From Rev. Rob
Back-to-school time stirs up so many thoughts and emotions in my family. I’m sure everyone has memories of their own back-to-school experiences as a child, some positive; some maybe not so great.
I remember laying awake the night before the first day of school wondering who my teacher would be (we didn’t find out until we walked into school that first morning!) and worrying about whether or not any of my friends would be in my class.
It always seemed to turn out alright though, even if I didn’t get the “nice” teacher, and by the end of the first day of school I’d reconnected with old friends and managed to make some new ones.
When a child is baptized and welcomed into the Christian family of God, promises are made by the community to support the newly baptized in their life in Christ. (Book of Alternative Services page 155) One way we support our children is to pray for them and with them. Here’s a prayer litany I really like. I invite you to live out your baptismal promises and join me in keeping students, teachers and all involved in education forefront in your prayer life! Do you know a student you can pray with? If not, pray this on behalf of a child in our parish or a child you may know!
We give you praise, O God,
for everything that is new and beautiful,
for everything which holds promise and brings us joy. Bless us as we start this new year with our friends and teachers
Help us to make the most of every chance we have to start afresh.
May we show love to one another and to all.
May the new beginning of this school year remind us that you give us chances to start over again and again. Help us to forgive others
as we receive your forgiveness.
Help us to learn and to work together.
Help us to listen when we should and to know the best words when we speak
and when it is better not to speak.
We thank you for our friends
Help us to be good friends this year.
Help us to be patient with ourselves and with others.
Bless our school and keep us safe.
Be with us as we travel each day. Help us to be aware of your love
shown to us in the people around us.
And help us to live as well as we can.
I have attended, participated, chaired and been a spectator at more church meetings than I can count. I’ve walked away from many of those meetings hopeful, confused, excited, frustrated and even ambivalent. Until Friday night, I’ve never shed a tear. When the motion to change our Canons to allow same sex marriage failed, I shed that tear. A tear for the pain our LBQTQ+2 brothers and sisters who felt once again the church they commit to would not commit to them. A tear for our youth who cannot for the life of them understand why this is an issue in their church. A tear for a church who despite so much talk so often cannot walk the walk. The sounds of crying and stunned silence were palpable. And I was lying in my bed watching it all from an iPad! I’ve now spoken to a few people who were there, and they said it was like nothing they’d ever experienced at a church gathering. I immediately thought of Jesus words in Luke’s gospel, “As Jesus came near and saw Jerusalem, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” We had an opportunity to be the loving and affirming Body of Christ we always say we want to be, and a few bishops chose otherwise. I get it. We all don’t agree on whether same sex marriages should be made legal in the Anglican Church of Canada. I doubt we will ever come to consensus on that. But God never asked us to agree on legalities. God calls us to live together with our differences and to be the voice and example in the world that exemplifies love and acceptance despite the differences. Why do we get so focused on what the needs of the rule book and fail to see the needs of human beings?! This was where I was Friday night and most of the weekend.
Its been 5 days since that night, and with most things the shock has subsided, and a bigger picture has emerged. When all the smoke cleared, what came out of that painful moment was something that I believe is new and favourable for all. The big picture is this.
- 76% of delegates, laity, clergy and bishops, voted in favour of the motion to allow same sex marriage.
-the document A Word to the Church (https://www.anglican.ca/news/a-word-to-the-church-considering-the-proposed-amendment-ofmarriage-canon-xxi/30023889/)was accepted by 80% of the church. This document allows for a local option so that Diocesan bishops that want to have something available for equal marriage can do so. Clergy will have the option to officiate or not.
-Bishops from across the Canadian church have now put out statements to allow same sex marriage in their dioceses.
In the Diocese of Huron, we are awaiting word from our Bishop. Due to the fact that Bishop Linda was elected to become Primate in the Anglican Church of Canada means we may have to wait a bit longer. I am confident it will be done, and equal marriage will be a part of our life here in Huron. Some have asked my feeling toward that as a priest. I am in favour and if the option was made available, I would officiate at a same sex marriage and give the same thought and discernment as I do with any couple that come to me to receive the sacrament of marriage. To those in the LBGTQ+2 community who have been harmed this past week, you are loved. You are as much a part of this community as anyone else. You will be affirmed by this priest in the community I serve. I call upon all of us to reach out to those who feel the church has hurt them or abandoned them or not been conscious of their pain and affirm your love for them. Surely, we can join hands and walk forward together despite our differences! “They will know your are my disciples by your love.” Jesus said that. I think He meant it. I am convinced it is the only way we can walk forward.
Finally, let’s not forget the new life that came out of this General Synod.
We have set up an autonomous indigenous church as an act of reconciliation and support for the spiritual journey of our indigenous brothers and sisters.
The Anglican Church has passed resolutions to powerfully build a more positive relationship with our Muslim and our Jewish brothers and sisters.
To top it all off we can celebrate the first female Primate (Head) of the Anglican Church of Canada with the election of our own Bishop Linda Nicholls!
What I in my frailty and often blindness came to see over the course of the last week (Thanks be to God) is that Holy Spirit was a work all the time renewing, bringing life and healing our church so that we can come back to the table together and become the people God has called us to become. There is much to celebrate in the church and we all have more work to do. Let’s not forget that we are loved, worthy and invited by God to bring about the kingdom Jesus made known to us. The world may need us now more than ever.
A visitor on Easter Sunday told me that Easter was their favorite day of the year. I asked, “Why is that?”. They said, “Well with all the sadness in the world I think we deserve one day of happy news!” I couldn’t agree more. Except that having one day a year to celebrate happy news seems a bit defeatist. Why settle for one day? At Easter we proclaim that in the resurrection of Jesus, God has conquered sin and death forever. So why not see that proclamation everyday? As the angel said to the women at the tomb, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” In other words, if you’re always staring into a tomb, of course all you will only see is death! So, look for the living! The good news is that Easter is not just one day. Easter is a season that lasts for 7 weeks. So lets make it our objective to look for life. Where do you see life? Where do you see the signs of the kingdom near you? How are you pointing it out to others? Here’s a wonderful poem I found that helps me to see life everyday. I hope it helps you too. Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.
Everything is thank you if you look carefully.
The trees that lose their leaves still raise their limbs.
The earth farewells the sun and moves around again.
Those we love draw tears and smiles from us in unison.
Everything is grace and begins again.
We know this because each new day speaks of redemption.
Because Peter denied his friend and was forgiven.
Because the sleep that restores us, in a small way reflects the resurrection.
Each small death, brings life, and each gift of surrender, is an offering.
A down payment for the new day coming.
For every Friday is followed by a Sunday.
And every empty grave formerly held something.
Yes everything is thank you if you look carefully.
Everything in nature, love and life reveals the resurrection.
He who bore our sin, pain and grief lives again.
And our cross, so hard to bear we find lifts us to heaven.
Yes everything that happens we can thank him. For we know our story lives in his, without an ending.
Ana Lisa de Jong
For now the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.
Song of Solomon 2:11-13 (NRSV)
As I write this reflection I am staring at the remnants of a long cold winter. Dirty brown piles of snow sit at the end of the driveway. A plastic grocery bag hangs on a tree branch for dear life flapping in the wind. My salt coated winter boots sit by the garage door next to the snow shovel as a reminder of what these past months have been. Then I read this passage from the Song of Solomon and I ask, “Is it safe to celebrate spring? Am I living in a reasonable hope that the winter is past and that there is warmth and new life about to spring forth? Or am I setting myself up for disappointment only to be pulled back into the biting wind on my face? I’m probably being a bit over dramatic here, but those of us who live in this unpredictable climate know full well how we can get excited about spring only to be reminded that mother nature can still pack a punch if she wants to.
Our walk with God can seem similar. Are we living in a reasonable hope that the world God loves will be redeemed? Are the signs of the reign of God that Jesus says to look for really among us; or are we just setting ourselves up for another disappointment. We know our world is vulnerable and often times unstable, so maybe its best just to wait for another blast and accept the possibility that it will probably turn bad once again?
These are the questions we carry into holy week. Just as the disciples did when the hope they found in Jesus ended up on a cross. Just as the women did when they came to anoint a body inside a tomb? It’s OK for us to wonder, to wrestle, to doubt because it is our nature to do so. Yet while we do, let’s do so in the knowledge that the God who created us for himself has something to say to us in our doubt and in our angst. Let’s walk this holy week road with an awareness that God may want to spoil our expectations and break through our uncertainty with something new for us. Stay tuned. A new season is about to come!
Welcome to 2019! I hope the Christmas Season was a blessing to you and your family. I’d like to say a special thank you for the many cards and gifts received these past weeks. Margie and I are so appreciative of your generosity and we enjoyed celebrating the gift of Emmanuel with you. I write these words on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6). The first reading from our liturgy that day is from the prophet Isaiah. Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Through the birth of Jesus and with the celebration of Epiphany, we acknowledge that we are the people on whom a great light has shone. The image of the magi and their journey to Jesus figures prominently at Epiphany. Tradition holds that the wise men did not stay with the holy family after their visit. We don’t exactly know which way they went but Matthew’s gospel says they went home “by another way”. But they certainly didn’t stay. As we look upon the manger one final time this year, we know we cannot stay there either. Like the magi, we too are called to move away and take the light of Jesus with us. Arise, shine; for your light has come! We are asked not only to admire the light, but to be people of light. The light of the Epiphany is given to us as a gift, but we cannot keep it to or for ourselves. This is an image I hope our parish can carry into 2019. As we move away from the manger, and move forward with the gift of the light of Christ, which way will we go? At our Vestry meeting on January 27th, we will be presented with a way forward in the updated Mission and Ministry Plan. In this plan we will highlight ways that we, as a community of faith, can carry the light of Christ through Discipleship, Evangelism, Outreach, Service, the Transforming of Society, Renewing the Earth and learning to be good Stewards of all that God has given to us. Arise, shine; for your light has come! I hope you will come and engage in this important aspect of our parish life together. To quote Bishop Desmond Tutu, “Do what you can do where you are, and God will surprise you!” Are you up for a surprise this year? Let’s go!
In the Light of Christ
re to edit.
If there was one gift, I could give everyone in the Parish this holy season it would be a book by my favorite spiritual writer Henry Nouwen book. (Perhaps you could treat yourself and slip one under the tree and open it up Christmas morning and yell “Thanks Rev. Rob!) In Finding My Way Home, Henry writes:
“I have found it very important in my own life to try to let go of my wishes and instead to live in hope. I am finding that when I choose to let go of my sometimes petty and superficial wishes and trust that my life is precious and meaningful in the eyes of God, something really new, something beyond my own expectations begins to happen in me.”
The Advent season is upon us. A time we set aside to wait for the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. But it is important that this waiting has a purpose to it. We are given this holy season, so we can reflect on what it means to know that we are so loved by God that God chose to enter our humanity and be one with us. As you consider the enormity of this truth in your life, you may find yourself letting go of all you think you need to be lovable and begin to see the world around you in a new way. It is out of knowing that we are enough for God, no matter where we are or what’s we’ve done, that radical hope will come alive in us.
I invite you to set aside some time this Advent season to let God love you. I will be setting aside time in the sanctuary for quiet prayer and reflection on Wednesdays at 10am and 7pm, December 5, 12 and 19. You are most welcome to come. May God be with you and the ones you love this holy season.
On Saturday September 29 I participated in the Walk A Mile in Her Shoes Event in support of Anova London. Anova provides safe places, shelter, support, counselling, and resources for abused women, their children, and all oppressed individuals to find a new start. The sun was shining, and the energy of all involved was high as men from the community slipped on the 2 inch red high heel shoes and trekked the one mile route around Victoria Park. The day raised over $30000 for Anova to support the many programs they offer. I would invite you to their website to learn more. anovafuture.org.
In our baptismal covenant, we promise to strive for justice and peace among all people and to respect the dignity of every human being. Abuse of any kind, particularity abuse of women at the hands of men, is in direct opposition to this. It is unacceptable that this is continuing at the rate that it is. Saturdays walk was much more than a fundraiser. It was a sign to the world that we can stand in solidarity with the victims of abuse and that together we demand a world where this is no longer acceptable. As one person said to me on Saturday, “My dream is that we won’t have to do this fundraiser every year because there will be no need for Anova.” This is God’s dream too. That God’s good creation is free from violence and injustice and that all of God’s children, male and female, young and old, will live in peace. Jesus’ call from Sunday’s gospel reading (Mark 9:38-50) is to be salt so we can season the world with a love that penetrates deep into every soul. So deep in fact that respect for the dignity of every human being becomes part of who we are. May we pray that violence ends. May we be salt for the world and season it with love and peace. May we together walk toward God’s dream for God’s world!
I don’t know if it still plays on television, but I love the Tim Hortons commercial that describes our feelings as Canadians about the coming of fall. A woman is walking down her street on a sunny summer day, when she looks down and sees a maple leaf that has fallen from a tree to the ground. She looks into the camera and screams, “Noooooooooo!”. We are moving from the warm lazy days of summer to the chill and busyness of fall.
Officially, summer ends and fall begins on September 22 at 9:54pm. This is a perfect time to consider our spiritual journeys. What can we meditate and pray about as we enter this special time of the year? How will we be transformed this fall? Here are a few things we all can consider.
1. Balancing darkness and light. We often fear the dark and only adore the light. Joyce Rupp, a Catholic writer and poet challenges us to befriend our inner darkness: "I gratefully acknowledge how darkness has become less of an enemy for me and more of a place of silent nurturance, where the slow, steady gestation needed for my soul's growth can occur. Not only is light a welcomed part of my life, but I am also developing a greater understanding of how much I need to befriend my inner darkness."
2. Letting go. As we watch leaves fluttering to the ground in the fall, we are reminded that nature's cycles are mirrored in our lives. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that have been a burden. All the religious traditions pay tribute to such acts of relinquishment. Fall is the right time to practice getting out of the way and letting Spirit take charge of our lives.
3. Acknowledging impermanence. Autumn reminds us of the impermanence of everything. We have experienced the budding of life in spring and the flowerings and abundances of summer. Now the leaves fall and bare branches remind us of the fleeting nature of all things. "The poet Wallace Stevens once wrote, 'Death is the mother of beauty.' What those words say to me is that we cherish the beauty of a sunrise, of a relationship, of a child's hug, precisely because those things will not be around forever and neither will we be around to enjoy them."
I pray you find the peace that passes all understanding as you enter into this fall season.
How does one begin a blog page? I guess from the beginning! By way of introduction, I'd like to say how grateful I am to be part of the Anglican Parish of Holy Trinity St. Stephen's Memorial. My road to the priesthood was a long one and at every turn I'm amazed at how the Spirit has guided me to places I never thought possible. Years ago I was a student at Fanshawe College in the Radio Broadcasting Course. As a part time job I worked at CJBK radio on Wellington Ave (graveyard shift from midnight to 5am) watching the big reel to reel tapes go round and round! I would always drive by this particular church on my way to the radio station. I was raised in the Anglican tradition and at that point in my life was not active in the church at all. I remember wondering what this particular Anglican Church was like. I wondered what would happen if I went in one Sunday. Like many folks who drift from Christian community I figured that ship had sailed and that I'd never go back again. So to be serving here as rector and priest is a humbling experience. Now I drive by the radio station on my way to work and wonder if God was smiling at me those many years ago as if to say, "Don't give up on me kid, cause I'm not giving up on you." I'm currently reading "Grateful" by Diana Butler Bass in which she writes. "Grace begets gratitude, which, in turn, widens our hearts toward greater goodness and love." I guess I will begin my time here acknowledging God's grace which carried me here and creates my feeling of gratitude for this new ministry. I invite you to join me here every once in a while as we discover together the many ways God's grace enters into our lives. I hope my reflections will be a chance for us consider God's presence within our journeys. I believe that if we spend time doing that every so often that we will discover the voice of the Spirit guiding us along our paths. God hasn't given up on us...God hasn't given up on you.
Rev. Rob Henderson
Rev. Rob began his ministry at Holy Trinity St. Stephens Memorial in August 2018. Before arriving in London he served as Rector of St. James Roseland in Windsor (2011-2018) and Rector of the Anglican parish of St. Paul's Essex/Trinity Cottam (2008-2011). Rob is a graduate of Huron College (M.Div) and University of Windsor. (B.A). Rob enjoys reading, movies, sports and longs walks at Springbank Park. He and wife Margie have 2 sons, Brett and Kyle.