Dear friends of the Parish of St.Christopher and St.Aidan in Lake Cowichan
For many years now I have considered the patterns embedded in our life experience. The one I look for most often is simply a wave. Just as the tide of the ocean comes in and out, and the sea currents rise and fall, creating regular waves, there are wave patterns for weather, social movements, your personal mood across several days or weeks, economic graphs, and so much more.
In the last few months we have all been drawn to consider the graph pattern of the Covid-19 pandemic, both for the world, as well as for individual countries. Of course we are most interested in the wave patterns for BC, and Vancouver Island.
While we have seen the line rising which signals the rising number of Covid cases, in some countries the graph reached a plateau and has been falling for several months. The bend of the curve represents a reversal, and the possibility of a change from bad news to better, for all of us. Alternatively, if a graph going in a positive direction bends the wrong way, it is bad news.
I expect Dr. Bonnie Henry will give us another major update in the next few days, letting us know whether the "lock-down" will continue for a few more weeks yet.... or change. I will let you know how it will affect our Parish closure once I hear myself.
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On Sunday I watched the Installation worship service for our new Bishop Anna Greenwood-Lee from Christ-Church Cathedral in Victoria. Seeing what she was able to accomplish in Calgary (through links from the Diocese; eg, look up Wisdom Centre in Calgary) I am excited to see in the future whether we may look at her arrival on the Island as the beginning of new chart lines for the Anglican church here, or perhaps for a new pattern of spiritual engagement by many people outside the "mainline" churches as well.
While I look for the Covid graph to continue to bend downwards, I pray that the graph for involvement in Christian life and faith in our region might rise. And how about the wave pattern for our own Parish in Lake Cowichan? Is it possible that the "trend line" of the graph might rise, depending on our own engagement in the church in the months to come? Could we imagine creating opportunities for others in our town to find meaning and purpose, friendship and significance, through involvement in our congregational community?
I tend to be a hopeful person ~ perhaps even a "PollyAnna", looking at the future through rose-coloured glasses. But my experience of wave-motion in many realms of life leads me to consider the graph pattern of spiritual engagement around us. Just as the crisis of the second world war led to an explosion of church-building in the 1950's and 60's to keep up with the rising demand, I wonder whether the aftermath to the pandemic and resulting economic dislocation might result in more people consciously seeking involvement that creates significance. Everyone wants to be involved in things that are meaningful, which make a difference. That describes what being a Christian is all about! Because I'm a follower of Jesus, I look for the graph of church involvement to bend what has been a downward trend, to begin a new curve gently rising into the coming years.
Am I naive? Possibly. However, the rag-tag group of folks who followed Jesus were also considered hopelessly out of touch in the early days of the Christian church. As we sometimes sing, "nothing is impossible with God." Or as I like to think, if you follow Jesus, the pathway will involve surprise: it will also lead to fulfillment and challenge, delight and new relationships, ...and celebration!
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This coming Sunday, Feb 7, Bishop Anna is leading a service at Christ-Church Cathedral to which we are all invited (yes, all the Anglican churches on the island!) The details are below ~ a simple link to the website of the Cathedral. Please consider watching, to get a sense of the new leader for our Diocese, and to begin to wonder what the implications might be for us. See the link below.
I send warm greetings today, and will have another email to you on Saturday.
May God encourage you and your family today, and bring healing and renewal to our world.
Bishop Anna Preaching at Christ Church Cathedral
Sunday, February 7, 2021
Although I am not offering you a sermon this weekend (as we are all asked to join our new Bishop!), I have copied the lessons for tomorrow, so you can read them in advance.
The first two readings portray God not only as the creator of the universe, the one who flung the stars into space and who maintains creation, but also as a Saviour who comes to rescue the weak and sick and downcast. He is the one who calls us to humble worship, and a closer relationship with our creator. The lesson from 1Corinthians expresses Paul's desire to be available to help anybody and anybody to experience the "good news" of Jesus. He models a pattern of Christian life as "service" which helps others grow closer to God. And you might say that the lesson from Mark portrays "a day in the life of Jesus", where Jesus is on the move, but pays attention to everyone as he pursues his mission.Jesus is the One who takes initiative to come to each of us, and to all of us. May God be in our midst, and bring hope and healing across our world.
Here are the readings for tomorrow morning: February 7, 2021
40:21 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? God is the One who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
Praise the LORD! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The LORD lifts up the downtrodden; he casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre. He covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner; but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. Praise the LORD!
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel. For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak, I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might, by all means, save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with evil spirits. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you."He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do."And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.