From the Dean’s Desk

those who seek Christ also find wisdom, God’s wisdom of love beyond imagining and peace beyond understanding

The Epiphany of Our Lord serves as bridge between the birth of Christ and his Passion.  The Epiphany itself (January 6) is an ancient celebration that originally drew together several themes:  The birth of Jesus, the coming of the Magi (the wise ones from the east), the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, and his first miracle at Cana, and is almost certainly older than Christmas as we know it.  The colour for Epiphany and the days following, through the Baptism of our Lord (the first Sunday after the Epiphany, this year 13 January), remains white, a continuation of the Christmas spirit and mood.  In the weeks that follow, a transitional time, the colour is green, not associated with any specific festival, and so called Ordinary Time, but green suggesting spiritual growth.  Transfiguration Sunday is the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and the colour is again white, a reminder of the blazing glory seen on the mountaintop.

The Magi came to see the King of kings, and they brought three gifts, which is how the legend developed with three wise men from the East; three gifts, three Magi.  Maybe you’ve heard, or read, or even seen on a bumper sticker:  Wise Men Still Seek Him.  Well, it’s true, except that it’s more inclusive than that, and, I would add, those who seek Christ also find wisdom, God’s wisdom of love beyond imagining and peace beyond understanding.  Dear friends, may the light of Christ shining in the star of Epiphany enlighten your lives with that wisdom and that peace.  Thanks be to God!

From the Dean’s Desk

Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas, the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, lasts for twelve days, from December 25 (beginning with the communion services of Christmas Eve – the Mass of Christ) through Twelfth Night, January 5 (January 6 is the Feast of the Epiphany).


Did you know?

The Real Meaning of The Twelve Days of Christmas,
the Carol?

from The Lutheran Digest

From 1558 until 1829 Roman Catholic Christians in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly.  Someone during that long era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young members of the church.  Each verse in the song is code for a truth of the faith which the children could then remember.

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ.
The two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments.
Three French hens stand for faith, hope, and love.
The four calling birds are the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The five golden rings recall the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.
The six geese-a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The eight maids-a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
The ten lords-a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
Eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful disciples.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve items of faith in the Apostles’ Creed.

So, dear friends, Merry Christmas!  The world may have moved on, but the church is still in party mode, celebrating the joyful mystery of the Incarnation, God’s living Word, Jesus Christ.  Rejoice!  Christ is born!

From the Dean’s Desk…

On Saturday, 11 August, I had the rare privilege of spending the whole day at the Anglican Church of Canada’s National Sacred Circle in Pinawa, Manitoba. The Circle is usually held every three years or so, in different places across the country, and there were well over two hundred indigenous Anglicans in attendance from all over Canada, and special guests from New Zealand Aotearoa, the USA, inluding Hawaii, and Cuba.

It was a joy to be invited, and an even greater joy to be there for that last day of the week-long event. Local Anglicans were involved, of course, including the Rev. Barbara Shoomski, the Rev. Canon Murray Still, the Rev. Deacon Vincent Solomon, the Rev. Barry Bear and his wife and partner in ministry, Freda Bear, the inimitable and indomitable Sylvia James, as well as a number of others. I also got to meet and get at least a little acquainted with aboriginal Anglicans from all across this great land of Canada, from Quebec and Ontario to BC and the northern Territories. There were Cree, naturally, but also Inuit and Mohawk and Blackfoot and Ojibwe and many others, some of whom could not speak English, but they are all Canadians, all Anglicans, and, most importantly, all Christian.

My overall experience was of a deeply caring, beautifully committed gathering of Christian sisters and brothers. Oh, yes, they have their differences too, even their energetic differences on matters of policy and practice, but the strength and joy of real Christian community shone through. I can’t go into detail here, but, suffice it to say, I’m glad I was able to go and be an involved observer; I give thanks to God for another opportunity to experience this part of the church we call Anglican.

If you have the capability, I encourage you to go to YouTube and see the many good, short videos available there. Anglican Video did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the week. If you check out the one on Canon 22 you might even see your Dean singing and clapping, and greeting both the Primate, our ++Fred, and the ELCIC National Bishop, Susan Johnson.

See the videos here:  Anglican Church of Canada National Sacred Circle.

From the Dean’s Desk

The idea of regular time off finds its roots in the bible, and is offered by God not as a suggestion, but as a commandment.

Summer is fully upon us.  We’ve had one long hot spell, and are now smack in the middle of another one.  If we are blessed with meaningful and rewarding work, hopefully we are also blessed with vacation time.  Many of us are also blessed with weekends or other days off.  All of this is a fairly recent development in the history of human civilization and labour.  Much of the credit must go to the churches and also to unions.  Ultimately, though, credit and thanks must go to our Jewish sisters and brothers and most especially to the one God, loving Creator, who is the object of our worship and adoration, and, hopefully, the focus of our lives and our life together.

The idea of regular time off from work finds its roots in the biblical books of Exodus (20.8-11) and Deuteronomy (5.12-15), and is offered by God not as a suggestion, but as a command(ment):  Shabbat, or sabbath rest.  Ancient, and not-so-ancient, societies had no such customs, including European society; it was only in the modern age that first part of a day, then a whole day, and finally a ‘weekend’, became reality for most working people.  Of course, in other parts of the world, and more and more again in our own, where people can’t make enough on one job, regular time off is only a dream.

It is God’s desire that we get enough rest and relaxation. 
Part of God’s desire is also that we use some of that time for worship in community.

It is God’s desire, for all, including animals in service to people, that we get enough rest and relaxation.  Part of God’s desire is also that we use some of that time for worship in community, but as Christians in society we have to recognize also, always, that people deserve fair return for their labour (cf. Deut. 24.14-15; Jer. 22.13; Mal. 3.5; Rom. 4.4), which, in the eyes of God includes regular time off work.  Those of us who have it, including the retired who have enough to live with dignity, if not in luxury, give thanks to God for yet another expression of that amazing grace which is revealed so clearly in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

Enjoy your holidays, those weekends at the lake, regular days off, relaxing evenings, however your sabbath comes and however you take it, but give thanks always to God for every good and perfect gift, for gift it is, one our ancestors dared not dream about and did not have.  Oh, and one other thing, which our ancestors did know:  Church is still on, every Sunday, all summer long, here at the Cathedral, but also in other churches, Anglican or Lutheran or whatever, pretty much everywhere your summer travels may take you.  “Worship the Lord with gladness; come into God’s presence with singing!”  (Ps. 100.2)

From the Dean’s Desk…

Happy Canada Day to one and all!

As Christians we gather on Sunday, every Sunday, to celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord, of course, but, on this day of national thanksgiving, it is right to give thanks to God for the blessings we have as citizens of this amazing nation called Canada.  We are richly, wonderfully blessed, and like every blessing it is not for us to claim the blessing as ours alone and try to exclude all others, however we may do that.  Cf. Genesis 12.2

After we thank God, we need to be aware of what our First Nations sisters and brothers have contributed to making this country what it is today:  Everything they had and pretty much everything they were.  There are not Two Founding Nations of Canada; there were scores, if not hundreds, plus the two latecomers.  I hope when we all say, je me souviens, that we remember a greater truth than the betrayal and sacrifice of New France (Quebecby Imperial France in favour of Martinique; may we always remember what all the native peoples of this Turtle Island upon which we live have sacrificed to make Canada and the USA and Mexico possible, and give thanks with very humble hearts.

Here are couple of Bible readings for Canada Day, and for every day.  How are we doing in the sight of God?  Especially when we consider the poor, the homeless, the prisons full of Aboriginal people, and far too many others in dire straits right here in Winnipeg and across the land? 

Isaiah 10.1-2:  “Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!”

Celebrate today and tomorrow, give thanks, absolutely!  But, again, think about this verse from Micah, 6.8:  “[God] has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”   Canada is still an experiment, no guarantees.  Let’s work together to make sure that it succeeds in the long run.

I am honoured, delighted, and very grateful that I have the privilege of being Canadian.
Happy Canada Day to one and all!  Thanks be to God!

From the Dean’s Desk…

What is a Sacred Circle anyhow?

And a Diocesan Sacred Circle at that?
On Saturday, a week ago, it was my privilege and my joy to participate in this year’s Diocesan Sacred Circle at the Old Stone Church of St. Peter, north of Selkirk, on the east side of the Red River, where Chief Peguis and his people originally lived.

Our emcee for the day was Tina Keeper (Yes, that Tina Keeper), daughter of the Rev. Canon Dr. Phyllis Keeper, who was our preacher for the afternoon Eucharist.  Phyllis glows with the presence of Christ.

The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, was our preacher for morning worship, and participated in several ways throughout the day.  He honoured us with a big part of his personal journey of faith; he is a leader of great integrity who lives his discipleship with great clarity.

Honoured that day were a number of residential school survivors, including the Rev. Canon Barry Bear and his wife and partner in ministry, Freda, who is also an Elder.  The theme of the day was reconciliation, and Christ the Reconciler was evident throughout.  At the end of the day’s holy business we shared in the Feast of Reconciliation, at the Table of the Lord Jesus, with Bishop Don presiding.

Then, to end our amazing day together, we shared in a feast feast, in Christian parlance, the Love Feast.  I have never eaten so much pickerel (Walleye to our American friends…) in my life.  What joy, what bliss!  Thanks be to God!  And thanks very much to the Rev. Canon Dr. Murray Still, and everyone who made the Sacred Circle a reality.

Kinanâskomitinawaw.  Miigwech.  Mahsi’ choo.  Ahéhee’.

From the Dean’s Desk… Sunday, June 17

It’s been a wonderful week on the Winnipeg River.

Actually, it’s only been a couple of days so far, and we come home on Friday, but it’s been and is a real blessing.  All the clerics — priests and deacons — of Rupert’s Land are here at Pinawa for the annual Residential Study Conference, this year along with all the professional leaders — pastors, diaconal ministers, youth ministers — of the ELCIC Manitoba Northwestern Ontario Synod, and we are having a splendid week together, living out the reality of our Waterloo relationship, Full Communion.

The presenter, who has now shared six of his seven sessions with us, the Rev. Dr David Lose of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, has been lively, engaging, and challenging, has blessed us with hearty grist for the conversational mills, in one way or another talking about the importance of story in our life of faith, especially THE story which brings us all together in Christ.

We have enjoyed morning and evening prayer in both the Anglican and the Lutheran traditions, great conversation around meals together, and even times in a canoe, celebrating the beauty of God’s good creation in the garden entrusted to us, this spectacular garden we call Earth.

Despite our occcasional frustrations, our real questions, and our sometimes weariness, it’s good to realize againt that the church is the body of Christ, and, as such, belongs to Christ, not to us. Our communion is real, and this week, as Anglicans and Lutherans together in a new way, we are living it up, giving thanks to God for yet another gift.  I am so grateful to Christ and his calling, to me, for sure, but to all of us, a baptismal vocation, or calling, which transcends our petty labels.  Amazing grace.

Thanks be to God!

From the Dean’s Desk… 27 May 2012, The Feast of Pentecost

It’s the birthday of the church of Jesus Christ!

It’s Pentecost, the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of Our Lord, the birthday of the church of Jesus Christ, the joyful anniversary of the giving of the Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate with both Sacraments, our weekly meal of sustenance and strength for service as disciples, the Holy Eucharist, and also the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, the gift of God in the waters of death and life which brings us into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, beginning our life as disciples of the Crucified and Risen One. Baptized today, a new sister and brother in Christ, are Andrew Micheal Sampson and Emily Anne Faethe Carroll.

I rejoice that I can celebrate all of this with you today, and give thanks that I am able to take the next two weeks off as holiday, spending at least part of that time in Minnesota with Melanie’s family.

Her mom, Cynthia, is in hospital recovering from a broken hip, hip replacement surgery, and pneumonia. I will be back here at work on Sunday, June 10th. In the interim the Venerable David Pate will be on call strictly for emergencies, essentially dying and death. God forbid that we should need him. David has also graciously agreed to preach and preside at both services, next Sunday, June 3rd. Thank you, David!

From the Dean’s Desk… Sunday, 20 May, Seventh Sunday of Easter

Christ is risen!  Yes, still, and always, but today we journey still in the great Week of weeks, celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord and the invincible hope that is ours, because we are joined to his death and the New Creation in the waters of life and death, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.  Easter is 49 days long; the 50th day, or in Greek, Pentecost, is next Sunday, when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church of Jesus Christ, of which the Anglican Communion is one expression.  Because it’s Pentecost, and we have two children to be baptized, we will also celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism, the beginning of our life in Christ, along with our regular but always special celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the sustaining of our life in Christ.

Another sign of and opportunity for growth as disciples is community study of the Scriptures, often called ‘Bible Study.’  We already have a regular Friday morning study which begins at 10 a.m. and is done by noon, and all are welcome to that; we normally study the scriptures assigned for the coming Sunday, and the conversation is always lively, engaging and respectful. However, you should be warned that we also laugh and great deal, and we always have a time of prayer at the end of our study.

New Evening Bible Study

For those who can’t come during the day, we have a new and exciting offering: Ian Stewart has taken the lead, after consultation with me, in beginning a new evening Bible study this coming Thursday, 24 May, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. here at the Cathedral.  Again, all are welcome; it’s not a youth study, or a study for seniors, it’s a Bible study for disciples of all ages and experience in the church. Come if you can, if you’re interested at all, this just might be for you. (NB:  If you do come, please be sure to go to the office door to enter the Cathedral.) Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church, this church we call St. John’s, and that part of the church which is each one of you  who reads this. It will be an adventure for sure; the group will begin with St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.  Come if you dare!  It just might change your life, and it will certainly change our life together.  Thanks be to God!

From the Dean’s Desk: Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Easter

Happy Mothers Day!  To all mothers, and to all children… Happy Easter!  Christ is risen…  Today is the Sixth Sunday the Season of Easter, 49 days from the Easter Vigil to the Day of Pentecost. And yes, there is a connection…

God’s love abides, and we can abide in that love, even when mothers and everyone and everything else fails.

Today’s Gospel is all about love, perfect love, the love of Christ. I thank God that my own mother (and father) taught me about this love, Her love is amazing, but, she’d be the first to remind me, not perfect. And not everyone has now or has ever had a loving mother, tragically. The deepest love of the very best mother is a gift, straight from God, and we should always give thanks if we have been so blessed, but God’s love abides, and we can abide in that love, even when mothers and everyone and everything else fails.

There is no perfect mother; you probably know that by now, even all the mothers among us, maybe especially you. God bless you one and all, but for all of us, no matter what happens — and even the best mother dies — the love of God in Christ Jesus abides, and we are invited, welcome, to abide, remain, continue, stay put, in that love which is rich beyond our imagination but as close as our own heart.