terms with not just the presenting issues, such as those which are devoured by the press, but the underlying causes which we must address if we are to continue to make claim to being Christ’s Body, regardless of denomination.
So, as I watched this week as yet one more fallen high ranking cleric forced his way through the requisite gauntlet of ravenous reporters, I mourned and prayed.  Then I observed the resulting interviews with disgusted, and perhaps disaffected, individuals bemoaning the heinous character of the acts that had been committed.  I recoiled as I listened to such individuals demonize this person placed in a position of great trust, and who chose to abuse that trust; all of which stirred a variety of distressing emotions within me. 
First, was that of great sadness.
There is profound sadness within me that the pornographic exploitation of children is such a huge industry enjoying phenomenal profits around our world, and that any individual is only a few moments away from viewing, purchasing, and promulgating such materials.  Sadness that our culture is more at ease with condemning those who engage in procuring such things rather than dare to commit to fully and properly funding the eradication of the industry of child pornography. 
It continues to shock and sadden me each time this occurs that a person whose vocation was to tend and care for the vulnerable should so clearly violate that trust.  It also continues to equally shock and sadden me that the events which led that person to use such materials is usually not something that happens overnight or in a vacuum, and how the church somehow covers its eyes and lacks the will to help prevent such things from coming to pass. There is also sadness that the character of such offenses is not an individual occurrence relegated to one denomination in the Body of Christ: it is something that vexes all of the Church.  
Second, my anger arises at the superficial righteousness of those who decry and condemn the church. 
While there is no doubt that all denominations must stop ordained individuals from abusing their power over others.  While there is no doubt that anyone whose life has turned to the use of such banned materials should be immediately removed from positions of trust and receive help.  While there is no doubt that the Church’s complicity of silence in such circumstances should not be treated as an internal matter – and should be seen and tried with the full extent of jurisprudence as complicit after the fact.
Yet, there are no demons and monsters involved here, as so many characterize these miserable individuals caught up in the shadows of our human make-up.  What we see before us in these woeful men (almost exclusively) is just how proximate is the stumbling block of misdirected desires which can lead any one of one of us to fall victim to both sides of this trap: On the one hand the ability to choose to engage in the use of child pornography and on the other the propensity to judge as only God would judge.  Neither of which should ever occur in our lives lest we forget our calling as Christians to be compassionate.
Third, my utter frustration and inability to respond to such events in a manner, which might helpfully address the issue, we have before us: the existence and use of child pornography is not an insoluble problem, it is matter of our collective will – or in this case lack thereof.   
Do we as the church (regardless of denomination) have the will to engage the reality of the existence of such material, and its use by some of our leadership?  More appropriately, do we have the will to recognize that it is a problem which will not be properly eliminated by demonizing those who become caught up in its tendrils?  And do we have the collective will to look into the dark corners of our culture (and ourselves) and raise our voices, despite our complicity, to protect those children who are tragically exploited by this industry? 
So I pray. 
Not as an act fostered by my sense of powerlessness in the face of such collective inertia.  But as a means to open my will, our will, to God’s will; the God who so often named that which diminished us as he walked with us and forgave us.
I pray that the church will stop burying its head in the sand because of the consequences of misunderstanding, overlooking or denying the length and breadth of our human sexuality.  I pray that the church will stop relying on proof texting favourite biblical passages to address serious issues that demand a mature and nuanced response to the manner in which we, as a culture, have trivialized and grossly exploited the God given gift that our sexuality truly is.  I pray that Church leadership will stand up, bemoan, and eliminate its complicity in the ongoing abuse of trust which exists in its handling of clerics who fall victim to their own misdirected freedoms.
I pray that the Body of Christ will dedicate itself to finding ways to eliminate all forms of abuse of trust and power.  I pray that we will strive to protect the innocent and that our energies will be devoted to reconstituting the Church to embrace and embody its particular calling to be a place where all may safely find God’s life giving refuge and healing.