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Julian of Norwich 1342-1429 By Archdeacon Lynne Marchant

All Shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.

I invite you to come with me on a journey back to the mid 14th century. We are going to a town in the south east of England called Norwich, and in this day and age it was a bustling religious centre During the Middle Ages there were twenty-two religious houses in Norwich and sixty-three churches within the city walls, of which thirty-six had an anchorage. (a small cell built onto the side of the church, sealed up except for a window to the church for services and a window to the outside for counselling.)

At this time there was a plague ravaging England and almost 50% of the towns people died of the Black Death; as if that is not enough there was also The 100 Yr war to deal with.

Into this world Julian of Norwich was born over 600 years ago, 1342 – 1429. (87) She was a medieval mystic and anchoress. She believed that God had spoken to her and given her 16 visions. When she was a young girl/woman she actually wished and prayed that she would suffer while she was young, that she would be transported back in time to stand at the foot of the cross. Be careful what you wish for because when she was about 30 yrs old Julian had what we would call a near death experience

On the seventh day of her illness, all pains left her and she had a series of 15 visions and a 16th the next day. She had visions of heaven, and of the crucifixion; she was taken to the bottom of the ocean and shown that even there if you are with God you are safe. She wrote of these Showings in a short from book. Many years later she wrote the long text, Revelations of Divine Love, God’s message to the world. Her book is a tender meditation of God’s eternal and all embracing love, as expressed to us in the Passion of Christ.

In fact Julian of Norwich wrote the earliest surviving book in the English language written by a woman, Revelations of Divine Love during her years in the cell. After this near death experience Julian became an anchoress, living in a cell on the side of St Julian’s Church for about 60 years.

For me she is a spiritual mentor because she taught us of God’s unwavering love; There is very much a revival of Julian’s popularity these days because many of the issues she faced, that the world faced are still relevant today; not to worry; not to feel guilty about things we do; living during wars and pestilence. She also said God was both male and female! Very controversial now so imagine then! She associated God’s motherhood with all three persons of the Trinity: “I understand three ways of contemplating motherhood in God. The first is the foundation of our nature’s creation; the second is his taking our nature, where the motherhood of grace begins; the third is motherhood at work…and it is all one love. As surely as God is our Father, so truly is God our Mother.

Probably the most famous saying of Julian’s is “All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.” However, when you read the Revelations themselves and get to Chapter 27 we find that it was not Julian who said this, but God who said it to Julian. Then Julian goes on for another 13 chapters about who ALL things could not possibly turn out well!!

Julian’s world in the 14th century was just as volatile as ours is today (if not more so). Knowing Julian argued with God is helpful to us who find it hard to believe that we can ever find a way out of the pickle we have gotten ourselves into! Saying “all shall be well” is a simple devotion that invites us to live more trustingly. . . to let go and let God. Julian argues that if God had not let sin happen in the first place, we would all be more Christ-like and all would have been well. Julian speaks of our sin as an illness or pain, as part of what we suffer. She feels that when we fall into sin we should not hide from God in shame, but rather run to God for comfort and healing as a child would run to its mother when hurt.

Jesus answered thus; “Sin is inevitable, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. We know very little about Julian – probably not her name but what she came to be called, not sure. When she was very ill her mother was with her but no husband or children – but she writes as if she was a mother It is possible she lost her children to the plague ? Her husband if she had one perhaps died overseas fighting in the 100 years war?

Julian or Julianna, Mother Julian, Dame Julian, Lady Julian – would be very pleased that we have little known facts about her. At the end of her book she says ‘don’t remember me for who I am but for what I said.’ Basically her message was simple and rings true today God is LOVE All shall be well Forgive ourselves – sin is inevitable

Leonard Cohen—Reverend Canon Martha Tatarnic

Ring the bells that still can ring.

 Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything. 

That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen jokingly admitted later in life that song-writing was an odd choice for trying to find a bit of financial stability in the arts.  Prior to his turn into music, Leonard Cohen was an acclaimed, but mostly broke, poet.  He had grown up in Montreal, part of the well-established Jewish Cohen family.  The name Cohen actually means priest.  The work of the priest is to lift up and give thanks.  We lift up so that we can see more clearly the presence of God.  We give thanks so that we can receive God’s presence as a gift. 

In Cohen’s music, there is no division between the sacred and the profane, the holy and the secular, the wounds and the beauty, worldly love and divine love.  He is famous for writing songs of love, full of sensual detail and the particularities of actual lived experience, and then weaving into those same songs piercing religious insight and timeless wisdom.  Leonard Cohen’s music has been regularly criticized for being too dark and heavy and depressing.  Those criticisms say little about Leonard Cohen’s music and much about the people who clearly haven’t really listened to his music before lobbing their complaints.

His music teems with dry wit, laugh out loud humour, and a masterful ability to name the absurd, the random and the ironic in life, to name all of that in himself too.  That is part of Cohen’s priestly offering too.  To lift up the strange and foolish and illogical in ourselves and in the world, to invite us to sing and to laugh together rather than to be sunk by confusion and despair.

That being said, Leonard Cohen’s struggle with mental illness is well documented. He suffered from extreme anxiety, which was often exacerbated by having to perform for a living.  He self medicated for years with various combinations of womanizing.  He chased all of the usual highs, the ones that promise us relief, numbness, escape or ecstasy and that mostly turn out to offer nothing to heal the things that are actually hurting us, nothing to feed the emptiness that might be masked but doesn’t go away.

Although Leonard Cohen was raised in a faithful Jewish family, his nanny was a Roman Catholic.  You can certainly hear a Christian influence in his song-writing too, leading many to assume that he was, in fact, Christian.  For many years, he lived in a Buddhist monastery, completely withdrawn from the circles of fame and fortune that he had travelled in, although he made it clear to any who were listening that he saw his Buddhist meditation practices as a complement to his Jewish faith, not a replacement for it.  He credits age and meditation and just pure grace as eventually lifting the weight of depression and anxiety that had so long plagued him.

Before all of that, in 1984, he shared a new album with his label, Various Positions.  It was  almost never released because the executives believed it to be a commercial disaster.  It contained Hallelujah which is now one of the best known songs of our time, covered by almost every major artist that has recorded over the past few decades.  There are a bunch of versions because Leonard Cohen wrote approximately 80 verses.  Some of the verses are rich in Biblical Imagery, some describe sexual love and all of the verses articulate the broken lines that run across our human relationships with one another and our human  relationship with God.  The song’s over-use also can’t take away its masterful  articulation of everything that Leonard Cohen offered so consistently across his life and his work. 

The  word Hallelujah simply means “Praise God.”  Or “Praise God joyously.”  If you are listening, you can hear in Cohen’s earliest songs, all the way to his final masterpiece, You Want It Darker—when he was living with chronic and debilitating physical pain—that final word of praise.  In all that is dark and difficult, painful and wounded, broken and yet holy about our lives, we have the capacity, the gift, of saying our Hallelujah, of surrendering to the mystery, looking for the light and healing, praying and hoping that the God of healing is at work even here, suspecting that love does win out after all.

I did my best, it wasn’t much

I couldn’t feel so I tried to touch

I tell the truth, I didn’t come to fool ya.

And even if it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song.With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah

The Blessed Virgin Mary – an Anglican perspective Reverend Scott McLeod

Anglicans do honour the Saints – most Anglican parishes are named after Saints, after all. Within the Anglican Communion, and spectrum, it may not look the same as the veneration of the saints within the Roman Catholic tradition, or the Orthodox traditions, but Anglicans do place a high importance on the Saints. In a book called For All The Saints, a book produced by the National Church, compiled by Stephen Reynolds that lays out the Anglican church year calendar, the introduction by Reynolds starts with “Whenever we say the Apostles’ Creed, we confess our belief in “the communion of saints.” A little later it states “The habit of remembering “the friends of God” has been one of the great delights of Christian people since the dawn of the Church. The reason for this is neither fancy theology nor subChristian superstition. It is simply that the history of God’s mighty acts of salvation is always a personal history.”

And a little later again, “When the Church enrolls a person on its Calendar and commemorates that person in its liturgy, it does not make a saint where no saint had existed before. Instead, it recognizes a singular truth: God showed Christ specially at work in and through this person’s life, and therefore this person really was a saint all along.”

Mary, the mother of Jesus, does have a particular place and role in that God was specially at work in and through Mary’s life. Although there may be differences of how that is celebrated between the High Church Anglo-Catholic tradition of Anglicanism and the Low Church Protestantism of Anglicanism, but Mary undeniably has an important place within the Anglican Church. In the Church calendar we have no fewer than five days in the year dedicated to Mary – March 25 – the Annunciation of the Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary, May 31 – the visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth, August 15 – the feast of St. Mary, the Virgin, September 08 – the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and December 08 – the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Besides days dedicated to Jesus (which is basically every day) no other saint gets as much recognition or as much time dedicated to them, as Mary.

Reynolds also says that “The Church believes that the divine purpose of justice, mercy, and love is revealed in the stories of particular persons. Indeed, it is through the stories of individual saints that the Almighty renews and strengthens the witness of the whole community of “the holy people of God.” Through Mary’s particular story, and part of the Gospel narratives we see how she was an amazing example of what it meant to make oneself humble before God, and to surrender one’s ego and ambition to allow God to work in and through her doing infinitely more than she could have asked or imagined. Her response to God’s call is an example of faithfulness and devotion that also speaks to the incredible liberation that God promises. In Mary’s Song, known as the Magnificat, found in the Gospel of Luke, generations of people have found inspiration and encouragement in their faith, and a reassurance of God’s promises that we are all loved, and forgiven equally, no matter who we are, a young woman from the ancient Middle East, or us here today. God’s promises to us are true, and Mary is an amazing example of, and inspiration to faithfulness to God, and the Gospel.

** all quotes from Stephen Reynolds, compiler of For All the Saints

Looking at the World in a New Way—Neil Culp

Malcolm Gladwell is a world renowned author, reporter and business strategy expert. Now, a reporter of Jewish descent may sound, at first, like a odd choice to talk about how God continues to act in our lives and has helped me grow in my faith, but it’s where my mind went when Martha asked me to speak in this series.

Malcolm has spent his career doing a very challenging and important thing. He has successfully looked at the world more deeply and clearly than most people, and shared what he has learned from his particular viewpoint. He regularly challenges assumptions, dogmas and “truths” that we commonly hold to be true. In doing that, and sharing what he finds, he teaches us how to look at the world, not as we want it to be, but how God really made it to be.

The lesson of seeing the world as God truly made it is epitomised in the passage of First Samuel 16.7. Samuel has been set by God to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king. Samuel is having Jesse present his sons and when Samuel sees the first son, strong and handsome, is convinced that this the one, but God surprises Samuel. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’”

This is not the only instance of God, and later Jesus, looking at the world in a way different to the rest of us, but it is one of the clearest examples. Malcolm Gladwell also looks at the world differently than most, and has the gift of seeing important things we miss. It is this skill that has inspired growth in my faith.

In his book, David and Goliath (a happy coincidence), Malcolm challenges our assumptions about struggles between perceived underdogs and those in power. To do this, he recasts the iconic story of overcoming great odds: the battle of David and Goliath. When viewed from a different angle, we see that David was never at risk and that his victory was all but certain. Why? Because David refused to play the traditional rules and instead played to his strengths (those attributes that others saw as weaknesses). David knew he would lose in a sword fight, so he didn’t engage in one. He stayed well out of range from Goliath’s sword and flung stones with the deadly accuracy he had mastered through years of protecting sheep from wolves. In that view, David was no underdog, but the one really in control.

What God shows in the story of David, and others, is that we limited humans only see part of what is, and that much of the time we are stuck in a fixed, incomplete and dogmatic way of thinking.

What God invites us to do, and what Malcolm Gladwell teaches us to do, is to shed those blinders and see the world in all of its complexity, beauty and interconnectedness.

ST. THERESE – THE LITTLE FLOWER—By Allison Lynn

St. Therese of Lisieux was born in France, 1873. She was a Carmelite nun and become known at “The Little Flower.” She’s generally portrayed in her habit, cradling her Bible and a bouquet of red roses. It’s a pious and perfect picture.

Instead, I want to you picture a vibrant 8-yearold. She has long, curly hair, and bright, inquisitive eyes. She loves being with her family and has a deep passion for God. This is how I first came to know St. Therese, and I find her fascinating.

Therese lived a short life. After entering the convent as a teenager, she died of tuberculosis at the tender age of 24. By the standards of human history, Therese should have lived and died in obscurity. But the way she lived her life has been an inspiration for millions of people, religious and non-religious alike. How did this happen?

Therese was born into a deeply religious family familiar with grief. She was the youngest of nine in a family where only five children survived early childhood. When Therese was only four and a half, her mother passed away.

Therese was a sickly child, and suffered greatly throughout her childhood. She was shy, sensitive, and bullied.

But Therese had an unlikely hero: Joan of Arc. Therese loved Joan of Arc! She wrote poems and plays about her. She loved her stories of battles and conquests. She admired the great things Joan did for God.

Throughout her life, Therese felt the calling to enter the convent and, by age 15, she felt it was time for her to start the part of her life. Unfortunately, the convent only allowed entrance at age 21, but that wouldn’t stop Therese. On a pilgrimage to Rome, Therese took advantage of a general audience with the Pope to make her plea. The Pope wouldn’t directly grant her permission, but said it would happen “if it is God’s will.” Within months, Therese was granted admission into the convent.

This young passionate woman wanted to be like her hero, Joan of Arc. She wanted to do great things for God. But she was still sickly, shy, and sensitive. And now, she lived in a small, cloistered environment.

One day, she was reading Proverbs and discovered this verse:

“Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me.” (9:4)

She realized that her smallness wasn’t a deficit, but a strength. She could do great things for God through her littleness. The became the start of St. Therese’s teaching called The Little Way.

For my Lenten practice, I decided to live out The Little Way. Here are three things that I found powerful about this amazing teaching:

#1. Be Little Imagine a baby asleep in her father’s arms. She fears nothing. She trusts she will be safe, protected, and loved. Now, imagine that you are that child, supported and covered by the great love of your heavenly Father. This is what is means to be little.

#2. Pray With Simplicity When you feel that great trust and intimacy with God, you don’t need formal, perfect prayers. St. Therese loved talking with Jesus. She encourages us to be open and honest with God, trusting that He will hear the cry of our hearts, even with simple and plain words.

#3. Do Ordinary Things With Extraordinary Love St. Therese’s limited life meant that she could only do ordinary things, but she realized she could infuse them with the great love of God. What could this look like in our lives? What about something as simple as grocery shopping? How could this look if we infused it with extraordinary love? Would it change the food we buy for our families? Or our choice of where we shop? How could it change the way we treat people in the aisles, or that cashier who wears a permanent frown? Think of all the ordinary things we do in our work, homes, communities and social activities. How could these things change if we infused them with God’s extraordinary love?

St. Therese lived almost 150 years ago, and yet her teaching of The Little Way still speaks to us today. Let us follow her inspiration!

Q. Why does the Easter Bunny bring chocolate eggs?

If you are looking for something to criticize, the secularization of Christian holidays is an easy target. How did the celebration of Christ’s birth turn into a season of tinsel and crowded shopping malls? How did the feast of St. Patrick turn into an excuse for excessive drinking (even if the beverage is green)? And how did the story of Jesus’ resurrection ever get linked to Peter Cottontail laying chocolate eggs? It seems a regrettable corruption of our Christian holidays that they have been so completely co-opted into the mass culture for the blatant purpose of consumerism. At the very least, it is undeniably strange that Christian holidays are so widely celebrated …. minus the Christian holiday.

Yet for many of us, we can be confused or critical on one level, and on another level enjoy the secular traditions that are associated with our Christian observances. In fact, although we may wonder at how the secular world can so boldly overtake the symbolism and meaning of holidays that are so obviously rooted in the Christian story, it is actually the Christians who were the first ‘holiday thieves.’ Easter, like many of our other celebrations, gained popularity and acceptance by taking over already-established pagan holidays. Eastre was the Anglo-Saxon pagan goddess of fertility, whose symbol was the rabbit.

Luckily, the celebration of fertility took place in the spring, around the same time that the death and resurrection of Jesus was commemorated in the infant church. As Christianity became the accepted and standard religion of the AngloSaxons, it was a natural fit for the two to morph into one celebration of Easter.

As for the egg, it too was an early pagan spring symbol used to celebrate the rebirth of the earth. But it also happened to work as a symbol of the resurrection – the shell a metaphor for the grave where life lies dormant within, and the hatching of new life an appropriate image for the risen Christ.

Whether or not eggs were originally also a symbol of the goddess Eastre’s fertile hare is hard to say. It seems easy to believe that as Christianity spread, the various symbols and traditions began to interplay and combine, to the point that an egg-laying bunny became associated with Jesus’ resurrection.

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU by Wendy Northcotte

Desmond Tutu was born on October 7, 1931 to a poor family. His father was a teacher and his mother was a domestic worker. To imagine the courage and fearlessness shown by Tutu we need to understand the world of Apartheid he lived in and its impact on the nonwhite citizens of South Africa. Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning ‘apartness’. In 1948 the white National Party government began formalizing policies of racial segregation and economic discrimination against non-whites. There were 148 apartheid laws passed. Significantly, non-whites had to carry I.D. permits at all times, obey strict curfews, public facilities and services were separated, marriages between white and non-white were banned, it removed people from their homes and placed them in segregated neighbourhoods providing 13% of the land for 90% of the population. There was a separate system of education for the non-whites which was grossly underfunded and minimized the opportunity for academic advancement. In the midst of such repression there were many uprisings, marches and peaceful and not so peaceful demonstrations.

Desmond Tutu was one of many players within the country who fought against apartheid. He became a symbol of the non-violent struggle against apartheid. He was respected greatly and became the first Black Bishop of Johannesberg in 1985, first Black Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986 and the same year became the first Black president of the All African Conference of Churches. These positions brought about many speaking engagements and he was always very clear in his statement that apartheid was evil. He said over and over that God intended us for fellowship, for togetherness, without destroying our distinctiveness, and cultural otherness.

Tutu believed in dialogue. He spoke at Afrikaans university campuses and many mainly Afrikaans organizations and groups. Many of the Black community felt it was a waste of time talking to whites. He disagreed because he believed it was essential to give a clear statement of his position and beliefs.. He would strongly state “My passionate opposition to the evil and pernicious policy of apartheid has nothing to do with a political or any other ideology.

It Has everything to do with my faith as a Christian and my understanding of the imperative of the gospel of Jesus Christ. An authentic Christian spirituality is utterly subversive to any system that would treat a man or woman as anything less than a child of God.”

There had been decades of protest and violence. Much blood was shed. When Black leaders began to be released from jail, significantly Nelson Mandala after 27 years of imprisonment, the fear was that the transition to democracy would be a blood bath of revenge and retaliation. When Nelson Mandala became the first Black President in 1994, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed and the hearings started in 1996. Bishop Tutu was chosen to chair the Commission. He believed that there was no end to the human capacity for healing. He held to two simple truths– there is nothing that cannot be forgiven and there is no one undeserving of forgiveness. Ghastly acts must always be condemned, but we can never relinquish the hope that the doers of the most heinous deeds can and may change. The stories told at the commission were horrific and blood curdling. Many tears were shed. Yet there were some extraordinary acts of forgiveness as perpetrator and victim embraced and did so publicly.

The path chosen was forgiveness. For all of us there have been times when have needed to forgive. There have been times we have needed to be forgiven. Archbishop Tutu and his daughter, Mpho, wrote a book together called “The Book of Forgiving.” They tell us forgiveness is a choice and offer a four-fold path to forgiveness. In our humanness we experience some hurt, harm or loss and the result is pain. The choice then is to choose harm and seek retaliation and revenge and carry a bitterness and hatred which gnaws away at our own gut. Or we can choose to heal. Forgiveness is one of the most profound, pervasive, and powerful teachings in the Bible, but also one of the most difficult. It is not necessarily quick….it can take several journeys through the cycle of remembering and grieving before one can truly forgive and be free. We may know that it is good and helpful to let go of resentment, but how do we let go when we’ve been harmed?

The Tutus outline the following

Step 1. Tell the story. Carefully and fully review the facts of the event. Accept that it can not be undone.

Step 2. Name the hurt. Identify the feelings within the facts remembering there are no feelings that are wrong, bad or invalid. Allow yourself to grieve. Struggle through the anger, grief and sadness and push against the pain and suffering on the way to forgiving. Move forward when you are ready.

Step 3. Grant forgiveness which may be in person or within yourself.

Step 4. Renew or release the relationship.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting which is probably impossible anyway. It does not mean that we ignore our anger and hurt. Doing so is just not healthy. Forgiveness is a choice: the simple choice to love rather than to harm the person in return. By choosing love over vengeance, we free ourselves from remaining beholden to our pain. We free others to experience a love that leads to gratitude and reconciliation, and we free everybody for the possibility of being united with Christ’s own loving heart.

Archbishop Tutu is one of the most exceptional Christian leaders of our time. He was a key figure in the overthrow of a regime most evil. He led the way forward to a just society that promoted reconciliation, without revenge. He showed absolute determination in expressing his beliefs and sharing his dreams publicly, always true to his faith. His love of Christ, his generosity of spirit, the immensity of his vision, his courage and his values grounded in faith are an inspiration.

What does “Maundy” mean in “Maundy Thursday”?

If you knew you only had a few hours left to live, how would you spend your time? What would you say to your loved ones? In Jesus’ few last hours, he decides to eat a meal with his friends, a meal that honours God and his Jewish faith, and which chooses friendship and courage over hatred and fear.

The word Maundy comes from the Latin ‘mandatum’ – command. On this last night before Jesus’ death, he has some very specific commands for his friends and followers. Over supper, and in the passing of the cup of wine, he says “Remember Me.” It is because of that command that we gather in our Christian worship around God’s table, week by week and year by year, and we share together in bread and wine. We hear in Jesus’ words not only the call to stay close to him, but also his promise to stay close to us. After supper, Jesus washes the tired, care-worn feet of his disciples, an act of humility and great tenderness. When he commands his disciples then to “do likewise,” he makes it clear that we are not only to engage in the same kind of humble care of others, but we are also to be prepared to allow others to extend care and kindness to us. From our Breakfast Program, to our Water Project, to our Refugee Sponsorship, to the Pastoral Visitors’ Team, Grief Group, Krafty Korners and ACW and ministries of friendship and fellowship across our church, all of our ministries strive to develop these bonds of care that we might offer one another. In doing so, we follow the underlying command of Jesus’ final night: “That you LOVE one another.”

This year, we will be offering a simple Maundy Thursday service, with foot washing, at our regular 12:10pm Thursday worship time April 18th. In the evening, starting at 6pm, we will gather in the gymnasium downstairs for a hearty dinner. As we eat, we will engage in and reflect on these central commands which Jesus gave over that original supper table. Beginning around 7pm, our choir and clergy will lead us in procession into our church sanctuary. (The elevator will be on ready for any with mobility challenges). Together we will celebrate the Eucharist, and we should anticipate that this traditional part of our worship service will be received with fresh eyes for having just shared a meal together downstairs in his name!

Our service ends with the arrest of Jesus. We strip our church of all adornment, and extinguish the lights. We are invited to remain in the dark for prayer and meditation if we wish. We are asked to leave in silence. The evening will be interactive, appropriate and meaningful for people of all ages and for longtime and brand-new Christians. You are more than welcome to invite friends and extend the invitation for supper.

If you can’t join us for supper, you are welcome to arrive for 7pm as our worship continues in the sanctuary. If you don’t want to drive at night, call our office so we can arrange transportation for you.

St. Peter – By Cheryl Bergie

In his final Resurrection appearance in the Gospel of John, Jesus asks Peter, 3 times, do you love me? This question was very personal. He did not ask Peter whether the world, or Israel, or the disciples as a whole loved Him. He didn’t ask Peter about someone else. He simply asked Peter, “Do you love me?”

Today each one of us must ask the question: “Do I love Jesus Christ?” The love that your family, friends, or church has for Him will not be reckoned to your account. One cannot love by proxy. I would ask you to search your own heart and honestly answer the question, just as Peter was asked to do.

He didn’t ask, do you love the Bishop or your Priest? Do you love Doctrine? Do you love your church? Do you love your parents? Do you love your wife, your husband, your children? Jesus could have asked Peter about many things. He could have asked, “Simon, Son of Jonah, have you made a credible profession of faith?” Peter could have answered, “I know that you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Jesus could have inquired, “ Simon, Son of Jonah, do you hold an important office in the church?” Peter would have replied, “yes Lord, you have ordained me as an apostle.” Christ might have asked, “Simon, Son of Jonah, have you had any extraordinary supernatural experiences?” Peter could have responded, “of course, I have walked on the sea, cast out devils, etc.”

But Christ did not put any of these questions to Peter. He simply asked, “Simon, Son of Jonah, do you love me?” He asked this particular question because real love for Jesus Christ comes with responsibility of reciprocating the love He shows to us. A hypocrite may have a good profession of faith, have been baptized, hold a church office, and a myriad of other external privileges but there is more that has to be done. Some people put their love in their work, their family, their hobbies, and put Jesus on hold and do not love Him as the Lord.

I chose Saint Peter to represent a Saint that throughout my life, whether I realized it then or not, could relate to my relationship with Christ. Before I began coming to church or learning more about our faith, I always considered myself to be a decent person, I cared for others, believed in God even though I didn’t know much about Him and tried to make a conscious effort to make sure I did my part to make this world a better place, but did I really love Christ? Fast forward, to when I started coming to St. George’s and to teach Sunday school. The more I learned, the closer I felt to God. I feel that I am maturing into a sheep and I’m trying to do even more volunteering, trying to bring joy etc. but I have to ask myself, do I really love Jesus? Just like Simon, Peter, I want to say, “Yes, I love you Lord!” I feel the love of God in my life and I love you back so much but I know that I don’t always put God first. I get caught up in my own life sometimes and have to be reminded of this reading to ground me again. This is probably not only true for me, and I pray that after today you will all be reminded to come back to this reading and get grounded when needed. If you need any help, whether a lamb or a sheep, we are all in this together and I encourage to ask to be fed or tended to if needed.

Why does worship feel different during Lent?

We have now entered the season of Lent in the Christian year.  This is a forty-day period of renewal for people of faith in which we are invited to an intentional thoughtfulness about what we consume, how we engage with the world around us, and where we can draw strength and nourishment from our relationship with God.  Our Lenten worship changes over this period of time in order to facilitate reflection, to nurture a posture of attentiveness to our prayer and our faith.  Although nothing about Lenten worship is particularly ‘new’ – it follows rites which are offered in our Book of Alternative Services – it will feelsimpler and quieter.  No matter how this worship affects you, whether you find it refreshing or unsettling, note your feelings and reflect on what this is telling you about where and how you most naturally connect with God.   

 A few notes on the ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ of our Lenten worship:

 No Procession –  We are used to worship beginning and ending with a great organ-led hymn as the choir and the worship leaders symbolically enact the journey of faith in which we all share by processing into, or out of, the sanctuary.  During Lent, we emphasize simplicity and reflection by quietly walking to our places from the side of the church.

Psalms – Normally our choir leads this part of our Scriptural proclamation through song.  The psalms are found in Scripture and are the most ancient hymns which we have.  Saying these words of Scripture responsively changes our focus and our participation and allows us to hear these words differently as we share in saying them together.

Peace – Normally we are in the routine of

‘sharing the peace’ in the middle of the service.  By sharing the Peace at the end of our worship, we again simplify and streamline our communal prayer.  We still enjoy this time of friendship and warmth with one another, but it becomes a transition from the formal to the informal part of our fellowship and gathering.  Theologically, the emphasis changes too:  rather than being reconciled with one another before we come to God’s table, instead we discover that we are reconciled with one another because of being at God’s table.   

No ‘Alleluia’ – Our Sunday School children helped us to prepare for Lent by ‘hiding’ the Alleluia last weekend.  Like many good and lifegiving things from which we might choose to abstain during Lent, this joyful and celebratory word becomes all the more powerful and meaningful at Easter for having intentionally gone without it for these forty days.