Tuesday, 28 April 2015

St. Mark's, Longueuil - Good-bye Part 3


Link to sermon preached by Trudy Lebans for St. Mark's Day. She said at the beginning - looking across at Katherine Bonathan, " I don't know if your father would be shocked to see me here (inthe pulpit) or proud. I don't know if she heard Kay's response - but we heard it as we were close to her - and we agreed - "He would have been very proud of you." And so he would.

http://voicesinthetrees.me/2015/04/28/a-sermon-for-st-marks-day/?fb_action_ids=10153788841723976&fb_action_types=news.publishes&fb_ref=pub-standard

If this link doesn't work as is, you can go to Voices in the Trees - and you will find "A Sermon for St. Mark's Day" posted April 28th.

below is the letter written by Dr. Michael Grant, 12e Baron de Longueuil and read by his good friend, Pascale Doucet. Not sure if the text is large enough to read. I have it as a word doc - so if need be, I can copy and paste.



And - try as I might, I haven't been able to put in a photo I really want to - computers - ugh... of the irwin pew - Stephen rang the bell for the service. Trish and her husband, Ruth, and Stephen's wife Jacqueline in their old front pew on the Gospel side. Well do I remember them slipping in  (as slipping-innish as two parents and 6 children can manage a bit late usually) and Tim who was two, fair head bouncing up and down...  


St. Mark's, Longueuil - Good-bye Part 2

Ahh... I think this will be an ongoing story as I'm ready in time to write p'raps in more depth... tears ... My heart reminded me last night that while the details of our lives and experiences differ, we are human together - grief, joy, ambivalence, looking back, being in the moment, looking forward ... all of it is simply human. And so...

Part of the wonder of the closing service at St. Mark's was the shared grief as well as joy. The enthusiasm of the singing - I think the roof should be checked in case it raised a couple of inches. All of us, I imagine, who were old St. Markers remember processing into church singing "Holy, holy, holy." For many of us, that means we entered behind Phyllis Millar, with Edith Miller and then Jim at the organ. Filling the choir stalls - soprano, alto, tenor, bass... How we sang on Saturday - and how I choked on my tears and had to stop to blow my nose...



Photo Jim Hoult as the church filled


Altar decked in red for St. Mark with the exquisite old embroidered frontal and super-frontal



My brother Jim practising before the service (Photo Jim Hoult)
Procession - Photo Donald Shields
Entering St. Mark's for the last time - Photo Donald Shields

All who were baptized at St. Mark's were invited to come forward and gather around the font. Most of us of a certain age were probably baptized at a private ceremony for family and friends on a Sunday afternoon. I was - in the family baptism dress of delicate linen and lace that had been lovingly stitched by my great-great grandmother Susan Jane Smith Woodier who had emigrated to Runcorn, Cheshire, England. She sent it home to Bermuda for Gram, Emily Millicent Spicer Hamer's baptism in St. Peter's Church, St. George's, Bermuda in 1891. It's come right down through the generations of our family ... 

A lump gathered (if lumps gather) in my throat , and tears in my eyes as people came out of pews and up to the font. There was a collective sigh or catching of breath - ohhh - emotion as we watched young to very old move forward ... prayers were said, and then two of the youngsters sprinkled everyone with water from the font. Someone (Dawn Smith, I think) said, "We're behind you, too!" Laughter. The children turned and water sprayed ... 

Sprinkling those who were baptized at St. Mark's with water from the font (Photo Jim Hoult)

Trudy Lebans preached one of the 'fabulous three" women who were ordained
out of St. Mark's 
(Photo Jim Hoult)


Listening attentively l-r Donald Shields, Server Lynn Lexima, Pascale Doucet, Ros Macgregor
(Photo Jim Hoult)

Pascale Doucet, a good friend of  Dr. Michael Grant, 12th Baron de Longueuil, read a wonderful letter from him to us. Pascale's ancestor André Lamarre and Michael's ancestor, Charles LeMoyne were best friends.



Preparing to concelebrate of the Eucharist with all robed clergy at the altar - Photo Jim Hoult


What a privilege to preside. Donald and I distributed communion - I the bread; he the wine. Tears again threatened and sometimes snuck through as I placed the wafer in the hands of old friends and family and gave a blessing to the small children who are not yet communicants. 

An aside: At our church (St. CHL) and in many churches, communion begins as soon as the child is old enough to receive. Baptism gives full membership in the church family, and since we don't wait until children understand the digestive system before we give them food to eat, and since none of us can truthfully claim to fully understand communion, all are welcome. 

Anyhow, Donald and I each went right to left - the usual - and passed behind the altar to return and begin again. Sharing communion took a while, I guess - but it was eternal time - and once in a lifetime - so what's the rush? I am so blessed to have been able to share in this way in the liturgy - and even to take communion to two people who were unable to manage the steps.... Sacred play of joy and sadness mixed, joy and sadness.

Madsen Family played "Jesus Joy of Man's Desiring after communion.
Eric Madsen, on the right, grew up with his siblings at St. Mark's. He was server, sexton, chorister, and more. Music runs in the family veins - and he, his wife and two of his children played cellos and violins - what a gift to all of us.  

Background left, Margaret Forbes (aka Margie to me when we were children) sat in her old choir seat where she sang alto beside Florence Hoult. She must have taken over my spot when I went to Boston. :-) her sister Janet was unable to be with us due to illness, but she was very much with us in spirit.



George (as we called him), the lectern eagle

I don't know when he grew a wooden back - and he doesn't polish up as he did in the 60's - not for lack of trying by Katherine (aka Kay) Bonathan, Canon B's younger daughter. (Photo to follow as soon as I figure how to keep it right side up. Sigh...) Others polished all the silver on Wednesday last week while George was getting spruced up.  



Other polishers and helpers. the men moved the choir stalls back and other heavy work.




Photo Jim Hoult

There are two Rolls of Honour. The names of many on the 1939 - 1945 I recognize, including Dad's near the bottom left. James Ascroft. Andrew Larson. Maurice Drolet who was a parishioner at St. Paul's Lachine. Sheppards. Millington .... 

I was aware as I sat in Canon B's stall of the 'presence' of Gram's, Auntie Joyce's, Dad's and Mum's coffins at the foot of the stair where the font stood for this service. 1964. 1981. 1992. 1995. So many memories. 

So aware of grief and celebration intertwined. I'd like someone to tell me who the old couple are who are at the font. What a moving image as one touches the font and the other reaches out to do so.

More will follow. Missing photos still of the beautiful display in the hall that Katherine put together. There will also be a link for the wonderful powerpoint that Christine Smith Jacobs created.






Monday, 27 April 2015

St. Mark's, Longueuil - Good-bye Part 1

Our little stone church was packed - absolutely packed - on Saturday. People from tiny infant to well into their nineties. It was awe-inspiring. I'll write more of the day soon. It's still pretty raw - joy, sorrow, pride entwined. We did it!! We created a good-bye worthy of us and our little church(es) of St. Mark's and St. Oswald's. Jim played the organ and keyboard - such a  gift he has - it was all fitting - involving as many past parishioners of both little churches as possible.

Meantime, I wrote some memories to share with others in print form. It will all be put together in a format that can be shared ...and hoping more people will send their memories to add.


April 25th, 2015
St. Mark's, Longueuil, QC  1842 - 2015
(my photo)


My great-grandmother, Laura Mary Spicer died and her funeral was the first done by Canon B (as we called him) after his arrival at St. Mark’s.  He pastored five generations of our family. My Mum, Frances Hamer, married Dad October 5, 1940, and her two sisters Eileen and Joyce each married at St. Mark’s. All of the next generation of children except Peter Rilstone, who was born and baptized in Australia, were baptized there. Most of us were confirmed at St. Mark’s, and my brother Jim married Sandra Ascroft on August 10, 1968. Not sure about others, but two of their children, Lisa and Mark, were baptized there. So – baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals …

                My brother Lorne drowned in July 1950. The following fall, I was old enough to begin Sunday school. In those days, with no hall, we used pews and kneelers for most of us on Sunday afternoons. However, Mrs. Napper had a small class of little boys in the little room to the left of the pulpit. Coming from Montreal South, I didn’t know any other children my age except for my best buddy, Peter Rilstone, so when he was led to Mrs. Napper’s class, word is I had a screaming fit at being abandoned. Fortunately, Canon B was understanding of my grief and terror, and so I began Sunday School in the boys’ class sitting beside Peter. When the hall was built, Sunday School was held there. Frances Herron was our teacher and she was so kind I loved her. The next class up was led by Mrs. Edith Miller.

                When I was quite little, our Sunday School picnics were held on the grounds of Fort Chambly. I remember racing towards the finish line, which was feet away from the fence aabove the river and rapids. Scary. Later we began to go to Missisquoi Bay. Always fun. So many of us, such enthusiasm and a warm sense of church family.

                A large group of us was confirmed February 28, 1960 by Bishop John Dixon shortly before he retired. Peter and I used to walk or take the bus – having been bitten by a bug that made us extra religious – from Montreal South to St. Mark’s for the early service Sunday mornings if the main service was Morning Prayer. I have since become (fortunately) less ‘religious’ and less fearful of God and how God acts in the world.

                After confirmation, Sandra Ascroft, Lynda Higson, I and a few others joined the altar guild led by Miss Dora Parry. We polished fervently, especially remembering George our eagle and the large collection plate. I used to be annoyed that the servers put their full sweaty hands on the bottom of the plate, knowing they were leaving hard finger prints we would have to scrub off again. Wait a minute! I just realized - that (of course - sigh, grrrr), in those days, only boys allowed to be servers, and girls’ rightful ;-) place was on the altar guild, cleaning and polishing.  I remember sitting on the cushions, polishing the brass parts of the altar rail. We chatted and laughed, and learned a great deal about how to care for the church. When Miss Parry decided to retire, she asked me to take over as head of the altar guild. A privilege that stood me in good stead for the future - at St. Margaret's Convent and then as a priest.

                A curious note re girls’ and boys’ places: of course, only men could be ordained priests until about 1976. Canon B hoped one or more of the boys might feel called to the priesthood. He was, in fact, against women’s ordination until with a big heart, at 89, he changed his mind – and gave me several of his stoles to boot. At any rate, only three of his young people became ordained Anglican priests - three women: Trudy Lebans, Mary Irwin, and me. Until recently, that is when Donald Shields was ordained, but Canon B., having died, didn't know it. And Remo Madsen became an ordained Lutheran pastor.

                Jim, my brother, played the organ at St. Mark’s after Edith Miller retired. He and all four of the Rilstone boys, Auntie Joyce (Rilstone) and I were in the choir. I sat on Florence Hoult`s right on the Gospel side and learned to sing alto (I have a permanent left lean :-) from trying to hear Florence's alto next to two extremely strong sopranos on my right - Phyllis and Carol Millar.  always had a box of little hard, chewy, round red cough drops called Formalids to share during the sermon. One Sunday, the box was dropped and they rolled everywhere. Canon B was behind us in the pulpit, so we couldn't see his reaction. I have never (and have tried hard) been able to find Formolids again – sigh ... 

                One of the hymns we`re singing today is `Thou who at thy first eucharist didst pray…` Canon B always came to choir practice and sat in his usual priestly stall across from Phyllis Millar, chief soprano. Two very strong characters. When this  hymn was suggested – no – not suggested – we were going to learn it ad sing it – World Choir War 3 started. Yelling. Resistance. Absolutely no way we were going to sing this hymn. We did. And it became one of our favourite hymns – hence we are singing it today – memories and more memories.

                The Sunday before I left Montreal in 1967 to go to St. Margaret`s Convent in Boston, we sang the Folk Mass for the first time, with Jim at the organ.

                And then there was St. Oswald`s – I don`t know what the spat was about, but at a certain point in the 20`s or early 30`s, my grandmother (I guess) had a major disagreement with the priest of the time and we began going to St. Mark`s. My great-aunt,  Lillian Jane Spicer married Ray Press who was organist at St. Thomas Church on de Lorimier and Sherbrooke, at St. Oswald`s. And I was a Brownie there and Jim a cub and scout there.


St. Oswald's, Montreal South, QC
(Photo from Gail Hamer Howell)

                St. Mark`s has been home for so long. St. Oswald's  was home for others. They will live on –  they do live on in our lives, hearts, and memories.














Friday, 17 April 2015

In Good Company: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty

Sunday, I had the privilege of presiding at the eucharist at Church of the Epiphany in Verdun.  Preaching, too. Good ol' Thomas, the Twin and Doubter.  I had started my ponderings  with a quote I'd seen  by Anne Lamott: "The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty." Oh, yes! Having been certain about faith for a fair bit of my life, lived out of desperate fear, I have a right to speak about this.  I began to search further - only to discover that Richard Holloway also said this: "The opposite of faith isn't doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty." 


Images from Google. Photos below are mine.



I don't know which of them came up with it first. Does it matter? In finding Richard Holloway's version, I happened upon a review of a book he'd written: Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt.  See below for a link to an article/interview about his book.

Meantime, I'm in a process of processing. Again. Or still?

Back to Church of the Epiphany. I told them my friend Anne (one of them, as I have quite a few friends named Anne) had shown me a 5-minute video clip of Expo 67 that brought back many memories. Expo was such a powerful experience. I asked how many of the congregation had been to Expo 67. People of a certain age put up their hands. I then asked how many weren't even born in 1967. Laughter and different hands! A few who had been there shared memories and each one of course remembered different aspects. People and more people from all around the world. Particular pavilions. Food and more food. Walking and sore feet.... 

I made a connection with the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were each telling the stories of the resurrection from their own perspectives, for different audiences. John was writing mostly for people who hadn't been there to see, touch, walk with Jesus. Like those born after Expo 67 who have to rely on the story-telling of us oldies.  :-) And somehow the immediacy and power of our experience is lost in the telling.

I'm not going to write the entire sermon. But we had some fun with Thomas. New thoughts for me. I'm ashamed to say it never occurred to me that his twin might have been female. Where was Thomas? Hiding in fear? Having supper with his mother-in-law or his great aunt Josephine? Jesus could have gone and found Thomas by himself wherever he was. Instead, he came back when Thomas was present with the other disciples. Jesus gave the early community and us a model for dealing with doubt. He didn't shame Thomas. He didn't exclude him. He accepted him as he was, and treated him with respect. To Thomas and to us: "Go ahead. Touch me. I'm real."

Then there's this doubt problem. I asked if anyone had doubts sometimes and a few hands (out of about 50) went up. OK - so they didn't teach us this in seminary, but I said, "Hmmm... seems to me a lot of people here aren't telling the truth." 

"Have you ever wondered what kind of God allows a four year old to have cancer? Have you wondered about a 51 year old Black man running, unarmed, away from a white police officer and being shot dead? Eight bullets. Or a young Black man killed by a policeman (who was found innocent!), in Ferguson, Missouri? Or 150 young Christians massacred at a university in Kenya? Or ... the 'collateral damage' done in Iraq and Afghanistan by the missiles of Western countries like ours? I have."  Heads nodding all over the place.

"Have you ever stood saying the Nicene Creed, wondering at certain parts if you really believed this, and looked out of the corner of your eye at others and thought, 'Well, they all seem to believe it. What's wrong with me?' I have."  More nods .. a little self-consciously, maybe.



Doubt is normal. "The opposite of faith isn't doubt. It is certainty." Certainty is impossible. Certainty grows, I believe, out of fear. Mine did anyhow. Illusions of certainty.

We have questions. We should have questions. Doubt is healthy and normal. Asking questions and sharing doubts in community is the way to go. 

OK - so - Then there is Richard Holloway's book. I went to visit my favourite (and only) niece and godchild Lisa and my favourite oldest great-nephew Josh in Ottawa on Sunday after church til Tuesday. Monday, Lisa and Josh went to work; I went to research at the archives downtown and then ambled along Wellington Street in the spring-y weather. On the way past the Supreme Court, I thought nasty thoughts about the people who recently voted to allow the gun registry data from Quebec to be destroyed. I thought similar thoughts about our Prime Minister (who set the destruction of the gun registry data in motion) as I journeyed past our magnificent stone Parliament Buildings. Stephen Harper, in case you don't know his name, when it comes time to vote this fall. And then - on an off chance - I went to Chapters to see if they had Richard Holloway's book.

THEY DID! I can't write about it yet. I may not write about it on my blog. It is turning me upside down and inside out, and at the same time I feel that I am not alone. That I am understood, even if Richard doesn't know it.

An aside. Did you know that priests began to be called Father not all that long ago? So, again I say, "Stop it!" Anyhow he was, and is, Richard. Didn't even do the purple shirt thing as a bishop. He was our parish priest at the Church of the Advent in Boston in the early 80's. An excellent, powerful preacher. But the only line I remember from his sermons was one Sunday morning he said, "Scots are always homesick." Turns out he was. I was and am. Maybe we all are - homesick for something beyond our understanding... not just places. There are so many levels of home.

Anyhow, Richard grew up in poverty in Glasgow and was trained towards priesthood at Kelham, a religious community in England from age 14.  He begins the book crying in the cemetery at Kelham. Although the community no longer exists, the cemetery where his brothers are buried does. So, if I'm weird, I'm not weird alone. Last October, I found the cemetery in Boston where my Sisters were buried until the 1980's. I took photos of some of the grave markers. Found Sister Rhoda's. And Sister Eugenie's. And those of Sisters who had died long, long before I entered the community. I cleaned moss and dirt from quite a few, all the while remembering. Cemeteries tell stories. They actually hold parts of our stories...


Sisters of St. Margaret - Cedar Grove Cemetery, Boston


Sister Rhoda's grave marker

You'll have to read the book if you want the depth and breadth of it. But there are threads in his story that touch me deeply.

Disappointment is a thread. Feeling he disappointed God by leaving community. He wasn't professed; he was a novice, and yet, he feels (as I understand him) he failed somehow to live up to God's call to give his all. Disappointing others. Disappointing himself... The first quote of the book and one he refers back to often: "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world."  2 Timothy 4.10

That's not to say anything except that it is part of who Richard is. And it's a thread I've tried to make sense of in my own life. We are products of our pasts, of our choices, of other people's choices, of our personalities inherited and otherwise. We are who we are. 

Disapointment doesn't govern his life, or mine. It's simply a thread with a history. We're on a journey to where we are called to know who we are - foibles, faith, failures, all of it... 

Doubt is a thread. Questioning. How to be part of Church and yet ... a big question, when we're feeling most honest - is about life after death. There is no certainty. I 'liked' it better when I could be certain - except to be certain was, for me, a lie. Because I'm not certain. Faith is faith. Hope, yes. But there is no way to know this side of the grave. Life and death. The big puzzles. 

Richard became Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. He resigned in 2000. He stirred things up. Read the book if you want to understand better. Follow the link below for a summary bit - 

http://bryanappleyard.com/the-opposite-of-faith-is-not-doubt-it-is-certainty-2/

Meantime, I am thankful. Once again I was led to just the book I needed to read. 

A friend asked why I always seem to be wrestling with stuff. Pushed my buttons for a bit - as I ask myself the same thing. I have to wrestle.  I have to try to make sense of things or find or create meaning. In my better moments, I think wrestling is healthy. Tiring sometimes. Freeing. 

I think Richard agrees, if I need someone to agree with me. ;-) It does make me feel better. So, I guess I do.

We're in it together, folks. This messy thing called Life.


















Saturday, 4 April 2015

Alleluia Socks, New Fire, and Church Bells

Jesus Mafa image of resurrection
Pictures from Google Images
Just home from the Easter vigil at Mile End Mission. Creative chaos. Quite a few children. Lots of action. Bilingual drama leading from the upper room and disciples in fear, to telling God stories to comfort them/ourselves, to re-enacting the Exodus - Singing: "Let my people go! Laisse mon peuple partir!" with great enthusiasm and somewhat offkey - Missy as Pharaoh, finding frogs on her/his throne and swatting away hordes of flies... and letting us go - to Moses (Lubo) leading us forth across the Red Sea (children holding and shaking a turquoise painted cloth until Lubo brought his rod down to part it. (I hope the broomstick got reunited with the base afterwards) ... 

The New Fire didn't light too well - wood shavings too fine and it was very windy. The fire caught eventually and flamed up in the darkness. People driving by on St-Urbain, a busy thoroughfare, must have wondered what this crowd of raggle-taggle people gathered around a turkey pot lighting a fire were up to. Procession with large cross and the paschal candle carried with care by Emma. Candles and little fire bugs. "The light of Christ!" sung in the traditional manner. Children helping with communion. Tom providing wonderful music. All in all, a beautiful and moving service. 

I wore multi-coloured unmatched socks - my Alleluia socks - and we discovered several of the children were wearing alleluia socks, too. They'll remember that. Live life with colour! Easter life! 



On the way home I heard church bells chiming long and loud calling the faithful to another, more traditional, Easter Vigil at the large RC church on St. Joseph Blvd. Made me want to stop and join them.

Ready for tomorrow. Easter growing out of living Lent, Holy Week, right up to and through Holy Saturday.

May you have living colour alleluia socks - in reality or imagination! :-) May you know new life!

Alleluia!  




Stuck on Holy Saturday - for Now




 Love one another as I have loved you.

I'm stuck. It's Holy Saturday. For so many years, I hated Lent, sort of counting down the days 'til it was over. then our priest, Ken Genge told me in the 80's when I was back in Montreal, "Now it's yours." Another friend told me once Lent is her favourite season of the church year. ??? thought I. So, many years later, moving gradually out of guilty-living, I've discovered Lent as a time of challenge, peace (in its deepest sense), learning and understanding and living in questions in new ways... 


Holy Saturday

So... for the first time ever, I'm not anxious for Easter. In fact, part of me just isn't ready - well - would we ever be? Ready for joy and grace in such full measure?

But - I'm leaping ahead. And I don't want to. 

Thursday afternoon, there were only 5 of us at St. CHL for Maundy Thursday.  The Triduum isn't part of the collective or individual experience of most Anglicans of a certain generation around here. I had the privilege of being part of exquisitely beautiful Maundy Thursday services at SSM for many years. The deep silence. Liturgy at the Church of the Advent in Boston. We didn't grow up with it, though. Not here in fairly low church Montreal. Not in Barbados, where two of the five originate from.  

Thursday night, I attended La Sainte Cène at Eglise Saint-Joachim in Pointe-Claire, one of my many spiritual homes - this one discovered by 'accident' - "There are no accidents, our guide is Aslan." There were 200-300 people present. The curé led us through the liturgy teaching as we journeyed. A large group of young teens have been studying what it means to serve. In sets of three - one adult, two teens, there were stations all around the church for the congregation to have hands washed and dried by them. Very moving. 

Maundy Thursday - Good Friday - 

I've found some wonderful reading material. Frederick Buechner: The Faces of Jesus: A Life Story.  His chapter "The Last Supper" got me thinking and praying about 'lasts.' You'll have to read it for the full benefit. It led me into exploring lasts. What it means. The last Supper - he speaks of Jesus knowing it was the last supper with his friends. Knowing he was going to die. Knowing it was the end of their journey together in this life. The disciples knew but didn't know. Their hearts were heavy. Their dreams were about to be shattered. They didn't understand what was going on. They wanted to be with Jesus, but they simply couldn't take it all in - the sense of confusion, loss, uncertainty. What was the matter with Him? They wanted to accompany him; they ended up betraying him, denying him, falling sleep, and then running and hiding when he needed them most. Most abandoned this man whom they loved deeply. Would we do the same?

Lasts: I remember the last time I saw my Dad. At his home in Longueuil. Tuesday in Holy Week 1993. He didn't feel well enough (thought didn't say so) to come to my place, so I took my alb to wash there and had lunch with him and Mariette. Egg sandwich on white bread. I tell this story in more detail elsewhere. When it was time to leave, I kissed him on the cheek, and went down the six stairs to the outdoor landing, turned and looked back. His face reflected a great sadness. I misinterpreted it as him being disappointed in me. Most likely, he knew he wasn't going to see me again. That was the last time. 

If I could go back, I would hug him. If I could go back, we'd talk more and I'd ask questions, and .... and I guess if the disciples could have gone back to that last supper and last night, they might have  .... who knows.... ?

Mostly, we don't know when the last times will be. I don't think we're able to take in the clues, if there are clues. I've been present at many deaths, and I know the clues. Yet I couldn't 'see' the clues in my Dad - I just couldn't. Too close to home. And, of course, sometimes, there aren't any clues - it's an accident or ... 

In this last evening, Jesus knew his disciples. He knew they were a raggle-taggle bunch of frail human beings. And yet, he was entrusting the ministry to them. He knew they would betray, deny, abandon him. How hard it must have been to trust that they would regain courage, grow, and share the Good News into the next generations... 

When I left the Mission, I left it in the hands and hearts of a raggle-taggle bunch - and they have carried on. One day I will leave the parish. I may ;-) wonder sometimes what difference I've made - having tried so hard to help us grow into a healthy, loving community of faith. I trust. God. And the people. We're all raggle-taggle. Human. Frail. Courageous. Afraid. Loving. Messer-uppers. Real people, in other words. 


In the 50's and 60's. like most, we all attended at least part of the three hour Good Friday service, though our family went for the last half hour or hour so we didn't have to get up and be seen leaving. ;-) Too many sermons. Deadly. Too - well, lacking something to bring it to life. Pun intended. Today Good Friday can be lived differently. 

NOW. It hurts, and the pain is lived. 

For our CHL Good Friday. I discovered a liturgy online, heretic that I am. We used one focussing on the 8 Protestant :-) Stations of the Cross. It was beautiful, powerful, challenging. There were silences. After each reading, prayer, silent meditation, hymn, one of the 8 candles was extinguished. 




Barbara Brown Taylor: Home By Another Way. In the chapter on the seven last words - "The Voice of Love" - begins with the "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15. 25 - 34)  Again - worth reading the entire chapter...

Page 85: "This Jesus died talking to his Abba, who would not talk back to him. is there any other definition of faith? In his suffering, he is the comfort of those who have no comfort. In his abandonment, he is the God of those who have no God. Hearing no voice of live, he cried our, making a sound that - for many - became the voice of love."

And now - Holy Saturday - tonight we will have our Easter vigil at Mile End Mission. Child Friendly. Bilingual. Chaotic and dynamic. A New Fire and procession outside on snowy ! sidewalk ... and tomorrow at 10am, the Easter service at St. CHL. Everything has been prepared - except the homily. 

I've never had trouble with an Easter homily being ready ahead because I leaped forward. Today I don't want to leap forward. I feel the need to rest in the tomb - or outside the tomb. To live through to Easter not in passivity. To live in the tension. A choice. 



To be continued... 

And if you're looking for an awesome book - here it is. 

Joan Chittister: Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life