Good news from the Church of England

Thanks be to God!

Libby Lane, first female bishop, C of E

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-30974547

26 January 2015

The Church of England has consecrated its first female bishop during a ceremony at York Minster.

The Reverend Libby Lane, 48, has been ordained as the new Bishop of Stockport in front of more than 1,000 people.

The Church formally adopted legislation last November to allow women bishops, following decades of argument over women’s ordination.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who led the service, said he had been “praying and working for this day”.

During the two-hour service Dr Sentamu and other bishops laid their hands on Mrs Lane and prayed. This was followed by lengthy applause.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Opening Service

Jesus said to her: ‘Give me a drink’

Sunday, 18 January 2015, 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Anglican Cathedral.
135 Anderson Avenue, just east of Main Street, toward the Red River,
on the north side of St. John’s Park.
Street parking, all sides of property.

Bishop Don will preach.WOPCU 2015
Dean Paul will preside.
Ecumenical leaders will participate.
Ecumenical Choir will lead us in song, with
organ, piano, percussion, trumpet, and flute.
Reception to follow in the John West Hall.

ALL WELCOME IN THE NAME OF CHRIST, WHO ALONE MAKES US ONE.

A huge thank you to Fr. Robert Polz, RC Archdiocese of Winnipeg,
and the Rev. Deacon Michele Barr, ELCIC, for planning and leadership.

Money and the Church

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, THE REV. LAURA MARIE PIOTROWICZ

“I’m a priest serving a 6-point parish in the Diocese of Brandon. I consider church to be a verb, and I’m passionate about PWRDF, eco-theology, and social justice. I love travel, reading, canoeing, camping, gardening and cooking, playing with my dogs, and drinking good coffee.”  Ed. Note:  I’m pretty sure she also loves St. John’s Cathedral in Winnipeg.

From The Community, a conversation site of The Anglican Church of Canada:

The start of a new year often gets people thinking about money: budgets, financial planning, spending habits. We do it Budget, money in a jarpersonally, we do it in the church (God bless the treasurers preparing for Annual Meetings!); we look at ways we can (hopefully) balance the bottom line. It’s not usually fun, but it needs to be done.

So, especially in the time of budget setting and financial planning, I would challenge the whole church to be aware of its finances. Not to suggest that we all become financial wizards, but to at least have a working knowledge of our parish budgets. How much money do we bring in? What are our expenses? Do our expenditures reflect the values of the people?

Of course, discussing money makes many people uncomfortable. It can feel awkward, it goes against our cultural norm of greed and want. And we don’t need to broadcast who gives how much; but we do need a broad understanding.

And perhaps we need to be reminded that talking about money is not a strange thing. We all do it in our homes, many of us do it in our work, why not do it in the church?

Despite the discomfort, though, we should remember that money is not separate from our faith; it is a part of the journey. Jesus talked about money – a lot; the only thing he spoke of more was the kingdoms of heaven and hell. The bible references finances some 2300 times.

And how we spend our money shows where we put our priorities.

For many of us, our biggest expenses are housing, food, clothing. We want to be safe, warm, dry; we want to have good nutritious food in our bellies, we want to have adequate clothes on our backs. But how we meet those needs, and how we spend the rest of our money, is our decision. We can choose to be thrifty, we can choose to be extravagant. We can opt to carry large debts, we can opt to have large savings accounts. We can carefully follow a budget, we can carelessly lose track of where our money goes.

What we do with our money says a lot about who we are, and what our priorities are. But as the church, we are challenged to see the ministry opportunity in how we spend our money. Money ought not be simply an instrument with which to buy things, but an instrument through which we respond to God’s grace and love through our own generosity. That generosity should not be determined because someone else told us to give, but because (through our prayers) God had invited us to take part in God’s great works.

We, God’s chosen people, are encouraged to give, to tithe if we are able. While 10% is a lot, a friend of mine once said “God has given us EVERYTHING, in profound abundance. And God wants us to keep 90% of it.”

So as you consider your personal budget for the year, please also consider the budget in your place of worship and ministry. However you give, whatever you give, this needs to be talked about: not with the clergy, not with the treasurer, but with God. God has invited us all to be co-creators in God’s work, through the church. Please pray on how you will respond to that invitation in your own context!

The Baptism of Our Lord… So what’s that all about anyhow?

Genesis 1:1-5 & Mark 1:4-11
St. John’s Anglican Cathedral
Winnipeg, Manitoba

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

CREATION - Darkness covered the face of the deep-2

CHAOS AND DARKNESS EVERYWHERE, ALL EXISTENCE DEFINED AS ‘FORMLESS VOID’. I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT TO ME THAT SOUNDS A WHOLE LOT LIKE MUCH OF THE NEWS THESE DAYS: THE TERROR OF BLOODY MURDER IN GOD’S NAME IN PARIS…

Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good…

CREATION - Let there be light - ii

GOD IS AT WORK IN THE CHAOS, IN THE DARKNESS, IN THE FORMLESS VOID OF OUR OWN EMOTIONAL STORMS, WORKING AGAINST THE DEEP DARKNESS OF DESPAIR IN OUR OWN LIVES AND IN THE WORLD.

HOW?  IN WATER AND THE WORD…

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

Baptism of Jesus, water and light

THANKS BE TO GOD!

From the Dean’s Desk – 4th Sunday of Advent

Magnificat, illuminated manuscript-2

You have shown strength | with your arm;
     and scattered the proud in | their conceit,
casting down the mighty | from their thrones
     and lifting | up the lowly.
You have filled the hungry | with good things,
     and sent the rich | away empty.                        Luke 1:51-53


Sunday is the shortest day of the year.  At the Winter Solstice the night is longest, and the darkness is deepest.  For all of us who live in the northern hemisphere of our garden planet, it might be tempting to give in to despair, to hopelessness, to admit finally that the darkness is stronger than the light.

But the world is turning, and the light at the end of the tunnel is not a freight train.  Mary’s magnificent song, which we call the Magnificat – taken from the first word of the Latin text, Magnificat anima mea – reminds us in no uncertain terms that “the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not over come it.”

God is not content to leave us in the deep darkness of our own creation.  What a relief!  With the kind of week it’s been – siege in Sydney, bombs in Yemen killing sixteen schoolgirls, murderers in Peshawar slaughtering scores of children – that temptation to surrender to the power of darkness has been strong.  And the annual frenzy of buy, buy, buy, an attempt to dull the pain of a society which has lost its way, is not up to the job of shining true light in the darkness.  It can only cast the frantic glitter of millions of sparkling, shimmering artificial lights, which finally just shiver artificially in the darkness, as we long for real light to shine in the depths of our hearts.

But the world is turning.  God is at work in the Coming One, Jesus Christ and him crucified and risen, to turn the world not upside-down, but rightside-up.  The standards which we have used for so long to define ‘the real world’ are not God’s standards.  The system of idolatry by which millions are impoverished and a very few made fabulously rich is not God’s system.  No, all of this reveals a word which is grossly upside-down, completely against God’s desire in creation for a garden where all can share in God’s freely granted abundance.  All our fraudulent standards and our broken systems reveal a broken and wounded creation, captive to the power of sin and death.  That is the real world as it exists so painfully in all the headlines and fresh tragedies each day.  But that is not God’s desire, nor is it the divine dream.

Our Advent journey has been an opportunity to partake of that dream, and to breathe it in so deeply that it becomes part of our lives, of the very warp and woof of our real world.  God’s real world, the rightside-up real world, starts to break through when The Word becomes flesh in the fragile flesh of a newborn baby in a backwoods barn.  Mary’s song reveals the shape of that dream, and as Jesus grows in wisdom and stature so too does God’s dream become more clear, more bright, more focused.  That dream reached its most painful brilliance in the Cross and Resurrection, where the idol of human power and religion is stripped bare of all its disguises, and the world itself groans as it begins its roll back to upright and the new creation is begun.

Even through our bitter tears, and through the choking dust of the rubble of all our broken idols, we can see the Light shining in the darkness.  The love of God will not be defeated by all the hate and monstrous evil of humankind, not even the spiritual pus and deadly poison in each of us.  In Christ the coming one, God is our Saviour, and promises healing for the whole of creation.  In Christ the coming one the world is turning rightside-up again, and light and life are born anew each day in our own hearts and minds, in our lives and in our life together, as we allow Christ to be born in us.

 My soul proclaims the greatness | of the Lord,
     my spirit rejoices in | God my Savior…             Luke 1:46b-47

Magnificat, ErlanderThanks be to God!

Happy Hanukkah to our all our Jewish sisters and brothers, near and far!

 

Hanukkah Shameach, HBSo they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt-offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving-offering. They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and fitted them with doors. There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.

 Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.  (I Maccabees 4:55-59)

This year Hanukkah begins tonight (like all Jewish Holy-Days it is a lunar calculation, and so moves each year) at sundown, and ends at sundown on December 24th.  What a wonderful opportunity for us to wish a Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish neighbours, our sisters and brothers.  Jesus, his family, and all his first disciples were Jewish, of course, and would have celebrated this great feast of miracles.  In the Gospel of John it’s called ‘The Feast of the Dedication’.

Hanukkah-mantle-with-menorah-wine-and-hebrew-bible

Tonight, after sundown, all faithful Jews will begin the eight day feast with prayer and candle-lighting.  Tonight, and only tonight they will recite this prayer:

ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו, מלך העולם, שהחינו וקימנו והגענו לזמן הזה.‏

Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, she’heheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higi’anu la’z’man ha’ze.

Translation: “Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.”

The story of Hanukkah (From http://www.facenfacts.com/)

The festival reminds Jews of a time over 2500 years ago when Antiochus, a Syrian king, tried to make the Jewish people worship Greek gods. A statue of Antiochus was erected in the Jewish temple and the Jews were ordered to bow down before him. The Ten Commandments forbid Jews to worship statues or idols and so they refused.

A small group of Jews called Maccabees rebelled, and after a three year war they recaptured Jerusalem from the Syrians. But the temple was all but destroyed.

The Jews had to clean and repair the Temple, and when they were finished they rededicated it to God. They did this by lighting the lamp (Menorah) – which was a symbol of God’s presence. Only one small jar of oil was found, enough for one day, but miraculously the lamp stayed alight for eight days.

How is Hanukkah celebrated today? Hanukkah, Dreidel

Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting one candle on the Hanukiah (an eight-stemmed candelabrum) each day.

The Hanukkah Menorah symbolises how God looked after the Jewish people at this difficult time.

Games are often played at Hanukkah. The most common game uses a dreidel and is a popular way of helping children to remember the great miracle.

Hanukkah, menorah and dove, ChagallBest wishes one and all, Jewish kindred, in Winnipeg, in Israel, and around the world,
for these Holy Days then, as together we give thanks for the saving acts of the Holy One, blessed be G-d’s name!

 

 

 

Christmas Message 2014 from the World Council of Churches General Secretary

From the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit:

Adoration of the Magi, He QiDear friends and companions on the journey:

I greet you in the name of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! May the blessing of this season of advent – of expectation – be realized in your homes and your communities, and particularly in the lives of those who have to leave their homes in times like this.

This is a time when we are all called to look forward to more abundant expressions of the loving purposes of God:

“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)

 

Read the full message here.

If you wish to listen to Olav read his message, please click here.

Watch the WCC Christmas Video here.

From the Dean’s Desk – 3rd Sunday of Advent

Jesus in the BreadlineThe spirit of the Lord GOD is upon [us],
because the LORD has anointed [us];
he has sent [us] to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners…                                     Isaiah 61:1

Jesus came by for a visit on Wednesday night, and he brought some friends with him too, seven or eight hundred, actually.  And it was wonderful.

IMG_5639

You may recognize the verse above from Isaiah; Jesus quotes it as his own mission statement when he begins his ministry after his baptism, in Luke 4.  It is, therefore, also our mission statement.  Indeed, it belongs to all the baptized, who have put on Christ crucified and risen as our life’s garment.

IMG_5648Wednesday evening, December 10th, was the Annual North End Family Centre. Christmas Party, the third year we have hosted it.  Although quite lively, to put it mildly, it was a great evening, full of the presence of Christ in all who came, and in all who hosted.  Thank you to all from St. John’s who were out and helped in any way!  You were the welcoming presence of Christ in this place for the Christ who came in from the cold that night, young and old, who stood outside, waiting to get in, mostly poor people who came for an evening they would not have had otherwise, mostly aboriginal, many of whom walked or rode the bus to get here.

(The LORD has anointed [us];)                            
to provide for those who mourn in [Winnipeg] —
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.                Isaiah 61:3

All the work, all the hours, all the running up and down stairs, all the cleaning up of messes, all the extra light and heat, all the extra garbage, all of it, all was worthwhile to see the smiles in the faces of the children, the children who stood in line for up to an hour to receive one new toy, and a small package of candy.  You would have thought they had received the world, they were so happy.

 

NEFC Xmas 2012 And even though we ran out of food, after the first four hundred received a modest ‘feast’ of Subway sandwich and chips and a pop, and again after the next two hundred and forty received one slice of pizza each, even then almost all the guests were polite and dignified and grateful for the evening.  Old women with grandchildren, young mothers with several kids, young fathers, and kids, kids, and more kids, were all grateful and patient and, almost without exception, thanked all the hosts and wished us all a cheerful ‘Merry Christmas!’.

Yes, Jesus came by for a visit last Wednesday, and brought a bunch of friends!  Thankfully, he also found many friends here to greet him.

As we complete our Advent journey, and move on and through Christmas itself, let’s remember Jesus’ mission statement, and ours as well.  Let’s work always to keep Christ in Christmas!  How?  Well, think about these things, and maybe read Matthew 25 again:  Feed the hungry (Winnipeg Harvest), give clean, safe water to th thirsty (Shoal Lake n.40 First Nation), welcome the stranger (NEFC Community Christmas Party!), provide clothing for those who need it (Charlie Brown Tree), take care of the sick (Pastoral Care Teams), visit those in prison (Anglican Chaplaincy).  Obviously there are many other ways as well, many other opportunities for all his disciples to work with Jesus to bring in the Kingdom, a kingdom where all can share in God’s abundance, a kingdom where all can live in justice with peace for the whole creation.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!  Thanks be to God!

From the Dean’s Desk… Second Sunday in Advent

Saint Nicholas, the truth about Santa - bannerDecember 6th is the Feast of Saint Nicholas.  We are pretty certain that he existed, and he was quite possibly a bishop in the early church, in what is now Turkey.  Beyond that, though, well, there are many wonderful stories.  All of the stories are about a faithful disciple of Christ, who lives the love of Jesus.  Coca-Cola Santa Claus?  Maybe not…  Consider what The Encyclopædia Britannica has to say:

Saint Nicholas and gift giving in Europe“Saint Nicholas, also called Nicholas of Myra    (flourished 4th century, Myra, Lycia, Asia Minor [near modern Kale (Demre), Turkey]; feast day December 6), one of the most popular minor saints commemorated in the Eastern and Western churches and now traditionally associated with the festival of Christmas. In [Holland, Germany, and Switzerland especially] children receive gifts on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day.

“Nicholas’s existence is not attested by any historical document, so nothing certain is known of his life except that he was probably bishop of Myra in the 4th century. According to tradition, he was born in the ancient Lycian seaport city of Patara, and, when young, traveled to Palestine and Egypt. He became bishop of Myra soon after returning to Lycia. He was imprisoned during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Diocletian but was released under the rule of Emperor Constantine the Great and [legend says] attended the first Council (325) of Nicaea. He was buried in his church at Myra, and by the 6th century his shrine there had become well-known.

st-nicholas-givingdowrytothreepoorgirls-fra-angelico“Nicholas’s reputation for generosity and kindness gave rise to legends of miracles he performed for the poor and unhappy. He was reputed to have given marriage dowries of gold to three girls whom poverty would otherwise have forced into lives of prostitution [. His legend says that he gave the gold secretly, by throwing bags of coins through the house window, or, another version, dropped the bags down the chimney. Legend also says that he] restored to life three children who had been chopped up by a butcher and put in a tub of brine. In the Middle Ages, devotion to Nicholas extended to all parts of Europe. He became the patron saint of Russia and Greece; of charitable fraternities and guilds; of children, sailors, unmarried girls, merchants, and pawnbrokers; and of such cities as Fribourg, in Switzerland, and Moscow.

“After the Reformation, devotion to Nicholas disappeared in [most] Protestant countries of Europe except Holland, where his legend persisted as Sinterklaas (a Dutch variant of the name Saint Nicholas). Dutch colonists took this tradition with them to New Amsterdam (now New York City) in the American colonies in the 17th century. Sinterklaas was adopted by the country’s English-speaking majority under the name Santa Claus, and his legend of a kindly old man was united with old Nordic folktales of a magician who punished naughty children and rewarded good children with presents. The resulting image of Santa Claus in the United States crystallized in the 19th century, and he has ever since remained the patron of the gift-giving festival of Christmas.”

Saint Nicholas to Sinter Klass to SantaSo one who began his life after death as a devout Christian, wearing a Bishop’s tall red mitre, and giving secretly to the poor, evolved much later into a patron, note, not patron saint, but patron, of ‘the gift-giving festival’ of Christmas.  Christmas is indeed a gift-giving festival, but it is God who is the gift-giver in Christ, whose Good News makes it clear that God does not keep score as we are tempted to do. Christmas is about God’s generosity which we are called to share, especially with the poor and all those in any need, all year round.  Whose birthday is it anyway? For now our Advent journey continues. Thanks be to God!