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’.


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.


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!

From the Dean’s Desk… Advent One

Son of Man coming in clouds, Helen SieglBeware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.  Mk 13:33

Happy New Year!  I guess…  Advent is the beginning of the Church Year, the liturgical calendar, and traditionally understood as a time of preparation for Christmas.  But, it’s not quite that simple, or easy.

Every store, the entire commercial world, is more than ready.  Every possible medium of mass communication is saturated with messages carefully crafted to tug at our heartstrings and then at our pockets and purses, to tug money out of them.  The ‘Coming One’ has already come, with the Santa Claus Parade the Saturday after Remembrance Day, and is now ruthlessly exploited to squeeze as many dollars as possible out of everyone, including those who can’t afford to spend anything, but feel compelled to do so anyhow.

So what about us?  How are we feeling, and what on earth – or not – is Jesus talking about in his stern words from the Gospel?  Now it’s Mark’s Gospel, which will be our main source for the coming year, during Year B of the three year lectionary (four assigned readings for each Sunday) which is our discipline in the Anglican Church of Canada, and in many other churches also, including our Full Communion partner the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

Beware!  Keep alert!  Keep awake!  Keep awake!

Yes, Advent is a time to prepare for Christmas, and the celebration of the Word made flesh in the helpless baby of Bethlehem, whose family would soon become homeless refugees, but Christmas itself, the whole Feast of twelve days, is really a time of preparation for the rest of the story.  The helpless human baby will grow up, the wood of the manger will take another form as, eventually, that baby, named Y’shua (or Joshua, or Jesus) becomes the helpless man nailed to a cross.  All the tinsel and shiny globes and bright lights in the world cannot make this tree beautiful.  What will make it beautiful, though, is the light of God’s love shining so brightly in the suffering servant who is obedient unto death, even death on a cross, for our sake, and the sake of all.

Can we handle this, when the rest of the world – at least our part of it – is urging us into an orgy of materialism and self-idolatry?  To do so, we are invited to journey together in the Spirit of the Servant Christ, in prayer, in reflection, in worship, in service, disciples together of Jesus.  To make this journey of preparation for service in the Reign of God, Jesus himself invites us, strongly, urgently:Son of Man coming in clouds, Durer woodcut

Therefore, keep awake — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”  Mark 13:35-37

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles at St. John’s Cathedral for Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday, Cpl. Kyle Hall lays a wreath at the RWR Memorial, St. John's Cathedral ChurchyardSt. John’s Rector and Dean of Rupert’s Land, The Very Rev. Paul N. Johnson, said both soldiers were mentioned by name during the prayers, which featured the Rifles’ regimental band throughout the service. “It’s a privilege to have this service — every year they come and we remember, with them — it’s a special day,” Johnson said. “But it’s more poignant this year. Everything is still fresh in people’s minds about both here and overseas. But we even pray for our enemies, as we are called to do, and we pray for peace, which every soldier wants.”

Please read the full story here.

Remembrance Sunday at St. John’s Cathedral

CPC MP Joy Smith and PNJ-2We had another great Remembrance Sunday service with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles Band, and other members. We had some visitors too, of course, including first time visitor today MP Joy Smith, one of our local MPs. Joy serves the people of Kildonan-St. Paul (east and west) Riding. She also has done an extraordinary amount of great work in fighting human trafficking, through The Joy Smith Foundation, as well as in the Parliament of Canada. Thank you, Joy!

Remembrance Sunday at the Cathedral: November 9th, 2014

Remembrance, Canada - We Remember

Join us for worship at 10:30 a.m. The Regimental Band of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles — gazetted in 1883 and associated with this Cathedral since — will be with us, playing prelude, postlude, and several hymns. Parade to the Regimental Memorial follows immediately, with coffee, tea, cakes, and fellowship in the John West Hall to follow that. The Director of the Band is 2nd Lt. Ryan Wehrle. Welcome Rifles, welcome all!

Address: 135 Anderson Avenue, just off north Main, north of St. John’s Park, east toward the River, street parking.

RWR band march 2008 SJAC