July 2017 Convocation Newsletter
It is my great privilege tody to be here today to confirm these eleven fine young people, to receive in the church one fine young man, and to present my official letter of institution to your priest in charge, Father Christopher Easthill. The verse of the Bible that struck me as I prepared my sermon is in the first letter of John. ‘We know love by this, that Jesus laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.’ It goes on...‘How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees his brother and sister in need, and yet refuses help. Little children let us not love in speech, but in truth and action.’ The middle verse there – ‘how does God abide in anyone who has the world’s goods’ is a bit weak in the translation. King James’ men as they translated this, did it literally…
In a letter to Haim Korsia, Grand Rabbi of France, Bishop Pierre Whalon and the Very Reverend Lucinda Laird, dean of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Paris, expressed solidarity with the Jewish community in the face of growing anti-Semitism in France, and across Europe. The letter followed an incident in which the Cathedral wall along the avenue George V was defaced with anti-Jewish graffiti. “It is intolerable that anti-Semitism is rising again in our countries,” the two said. With this deplorable act, “we felt that Christians were being targeted, as well. Whoever is attacking the Jews in France is attacking us as well.” “Whether Jew, Christian or Muslim, we are all one human family and worthy of respect."
We spent a good deal of time together considering what are we communicating and how. I hope that you found this weekend to be of some use to you in your work as communicators, communication being the work of the church — communication being the church itself. You are witnesses of these things, Jesus says. Well, witnesses to what? There are four gospels and another source that tell us of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Besides the four gospels, of course, we have. . .
My Sunday School teachers made much of the Great Commission (and related pronouncements of Jesus) to "go forth" into the world. This was the late sixties in Western Canada and elements of the Anglican Church of Canada (and other mainline denominations) had begun to set aside old colonialist ideas that our task was to civilize and westernize foreign societies. One sensed rejoicing that God was present in the lives of African and Asian Christians as African and Asian people and not merely copies of a dominant culture from the West.
The most amazing and life-giving discussions have occurred at times where my mind has been elsewhere, my body tense. Yet it was when I focused myself on being present on the here and now, just for a little while, that magic happened. That God appeared. Today’s gospel reading, the story of Doubting Thomas, echoes the importance of being present. This morning, we find the disciples of Christ in a bad way. They are grieving, they are devastated, and they have locked themselves away in their house out of fear that they might receive a punishment as painful and humiliating as Jesus. Everyone is there, everyone is scared and everyone is suffering. Everyone except Thomas.
Episcopalians have a prayer that names “this fragile earth, our island home.”  We’ve been praying it for nearly 40 years, yet many are only beginning to awaken to our wanton abuse of this planet. We profess that God has planted us in a garden to care for it and for all its inhabitants, yet we have failed to love what God has given us. We continue to squander the resources of this earth, and we are damaging its ability to nourish the garden’s diverse web of life.
Twenty years ago, an American singer named Joan Osborne riled people up with a song named, “One of us.” The Canadian star, Alanis Morissette, re-issued it five years ago. . . "If God had a name what would it be? And would you call it to his face? If you were faced with him in all his glory, what would you ask if you had just one question?. . . What if God was one of us?"
One of my earliest memories is my mother giving me a bath in the kitchen sink. Yes, there was a time when I could fit in one, though I must say our home had a rather large sink. Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, doing what a servant would normally do. Feet get dusty in that part of the world. And even today, the foot is the obscene part of the body. If a Middle Easterner does this – shows his foot -- it is the equivalent of a well-known Western hand gesture. Touching feet, never mind washing them, is deeply shameful. The disciples must have been quite surprised that their beloved Teacher would stoop to do this. Well, they were grown men, too big to fit in the kitchen sink. But those feet needed washing. And they all needed to be part of Christ, for their lives’ sake. So they first needed washing, before they could be fed.