Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The People's Warden Offers His Thoughts, Reflections and Questions on Lent

This editorial was written by Steven B. the People's Warden at St. Philip's. Steven is a humble man who practices his faith with an integrity and honesty that is truly inspirational. Here are his candid reflections on Lent as it pertains to his journey of faith.

During a discussion with Richard [the social media coordinator at SPC], I offered in a moment of light-hearted fun to write a short reflection on Lent, through the eyes of a Church Warden. When it eventually struck me that he had taken me at my word, I began to ponder: what exactly is Lent? And why should I write about it? I have no theological education beyond what little I absorb from sermons and Bible studies. I see my “call” at St-Philip’s as ensuring that burned out light bulbs get replaced – very necessary, but not in any way spiritual. Still, even if it was a moment of light jest and perhaps weakness, I did promise. Therefore, I ponder, and the question is deep: What is Lent to me? What should it be?

I have discussed this with friends gathered about Church coffee urns everywhere. One friend forgoes chocolate during Lent; another, coffee; yet another, alcohol. These are three friends, among many, who impress me and inspire me to confront my own comparatively anemic faith journey. I confront, and I despair! Who am I to make such a wonderful gesture to our Lord? I say nasty things to people who love me. I let down people who trust me to protect them. I don’t even get the light bulbs changed very well. How in the world can I make a holy gesture before God for Lent, and not feel like a complete fake? I imagine the whispers: “Who is he trying to kid?”

So I come to God, with nothing but these fears and failures on my lips. “Lord, what would you have from me?” God hasn’t answered – at least not in any concrete way that I can identify. Maybe he expects me to try something – to make a suggestion. Great… With no credibility whatsoever then, I begin to ponder Lent, and whether and how I might observe it this year. What if instead of giving up something I enjoy, I were to get up early each day and read my Bible? What if I were to write each day a list of things I am sorry for, and ask God, and perhaps some of you, for forgiveness?

These feel like commitments that would be good for my own faith journey. Perhaps I will try some of them. What I will do for sure though, and more each year, is to contemplate Lent, a Church season fraught with significance, and how it applies to me. Where do I stand with my Lord? What would I like to change? What would God like me to change? All questions, no answers, but questions I will wrestle with. Perhaps God will touch me, as he did Jacob, and even break me, but what if I then emerge a bit more in tune with my own faith and religion? It’s terrifying, but I want it. May I be touched by God this Lent.

Steven B.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lent Studies from Around the Church

Ali Symons, Anglican Church of Canada
January 23, 2013 -

What are you doing for Lent? As this reflective season approaches, the General Synod web team has culled some of its favorite online Lent resources from church partners. Browse below to see what might work for your personal or parish meditations.

1. Marks of Mission study: Diocese of Montreal
A five-week study that guides parishes to work and prayer over a biblical text during Lent. All the material is available online-including downloadable PDFs with background material and instructions for each week. The authors (Jennifer Bourque, Karen Chalk, and Nicholas Pang) say that any community is free to use the study, but they would love to see your feedback posted on the site. Consider using this study for other seasons-it is highly adaptable. Access online now.

2. Primate's World Relief and Development Fund
Written by the Rev. Laura Marie Piotrowicz, Diocese of Brandon, these daily reflections (available as a PDF) support those who choose to fast in some way. The Monday to Saturday reflections focus on issues of local food security and each Sunday connects with the weekly Gospel theme and a PWRDF good news story. Download PDF now.

3. Canadian Council of Churches: The Bruised Reed
The Bruised Reed is a Christian reflection on suffering and hope, produced by the Commission on Faith and Witness, Canadian Council of Churches. The booklet includes eight real Canadian stories of suffering and hope with hymns, prayers, and poems presented throughout. The Bruised Reed is available as a PDF or can be ordered as a print resource in English or French. A donation of $10 is suggested. For more information, email order@councilofchurches.ca

4. Church of England: Love Life Live Lent
It may be a little late to order this popular booklet, which offers 40 simple daily actions that "help us transform our world-locally, nationally, and globally." However, the site offers many downloadable resources, including 25 daily Lenten practices for people with autism, written by Ann Memmott, a woman on the autism spectrum. You can also follow the ongoing Twitter conversation with the hashtag #livelent.

5. Coming soon: General Synod's video series
General Synod will feature video meditations written and produced by the Rev. Scott McLeod, online ministries in the Diocese of British Columbia. These 14 reflections will be released beginning on Ash Wednesday and follow the stations of the cross.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Potluck Lunch on February 10th and a Review of the Origin of a Potluck

On February 10th 2013 St. Philip's Anglican Church will be hosting a potluck lunch following the 10:00 am service. All are invited to bring food and share a meal with our community. Parishioners are asked to bring in any form of food, ranging from a main course to desserts.

While we have all attended potlucks, not many people know the origin of the word. In this context a potluck is defined as "a communal meal to which people bring food to share." Synonyms for a potluck meal include Jacob's join, Jacob's supper, and in church circles it is sometimes called a 'faith supper.'

According to one anthropological assessment of the potluck, church meals can be as important as services, doctrine, or ethics. They are often construed as analogies for the church's understanding of the structure of society.

As reviewed in Wikipedia, the Irish, know potluck as a meal with no particular menu. The term comes from a time when groups of Irish women would gather together and cook dinner. They only had one pot so they cooked the meal together with whatever ingredients they happened to have that day.

The potluck can also refer to the fellowship offering which was a communal dinner by a religious community as well as an act of sacrifice. As per Jewish sacrificial ritual it included the boiling of the meat after the fat had been burned off on the altar. A representative of the priest would randomly plunge the fork into the boiling pot and whatever portion of the meat came out on the fork was for the priest. This could rightly be considered to be the "Luck" of the "Pot," both for the priest and for the person making the sacrifice. It is not surprising then that the term "'potluck' is used for church social meals.

Regardless of the etiology of the potluck, all are welcome to contribute a meal and share in fellowship on February 10th.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Interview with Lee-Ann Matthews Parishioner and the Former Rector's Warden at St. Philip's Church

In a series of articles for Montreal Anglican Mark Dunwoody, diocesan youth consultant, is interviewing youth workers from across the Diocese of Montreal who selflessly give up their own time to serve our young people!  Here he interviews Lee-Ann Matthews, youth coordinator at St. Thomas’ N.D.G. and formerly the rector’s warden at St Philip’s Montreal West. 

MD: Lee-Ann, tell us a bit about yourself.

LAM: OK. Sure. Let’s see – I’m in love with my two dogs and my cat. I devote lots of time and energy to their care. I live a healthy active lifestyle that includes a daily yoga and meditation practice. I got divorced last year a after a 13-year marriage and I came out as a lesbian at the age of 42. I am currently in a happy stable relationship with my partner.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Consultation Sets Timelines to Improve Church Structures

January 14, 2013 - A group of 40 Canadian Anglicans, many under 35, have taken steps to review church structures through a consultation held in Mississauga, Jan. 8 to 10.

The consultation on church structures was mandated by Vision 2019, the Anglican Church of Canada's visioning document, which was adopted in 2010.

Facilitated by Janet Marshall and Rhonda Waters, the consultation aimed to "help the church shape General Synod's structures to achieve the ministry priorities of the General Synod to embody God's call into mission."

In a report back to General Synod staff, Archbishop Hiltz summarized these commitments from the meeting:

Within the next year, General Synod will * Re-examine current governance through standing committees, which oversee departmental work, and move towards more task forces and commissions, which work with defined mandates and timelines.

* Overhaul the information technology infrastructure at Church House, including adding new technologies that enable long-distance meetings.

* Establish covenants with dioceses about financial commitments and pieces of program work.

* Increase partnerships with full communion partner the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in the areas of communications, stewardship, theological education, worship, and youth ministry.

* Establish new trusts with new financial resources for emerging priorities, including, for example, the church's partnership with the Episcopal Church of Cuba. The consultation noted that too much of the church's ministry is done with "old money," said the Primate.

In the next year or two, General Synod will * Review how to communicate the stories of General Synod in order to generate revenue streams in new and creative ways. The Primate acknowledged that the Gifts for Mission gift guide is a step in this direction, but more improvement is needed. By General Synod 2016, General Synod will * Review the size and frequency of General Synod national meetings. The Primate noted that the church's constitution says meetings could be spaced up to five years apart, at the discretion of the Council of General Synod (COGS).

* Consider more decentralized structures for program work, for example, having certain program offices based in other parts of the country.

At the report back to staff, the Primate said this process will eventually affect the staffing of General Synod, although it is too early to know specifics. He said that he and the General Secretary, the Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, are committed to help all staff cope with this anxiety.

Declining finances are a major reason why General Synod is working to restructure. The fall meeting of the Council of General Synod approved a transitional budget of $12.82 million with a deficit of $513,000. Revenues in 2012 had dropped more quickly than expected, mainly because of a decline in diocesan contributions.

A working group has now been appointed to review material from the recent consultation and refine recommendations for the March, 2013, COGS meeting. Members are Monica Patten (Ottawa), Melissa Green (Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior), Bishop Colin Johnson (Toronto), Jane Osler (Diocese of New Westminster), Cynthia Haines-Turner (Western Newfoundland), and the Rev. David Giffen (Toronto). Their first meeting is in Toronto, Jan. 24.

Recommendations from the spring 2013 COGS meeting will inform decisions at General Synod/Joint Assembly 2013. After this, COGS will meet again in November 2013 and their decisions will inform the creation of the 2014 budget.

"I'm glad the call for the consultation has been honoured in a good way," said Archbishop Hiltz.

"I'm very grateful for the participation of everyone who was there, very grateful for those that remembered us in their prayers, and grateful that we're emerging from this consultation feeling hopeful for the next steps in the journey."

The Primate noted that the consultation included "superb" liturgical highlights, including a Eucharist and silence for meditation, each day at noon.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Winter Tuesday Evening Forum: The Anglican Way

On Tuesday evenings, starting January 15, we will be exploring the basis of our faith, worship and practice as Anglican Christians. This is for adults seeking to be confirmed or received into the Anglican Church of Canada when the Bishop visits in April, or just looking to deepen their understanding of the Christian faith and how it is lived out in the Anglican Church.

While Fr. Pratt will lead off each session with a brief presentation, the format will be mostly discussion. Participants are encouraged to bring questions, doubts and challenges. Each session will run from 8 pm to 9 pm; participants may come at 7:30 for the regular Tuesday Eucharist, or may come just for the workshop. Participants can also come for the whole series, or only for topics of particular interest.

The Creeds (Tuesday, January 15)

We will examine the three historic creeds of the Church: the Apostles' Creed (the baptismal statement of faith), the Nicene Creed (the full statement of the faith developed by the councils of the early Church), and the Quicunque Vult or Athanasian Creed (a western statement of the doctrine of the Trinity). We'll talk about their historic context, and their relevance for today (differing opinions of the Virgin Birth and bodily resurrection).

The Bible I: The Hebrew Bible (Tuesday, January 22)

We will explore the Old Testament, including the apochryphal or deuterocanonical books, the different forms of literature in the Bible, different ways of critically reading the Bible, and the Old Testament's relevance today.

The Bible II: The New Testament (Tuesday, January 29)

We will continue our examination of the Bible with a look at the New Testament or Christian scriptures, paying attention to their historical and theological context. We'll also spend some time talking about why these books were included and other gospels and epistles were excluded.

Depending on the interests of the group and how long we spend on particular discussions, the rest of the schedule is subject to change. Topics to be included are:

A Brief History of Christianity I - From the Apostolic Age to the Renaissance: We cannot understand where we are now without knowing where we have come from; the events of history have shaped the beliefs (theology) and practices (ecclesiology, liturgy) of the church.

A Brief History of Christianity II - The Reformation: There's more to Anglicanism than Henry VIII wanting a divorce. We'll look at the various currents, political, social and theological, that converged in the 16th century and shaped Anglicanism as a distinct branch of the Christian Church, and their impact today.

Anglicanism from the Elizabethan Era to the Present Day: From the national church of England, Anglicanism has evolved into a global family of churches. We'll look at the development of the Anglican Communion, the current issues that are causing tension in the Communion, and relations with other churches.

Anglican Liturgy and Worship I: Thomas Cranmer and The Book of Common Prayer "Praying shapes believing". Since the Reformation, Anglican theology has been very visibly expressed in the way we worship. We'll look at the development of the Book of Common Prayer and its impact through subsequent generations.

Anglican Liturgy and Worship II: The Oxford Movement, the Liturgical Movement and the Emerging Church Various streams of influence since the 19th century have had significant impacts on Anglican worship and theology. An Anglican of the 18th century might not recognize St. Philip's as Anglican. We'll talk about these changes, and how each of us experiences the liturgy.

Living our Faith - The Baptismal Covenant: Baptism is our initiation into the church, and as part of the rite of baptism, we promise to live out the faith that we profess. We'll talk about how we live these promises in our daily lives.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Hope Filled Anthem for the Church

"Hope" is a melodic pop song, and the winner of the Anglican Church of Canada's Marks of Mission contest. Released on January 10, 2013, "Hope" by Jaylene Johnson and Jim Kimball topped more than 70 entries ranging in style from rock to choral. Songs were judged by a team of expert musicians.

The song features established talents. Johnson, a Winnipeg-based singer-songwriter has featured music on TV showsPretty Little Liars and Degrassi: the Next Generation. Nashville musician Kimball has toured with Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Justin Timberlake.

The original music video, produced by Anglican Video, is the centerpiece of the launch website, which also includes behind-the-scenes features on collaborators, including the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir and producer Randy Murray, communications officer at the Diocese of New Westminster and a former member of rock group BTO. It was Murray who pulled together this team of crack musicians for the recording sessions in Vancouver, March 2012. It came together over hours of hard work, beautiful sounds, and then ultimately, a polished final product.

The song itself is both catchy and deep. Its lyrics describe a hope that is enduring, beyond cheap gestures of "pulling petals off" or keeping "fingers crossed." Johnson said these words were inspired partially by her battle with chronic pain after a car accident. "I think hope is mysterious or maybe not so mysterious when we walk with God," she said.

Johnson also works as ministry coordinator at st. benedict's table, an Anglican mission, in Winnipeg. On the website the Rev. Jamie Howison, priest at st. benedict's table, explains why he appreciates the message of "Hope." The Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, is also a fan. "I thank Jaylene and James for this song," he said. "Thank you for its message of hope as a tiny voice that makes its way through all the noise of the world, and says ‘hold on.' "This song reminds me that our times are in God's hands and that hope truly is the song in the heart of our Church—at worship and at work in the world."

Parishes may wish to consider sharing the song during the Epiphany season, or on this special Sunday, Jan. 13, which marks the Baptism of our Lord. The song contest called for entries that represented the Marks of Mission—five priorities for ministry used throughout the global Anglican Communion.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Interview with Rev. Canon Sally Bingham

The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham is president and founder of the Regeneration Project and Interfaith Power and Light, a national interfaith network of affiliates that work with congregations to promote energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. She is also the lead author of Love God Heal Earth, published in 2009. In 2012 Sally was awarded the Audubon Society’s Rachel Carson Award for her environmental leadership. 

Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who studies climate change. She is an expert reviewer for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. Together with her husband she is the co-author of A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions. She recently appeared in Frontline’s “Climate of Doubt,” a PBS documentary exposing the individuals and groups behind efforts to attack science by undermining scientists who say they believe there is current climate change caused by human activity.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Archbishop Fred Hiltz's New Year's Day Address

Following is the text of Archbishop Fred Hiltz's New Year's Day address delivered at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa. It is a tradition that the Canadian Primate preaches at the cathedral of Canada's capital on January 1.

Every year I look forward to this Eucharist and to the levee that follows it. I want to thank your bishop for his kind invitation to preach, to thank your dean, the cathedral clergy, the choristers and all others who enable us to enter the New Year in the glory of Christmas song and the grace of this wondrous sacrament.

Lynne and I travel here by train and arrive early on New Year's Eve. We enjoy a quiet dinner and then a walk to the Hill to see the Houses of Parliament floodlit for the holidays. We pause at the Centennial Flame kindled on New Year's Day, 1967. Then we climb the steps to the Peace Tower. Completed in 1926, it houses the Memorial Chamber in which the names of all Canadians who have died in war are recorded in the Books of Remembrance. High above this chamber is the great carillon of 53 bells, the largest one bearing this inscription, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to men." (Luke 2:14), the song of the angels announcing the birth of the Christ child.

I come to this New Year's celebration having read a daily reflection through Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the Church's most beloved theologians. He was imprisoned for his criticism of the Nazi regime in Germany and hung by order of one of Hitler's final execution decrees in April, 1945. He was just 39 years old. Though his life was short, his legacy as a devoted Christian lives on in the papers he delivered, the entries he made in his diary and in his letters from prison.

Writing to his fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, on December 13, 1943, he said, "Be brave for my sake, dearest Maria, even if this letter is your only token of my love this Christmas-tide. ... God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment."

Bonhoeffer described the birth of the Christ Child as "the greatest turning point in history." "Everything past and everything future is accomplished here ... the infinite mercy of the almighty God comes to us in the form of a child."

How, he wondered, shall we deal with such a child? Have our hands, soiled with daily toil become too hard and too proud to fold in prayer at the sight of this child? Has our head become too full of serious thoughts ... that we cannot bow our head in humility at the wonder of this child? Can we not forget all our stresses and struggles, our sense of importance, and for once worship the child, as did the shepherds and the wise men from the East? ... Come and kneel down before this child of poor people and repeat in faith the stammering words of the prophet "Wonderful Counselor mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

So it is that we come to the naming of Jesus and all the way along our song is this, "Joy to the World." Written by Isaac Watts the carol has brightened Christmas for some 300 years. The first two verses call us to remember and rejoice. They call us, each and every one, to prepare room in our lives for him who comes as our Saviour. Every voice under heaven and earth is called to repeat the sounding joy of his reign of love. The other two verses speak of Christ coming "to make his blessings flow as far as our sin is found." They remind us of Paul's teaching that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself "(2 Corinthians 5:19). These verses hold before us a vision of the world ruled by the Lord's "truth and grace" The nations are at peace and all people know the "wonders of his love" and "the glories of his righteousness."

Reflecting on that carol, Bonhoeffer wrote, "Anyone for whom its sound is foreign, or who hears in it nothing but weak enthusiasm, has not yet really heard the gospel. For the sake of humankind, Jesus Christ became a human being in a stable in Bethlehem: Rejoice, O Christendom! For sinners, Jesus Christ became a companion of tax collectors and prostitutes: Rejoice, O Christendom! ... For the condemned Christ was condemned to the Cross on Golgotha: Rejoice O Christendom! For all of us, Jesus Christ was reconnected to life: Rejoice O Christendom. All over the world today people are asking: Where is the path to joy? The church of Christ answers loudly: "Jesus is our Joy."

In those beautiful words with which the carol ends -- "the glories of his righteousness and the wonders of his love," I see the essence of our witness as Christians in the world. It is a composite of beauty in worship, compassion in service and steadfastness in advocacy for justice and peace among all people. "The wonders of his love" in the manger and at the Jordan, in Galilee and in Jerusalem, in the Upper Room and on the cross are celebrated in the liturgy His care of the poor, the sick and the lonely is reflected in our effort to abide by the teaching of St. Chrysostom who said "In the first sense the body of Christ does not need clothing but only worship from a pure heart" but "in the second it does need clothing and all the care we can give it."

In my travels throughout our beloved Church I am overjoyed by the commitment of our people to provide food and to serve at soups kitchens, to give children a good breakfast before they go to school, to provide a haven from the cold of winter and the heat of summer and to turn church crypts and parish halls into safe places for people to sleep. Every night this Church of ours cares for thousands of men and women and children. It is a ministry that is absolutely integral to a faithful witness to Jesus Christ. It is what Bishop Michael Ingham calls "sensitive evangelism. It is diaconal rather than imperial. It is designed for service not conquest. It seeks to show forth the Lord Jesus in acts of compassion rather than to win souls deemed otherwise to be lost."

Diakonia, the servant ministry of the Church finds expression not only in unconditional love to the neighbor in need, but also in endeavoring to address the root causes of poverty. It seeks to bring about radical change. The fullness of diakonia reflects our Communion-wide Marks of Mission to respond to human need by loving service and to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of very kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation. Through abiding commitments to diakonia, "the wonders of the Lord's love" and "the glories of his righteousness" are made known.

I have seen such commitment in large urban congregations. I have seen it in small rural congregations and in tiny congregations in some of the most remote and isolated places in this vast country. I think especially of those congregations in the far-flung dioceses of the Council of the North. I recall this past year's gathering of the clericus in the Diocese of Moosonee. It is a five-day gathering hosted by the Bishop — an opportunity for the clergy to come together to rest, to be refreshed and renewed. "They desperately need this time to enjoy one another's company," says Bishop Tom Corston, "to celebrate their vocations and to share their experiences of ministry." The closing Eucharist is an emotional time as many of these clergy will not see one another for a whole year. These dear servants of God live so sacrificially. Their hearts are so firmly fixed on Christ and serving the people among whom they minister in his holy name. I ask your prayers for them, for their families and all whom they serve.

I think also of those men and women, ordained and lay serving among indigenous peoples who are living in the downtown core of many of our large cities in the south of Canada. Many are living in conditions of extreme poverty and in horrible cycles of addiction. I think of faithful pastors like the Rev. Andrew Wesley working in downtown Toronto, the Rev. Dale Gillman in downtown Regina, the Rev. Barbara Shoomski in downtown Winnipeg. The ministries of these dedicated servants of God may not make the headlines of our papers, but by day and by night they are faithfully holding the Christ light for so many who are in sitting in darkness and in the shadows of death. They are making known, "the wonders of the Lord's love" and "the glories of his righteousness."

Love and right relations, one with another -- that is the real work of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I am proud of our Church's unwavering commitment to support the work of the commissioners, and the regional gatherings and national events they are hosting. Justice Sinclair has challenged all of us — all the parties to the Settlement Agreement, the Churches, the Government, the AFN -- to consider the question "What is reconciliation? What is its nature? How do we know when it is beginning to emerge? What does it look like when it has been achieved? How have we been changed through the journey?"

Rooted in the tradition of the prophets and the gospel of Jesus, the churches have something to say about reconciliation, the sincerity of apology and the patience to wait for acceptance. We look to a new day when racism is a thing of the past and when relations between the First Nations Peoples of this land and all others who call it home are marked by respect.

Many of us have been following news about Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat. She is on a fast as she awaits a favorable response to her request for a meeting with the Prime Minister and Governor General and the leadership of the AFN to address the long-standing crisis associated with housing, health care and education in many Indigenous communities across Canada. Yesterday our Church sent a letter to the Prime Minister pleading that he meet with Chief Spence. We believe the consultation she calls for is entirely in keeping with Canada's endorsement of the U.N. declaration on the rights of Indigenous people and the call in the interim report of the TRC for renewed relations between the Government of Canada and Indigenous people. We believe Chief Spence's request is "righteous" and it is rooted in right relations and we ask the Prime Minister "to provide the leadership of grace and vision that will bring us all forward together."

"The wonders of his love" and "the glories of his righteousness" are at the heart of the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund. They are also at the heart of Communion-wide networks dedicated to family life, health care and the environment. "The wonders of his love" and "the glories of his righteousness" are at the heart of the church's efforts to confront bullying, to address gender-based violence, to stop the trafficking of men and women and children for the sex trade. "The wonders of his love" and "the glories of his righteousness" are at the heart of the church's prayers for Christians who are being persecuted in Nigeria and for Anglicans who are being harassed in Zimbabwe. They are at the heart of our prayers for peace for the people of Syria, Sudan and South Sudan, the D.R. Congo and Gaza.

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem," wrote the Psalmist. As we remember the Church's witness in Bethlehem, in the Holy City, throughout the Middle East, I rejoice in the Companion Relationship this diocese of Ottawa has with Jerusalem. I know your bishop was warmly welcomed as he addressed Synod at St. George's Cathedral last fall and I know Bishop Suheil is looking forward to his visit here later this year. I give thanks that at this time a Canadian priest is serving as chaplain to Bishop Suheil. Supported by the General Synod for a three-year term, the Rev. Canon John Organ brings a wealth of experience in Anglican ministry and in inter-faith relations. He has become a strong advocate for the ministry priorities of the diocese of Jerusalem — hospitality, health care, education and reconciliation. I am confident that John's capacity to tell the story of the Church's witness in the Holy Land will be a great asset in helping grow the newly constituted body known as the Canadian Companions of the Diocese of Jerusalem.

"The wonders of his love" and "the glories of his righteousness" are at the heart of our life together across the Anglican Communion. As last year's meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council reminded us yet again, relationships are important to us. We speak of the bonds of affection we share in the work of the gospel. "What we aspire to" writes the Archbishop of Canterbury "is not to be a federation of loosely connected and rather distant relatives who sometimes send Christmas cards to each other, but a true family and fellowship in which we share our hopes and know that we are responsible for each other's well being and integrity before God." As Archbishop Williams leaves the office of Archbishop of Canterbury, he speaks of "a great sense of thanksgiving and celebration for the many moments when the hidden Christ has shown his face for an instant in the holiness, the common witness, the service or the suffering of faithful Anglicans in so many places." He reminds us that "it is Christ who lives at the heart of our fellowship and renews it day by day."

As we give thanks for Rowan's ministry as a poet and priest, as a modern-day apostle and teacher of the faith, we look forward to the ministry of his successor, Bishop Justin Welby, who brings a unique set of gifts to this office. To his enthronement as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury on March 21st, I will carry the very best wishes of our Church in Canada and the assurance of our prayers. In all his many travels throughout the Anglican Communion and in all his endeavors to hold us together in a holy fellowship of truth and love in Christ, may he know daily the blessings of freshly fallen grace. Pray with me that through his ministry "the wonders of God's love" and "the glories of his righteousness" be known throughout the world.

Finally dear friends, I am pleased to note that in the spirit of Full Communion between our Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the General Synod and the National Convention will meet in Joint Assembly this July here in Ottawa. Through the theme "Together for the Love of the World" we seek to strengthen and stretch our common witness to the gospel within our Churches and within Canadian society at large. I am enormously grateful for all who are working so hard to welcome and host us and I ask your prayers for Bishop Susan Johnson and for me and for all the participants. May the "wonders of Christ's love" and "the glories of his righteousness" inspire the life and legacy of this Assembly for years to come.

As we enter this new year, let us bear in mind and heart the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "All over the world today people are asking ‘Where is the path to joy?' The Church of Christ answers loudly: ‘Jesus is our joy.'"


Source: Anglican Church of Canada