Saturday, November 26, 2016

Advent?

I think most of us have heard the term “hit the reset button.”  “Psychiatry Today” defines it loosely as “to start over, to relaunch yourself.”  So, little did I know that for the many years while I have been practicing Advent devotions I have been “relaunching” myself!  Who knew?
Bear with me.  There is a lot of merit to the idea that Advent is a good time to restart those aspects of our faith life that need it.  Preparing for the birth of something new should demand nothing less.  All the more so if that preparation is for the one who “was made man so that man could be made God” (St. Irenaeus) - Jesus. 
Taking a good look at the manner in which my life is open to the divine is an important task in Advent.  My prayers, my readings, my time devoted to being present to God, are just some of the dimensions which could be “relaunched” during Advent.  As with other years here at St. Barnabas we also have our daily devotions which ties our prayer lives together as a parish and hopefully opens our hearts to our common life. 
I am not sure how you feel about the word piety but for some it unfortunately kindles a suspicion that is associated with inadequacy.  This is entirely subjective but nonetheless it’s a word that very much draws such looks when I mention it.  Yet Advent is a good time to re-examine one’s piety, how we live out our faith; what impact it has on our day to day habits, if at all.  Sadly though, “relaunching one’s self” (I am really getting the hang of it now) has, in the past, been tied to guilt. 
If there is one thing Jesus did not do was require guilt on the part of the person whose life he was about to “relaunch” in any of the encounters I can recall in the gospels!  So, let’s stay away from that this Advent and look instead at the hopeful opportunities to embrace our calling.  After all we are called to be God’s agents of change in this world and what better place to start than with ourselves.
So, take to heart the opportunity to relaunch this Advent: a new prayer, a new time to read about your favourite Saint (I have taken up a new book about St. Francis of Assisi – it’s great!), spend time with the Devotions, practice random acts of kindness (home is a great place to start), share of the gift of who you are with others, and especially create a place for God within to be a part of all this.
I am looking forward to seeing where this relaunch will take me.  My hope is that I will be just a few steps closer to the child who will be born to us all this Christmas.

Peace, François.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Mother's Union Stitch & Pray


As the St. Barnabas branch of the Mothers’ Union has many members interested in various crafts, we decided to start a Stitch and Pray group, so that we could meet socially and still pray for the MU and other projects we support. 

The group is open to all members of St. Barnabas and the town who love making crafts. We have all sorts of interesting crafts, such as lacemaking, felting, cross stitch, knitting and crocheting; and we are enjoying learning from each other; and spending time together in prayer at the end of the session.  

Prayer is led by a member of the group and others join in as they wish.  It is indeed a very productive afternoon.  We usually meet on the third Monday of the month from 2 to 4pm, upstairs in the church foyer, where the light is good! Everyone is welcome.



The next Stitch and Pray will take place at the church on Monday, November 21 from 2 to 4 pm.  Perhaps some last minute crafts for the bazaar?

Mark December’s Stitch and Pray on your calendar now.  Monday, December 122 to 4 pm, at Cheryl’s new home, 7 Pine Point Close.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

FALL BACK and SHOW UP SUNDAY!!!



This is also a great time to change the batteries and check all smoke alarms!!!


Friday, October 7, 2016

Stewardship....Giving!!!!!!

Can we even talk about selfless giving in today’s context?  Can people give without expecting some sort of reasonable return; a tax credit, a public handshake, the secret knowing of another…Each one a weight reminding ourselves, and perhaps others, of what we have done.  Is it possible that giving is always about being recognized, about me and not about the gift?
For a long a time I really used to think it was about “what’s in it for me.” 
The only giving I saw was that which came with commensurate flattery for my thirsty ego. 
I am thankful I have had a change of heart.
Many years as a priest have taught me otherwise.  I am privileged to have known and know a number of people who give without any need of acknowledgement; who just help others, who hold hands that need to be held, who comfort hearts broken by the cruelty of life; many of those who give are themselves revived hearts that tend to those newly broken…Each simply because they have found the real meaning of giving, and without which life is immeasurably diminished: you give because you must.  You give because it marks you as human, you give because it defines the eternal life into which you have been created!
I suppose that the example of Jesus’ unfathomable giving is now 2000 years old.  To many it has become passé, an intriguing curiosity, a quaint concept of past human behaviour, proclaimed by immature individuals who don’t understand how the “real” world works. 
That is such a tragedy because it fundamentally advocates that we are all alone.  To give is to acknowledge that you are not alone!  To give means that you refuse to let the tide of meaningless rise any further.  To give means that you do not accept that life is simply “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.[1]” To give means you wish to resonate boldly with the unrelenting generosity, the engulfing, and the unceasing source of all that is – God.
I am convinced that selfless giving is quite simply to brazenly reject and then powerfully redirect whatever keeps you locked up in your self; giving a is a defiant act of sovereignty over the self.  A moment when we tangibly acknowledge that what has kept us from seeing the true nature of life no longer holds dominion on that part of us which is closest to God – our heart of hearts.  Somehow that part has been called back to itself as the likeness of God.  You have learned that to give is to join the current that turns creation back to itself, to its source, to its ultimate destination – to God.
You cannot help yourself, nor would you want to – you simply give!  For no other reason than it has become the breath you need to live.  When we are open to this simple understanding of giving the world may not be changed but our world is changed.  Call it stewardship if you like, but that is merely one dimension, a consequence, of knowing the destination.  The real source of giving is knowing that you are created out of God’s universe’s immense outpouring of giving.  As a recipient of the giving, which is the source of your life, you know in the most genuine of “knowings” that you are not able to reciprocate but you must join in!
The divine giving which is unfailingly constant and profoundly eternal is waiting.  Waiting for us to awaken from the insidious lethargy which can overtake us in life.  Brought on by pain, fear, and selfishness, to name but three, the sleep of death can begin imperceptibly long before our pulse stops.  Giving enlivens us to the non stop pulse of life in God. 
We give because, like love itself, it’s the reason for our creation and in whose image we claim our humanity – God. 
So, in the face of contrary claims about the nature of giving as fundamentally self serving WE need to remind ourselves that we are children of selfless giving.  Giving has a core claim on us because it rises from our deepest intuition; we are all children of the God whose fingerprints are everywhere – grace! 

Peace,
François


[1] Thomas Hobbes, Leviathian, 1651


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Join us for The Blessing of the Animals Service Sunday October 2nd!!!

Please joins us and bring your animals along for our annual Blessing of the Animals service, 10:00 a.m., Sunday October 2nd.  We will be prepared for all eventualities so please don't worry!  Our pets bring joy and comfort to our lives every day. This wonderful service allows our community to share with you the love and joy of your pets!!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Our Collective Breath…



The Crab Nebula, NASA, www.nasa.gov
My day began this morning, the morning after the shooting of police officers and civilians in Dallas TX, with prayers.  Prayer is not unusual for me; I am an Anglican priest.  However, the sequence of what influenced my prayers today still has me pondering.
As I ate breakfast after my prayers I looked at an online image that stunned me and humbled me.  It was the latest beautiful photo taken by the Hubble telescope of the Crab Nebula.  I say latest because the Crab Nebula was seared on our collective subconscious in the 11th century when on the 4th of July, 1054, Chinese astronomers first recorded the supernova in what we have come to call the Crab Nebula.  The Hubble photograph is enthralling in its overwhelming scale and beauty.  It is also unsettling to me because of the sheer scale and power at the source of the nebula: a neutron star 1.4 times the size of our sun yet whose mass is 10 BILLION times greater. 
The photo provoked within me a sense of humility and larger perspective that are not easily dismissed; how small I am; how small we are in this universe.  At the same time, I was reminded of the gorgeous photo of planet earth (“Earth Rise”) I saw as a young lad taken by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders in 1968.  Each of these images stirred something within, which caused me to remain very still and very silent…
But it wasn’t long afterwards that the same technology which brought me to wonder at the enormity of this universe, and the source of its creating and sustaining power, also brought me abruptly down to earth again: the shootings in Dallas, Texas last evening tackled me to the ground and held me down so forcibly that it felt as if someone was standing on chest.
I know that feeling will not last. 
Not so for the five police officers, as well as a suspect killed last night in Dallas.  Their breath has been taken from them and will not return; that is a terrible tragedy.
As I regain my breath I am confounded by recent and frequently occurring violent events which, despite lack of reporting from mainstream media, are not restricted to the United States.  Why do we keep doing such things to ourselves, tackling one another to the ground, often with such horribly lethal force? 
The evocative images I pondered this morning reminded me that, seen from space, one cannot see that the earth is divided into clans, races, peoples, cultures, states, or even by time itself.  From a cosmic perspective this earth is one: fragile, vulnerable, and a beautiful blue home for all the life that it sustains.  From space you cannot see that human vision is too often myopic and corrupted by the things that push us down: our fears, our pride, and our propensities for violence and, or, running from it.  From space you cannot tell how long our collective vision will be diabolically distracted from the cosmic vision available to us. It makes me wonder how long we will remain creatures who struggle with earth bound determinism when I believe we are offered a common vision of ourselves as cosmic creatures called to rise above our histories.
I am no less tormented by such violent events than anyone else.  Yet I cannot help but hope that what we learn from the dead and the injured in Dallas, and anywhere such atrocities occur, will not be bound by any of the familiar agendas which belittle us and attempt to reassert their sovereignty!  Unless, of course, we allow them to do so. Gun violence, brutality, over-reaching rights claims, hate, and prejudice are all very real and alive in the exposés of human inadequacy which liter our grossly misguided media. 
So I ask: must we continue to allow them to hold us down?   
Can we rise from them?
Not as a means of escape, or blaming others, or overlooking them, but by yearning for, seeking and achieving a greater perspective about ourselves.  A means of looking at who we are, what our better angels call us to be; and consider these things from a larger, less confining, less repetitive viewpoint.  I believe we can and must rise from the burdens of these calamities and lift ourselves from the gravity of our mistakes, which take our breath away. 
I believe we can learn that in the events such as the one in Dallas there is no more room for violence or running away from it, here on earth.  Looking upon our island home from space can give us the gift of seeing that the earth has become too small for such behaviour.  We cannot afford to deprive ourselves of our cosmic breath any longer. 
My hope is that this event, which stopped my breathing for a while, will have stopped yours for a while too. That our collective horizons will expand beyond ourselves and see the billions of “others” who share this planet as no different than you and me.  We are living on a wondrous island in a cosmos whose grandeur should humble and liberate us.  All the while beckoning us to look beyond the things which keep us apart. 
Finally, I return to prayers with the hope that we will look more clearly at what can hold us together, here on our blue green home and learn to breathe together in peace; if only because there is no more room on planet earth for anything else!
Peace,
François



Our Collective Breath…


My day began this morning, the morning after the shooting of police officers and civilians in Dallas TX, with prayers.  Prayer is not unusual for me; I am an Anglican priest.  However, the sequence of what influenced my prayers today still has me pondering.

The Crab Nebula, NASA, www.nasa.gov
As I ate breakfast after my prayers I looked at an online image that stunned me and humbled me.  It was the latest beautiful photo taken by the Hubble telescope of the Crab Nebula.  I say latest because the Crab Nebula was seared on our collective subconscious in the 11th century when on the 4th of July, 1054, Chinese astronomers first recorded the supernova in what we have come to call the Crab Nebula.  The Hubble photograph is enthralling in its overwhelming scale and beauty.  It is also unsettling to me because of the sheer scale and power at the source of the nebula: a neutron star 1.4 times the size of our sun yet whose mass is 10 BILLION times greater. 
The photo provoked within me a sense of humility and larger perspective that are not easily dismissed; how small I am; how small we are in this universe.  At the same time, I was reminded of the gorgeous photo of planet earth I saw as a young lad taken by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders in 1968.  Each of these images stirred something within, which caused me to remain very still and very silent…
But it wasn’t long afterwards that the same technology which brought me to wonder at the enormity of this universe, and the source of its creating and sustaining power, also brought me abruptly down to earth again: the shootings in Dallas, Texas last evening tackled me to the ground and held me down so forcibly that it felt as if someone was standing on chest.
I know that feeling will not last. 
Not so for the five police officers, as well as a suspect killed last night in Dallas.  Their breath has been taken from them and will not return; that is a terrible tragedy.
As regain my breath I am confounded by recent and frequently occurring violent events which, despite lack of reporting from mainstream media, are not restricted to the United States.  Why do we keep doing such things to ourselves, tackling one another to the ground, often with such horribly lethal force? 
The evocative images I pondered this morning reminded me that, seen from space, one cannot see that the earth is divided into clans, races, peoples, cultures, states, or even by time itself.  From a cosmic perspective this earth is one: fragile, vulnerable, and a beautiful blue home for all the life that it sustains.  From space you cannot see that human vision is too often myopic and corrupted by the things that push us down: our fears, our pride, and our propensities for violence and, or, running from it.  From space you cannot tell how long our collective vision will be diabolically distracted from the cosmic vision available to us. It makes me wonder how long we will remain creatures who struggle with earth bound determinism when I believe we are offered a common vision of ourselves as cosmic creatures called to rise above our histories.
I am no less tormented by such violent events than anyone else.  Yet I cannot help but hope that what we learn from the dead and the injured in Dallas, and anywhere such atrocities occur, will not be bound by any of the familiar agendas which belittle us and attempt to reassert their sovereignty!  Unless, of course, we allow them to do so. Gun violence, brutality, over-reaching rights claims, hate, and prejudice are all very real and alive in the exposés of human inadequacy which liter our grossly misguided media. 
So I ask: must we continue to allow them to hold us down?   
Can we rise from them?
Not as a means of escape, or blaming others, or overlooking them, but by yearning for, seeking and achieving a greater perspective about ourselves.  A means of looking at who we are, what our better angles call us to be; and consider these things from a larger, less confining, less repetitive viewpoint.  I believe we can and must rise from the burdens of these calamities and lift ourselves from the gravity of our mistakes, which take our breath away. 
I believe we can learn that in the events such as the one in Dallas there is no more room for violence or running away from it, here on earth.  Looking upon our island home from space can give us the gift of seeing that the earth has become too small for such behaviour.  We cannot afford to deprive ourselves of our cosmic breath any longer. 
My hope is that this event, which stopped my breathing for a while, will have stopped yours for a while too. That our collective horizons will expand beyond ourselves and see the billions of “others” who share this planet as no different than you and me.  We are living on a wondrous island in a cosmos whose grandeur should humble and liberate us.  All the while beckoning us to look beyond the things which keep us apart. 
Finally, I return to prayers with the hope that we will look more clearly at what can hold us together, here on our blue green home and learn to breathe together in peace; if only because there is no more room on planet earth for anything else!
Peace,
François