Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada Writes an Easter Message

The Cross of Christ and the Power of His Resurrection

By Fred Hiltz, Archbishop and Primate on April 13, 2017

In many places the large rough wooden cross carried into the Good Friday liturgy remains in place throughout the first few weeks of Easter. But now bunches of spring flowers surround its foot and a good length of white linen is draped over its arms. Once a cruel instrument of torture and death, it has become for us a wondrous sign of hope and glory in Christ.

When that cross on a hill outside the city wall looked to the world like a “tree of defeat” for the mission of Christ, an end to the kingdom he was proclaiming, God made of it a “tree of victory”. Now its limbs point the gospel in all directions, to the very ends of the earth.

In his dying “Christ was reconciling the world to God, not counting our trespasses against us and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us”. (2 Corinthians 5:19, 20). Through his rising that magnificent work continues in the world. Christ breaks down the barriers we are so prone to erect, and he gives us the grace to make of all the debris the very paths on which we can walk reconciled and renewed in our love and respect for one another as children of God.

We live in a time when the world is in desperate need of reconciliation. In headline after headline, and image after image, we are confronted with so many atrocities committed in the name of religious extremism or political clout. If we are to be about the healing needed within and among the nations, there needs to be a renewed effort for global dialogue, in the search for common commitments and an unwavering resolve in abiding by them. There needs to be a renewed trust in the power of God working through all of us, to bring about the transformation for which we long.

In their joint Easter Message the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem have said, “It is our prayer that the hope established through our Risen Lord will enlighten the leaders and nations of the whole world to see this light, and to perceive new opportunities to work and strive for the common good and recognise all as created equal before God. This light of Christ draws the whole human family toward justice, reconciliation and peace and to pursue it diligently. It draws us all to be unified and to be at harmony with one another. The power and resonance of the Resurrection permeates all suffering, injustice and alienation, bringing forth hope, light, and life to all.”

Well rooted in Saint Paul’s deep desire “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10) these Church Leaders are speaking a word of hope in troubled times.

With them I pray that we may know afresh the power of Christ’s Resurrection; that we who are signed with his Cross in baptism may embrace the newness of life to which he leads us and all the world.

With blessings for Easter,

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate
The Anglican Church of Canada

~ from the Anglican Church of Canada website

Easter Message from Moderator of United Church

This is Resurrection

To be an Easter people is to be those who embody that fierce, unrelenting love that says to the forces of death and hate that continue to operate today: “God is a God of love and of life, and we will be a people of love and of life.” May it be so for us this Easter. May we be a resurrection people.

~ published April 11, 2017 on the United Church of Canada’s Website

Moderator Jordan Cantwell

To view the Moderator Jordan Cantwell’s Easter message go here.

This is the transcript of the video message:

Friends, two-and-a-half months ago, a gunman walked into a mosque in Quebec City and killed six people, wounding 19 others. Something in all of us died that day.

But friends, that is not where that story ends because in the days and weeks following that tragedy, people across this country and around the world came together and formed communities of love and solidarity and resistance.

I was at home in Saskatoon visiting my family when this happened, and one of the local mosques invited the community to evening prayers. And people showed up in such numbers, it was standing room only. There were people of all faiths and no faith, of all different ethnicities and language groups, all coming together to offer words of encouragement, of hope, of support, and of resistance.

And something changed for us because more of these kinds of events have been happening ever since: a prayer vigil, an interfaith gathering for prayers and peace in the public square in front of city hall—a first for Saskatoon, as far as I know. And this is just one of many stories like this that are unfolding across this country.

Friends, this is resurrection. Resurrection is the power of love that confronts the forces that deal in death and hatred and says “You will not have the final word.”

Easter is the time in our church season when we celebrate that resurrection, and we often do it with much joyfulness and a lightness of spirit. But I am reminded that the gospel texts, when they tell the story of those who encountered the empty tomb and the risen Christ, their response in the moment was to be astounded, to be confounded—fearful even—and yet there was a spark of hope that was lit.

And from that spark they ran and told others. And from that, communities of life and love emerged. That is what it means for us to be an Easter people—to be those who embody that fierce, unrelenting love that says to the forces of death and hate that continue to operate today: “You do not get the last word. We say no. We resist. Because God is a God of love and of life, and we will be a people of love and of life.”

Friends, may it be so for us this Easter. May we be a resurrection people.

ELCIC National Bishop writes to the church

A call for prayers and solidarity following attacks on
Jewish community centres, synagogues, and cemeteries in Canada

National Bishop Susan C. Johnson writes to the church, calling on members to stand up and speak out against all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and violence, and to stand in solidarity with anyone who is feeling unsafe, unwelcome or upset following numerous attacks on Jewish community centres, synagogues and cemeteries in Canada.

 

 

March 15, 2017

Dear members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada,

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. — Ephesians 5:8–11

Grace and peace to you.

In recent weeks, I have heard about numerous attacks on Jewish community centres, synagogues and cemeteries in Canada. Many of these incidents have come in form of threats, including bomb threats, and/or damage to property. Such attacks generate fear, disrupt community and seek to divide people. They are a form of prejudice and promote prejudice.

Freedom of conscience and religion is named first among the fundamental rights of the people of this land in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Intimidation and threats against people of the Jewish faith—of any faith—is completely unacceptable. As Christians, we do not seek religious freedom that is denied to others. We support an inclusive society, open to all.

I call on the members of our church to stand up and speak out against all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and violence, and to stand in solidarity with anyone who is feeling unsafe, unwelcome or upset by these incidents.

In 2015, the ELCIC National Convention endorsed the document Welcome the Stranger (www.lutheranworld.org/sites/default/files/Welcoming_the_Stranger.pdf). In this action, we affirm that our, “faith teaches that compassion, mercy, love and hospitality are for everyone: the native born and the foreign born, the member of my community and the newcomer.” We join with people of all faiths on a journey toward peace, respect and true community. We renew our commitment to seek greater understanding and cooperation between Lutheran Christians and the Jewish community in Canada.

Let us pray:

God of peace and God of hope, we pray for safety and respect for all people. Send your spirit of healing to all who feel violated and your spirit of courage to all who are afraid. Strengthen us to stand with the Jewish community across Canada and to speak out against all forms of anti-Semitism, intolerance and violence. In your holy name we pray. Amen.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Susan C. Johnson,
National Bishop,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

~ from the ELCIC website

Remember the Refugees and Migrants

Lutheran, Anglican Leaders issue joint Ash Wednesday message

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop Episcopal Church (United States); The Rev. Susan Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

On this day many people will participate in a liturgy including the Imposition of Ashes.  Some presiders blot these ashes upon our foreheads and we are reminded that we are but dust and to dust shall we return. Others trace them upon our forehead in the sign of the cross, a reminder of the place to where the Lenten journey takes us.  Even at the outset of this holy season we are reminded that while for some the cross is a stumbling block and for others mere foolishness, it is for those who are being called, the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:23). Remembering Christ crucified we are mindful not only of our personal need for repentance and renewal in doing the work of God, but indeed of the need of all humanity to repent of our indifference to the brokenness of our relationships, to the suffering of millions of people worldwide who are starving, oppressed, enslaved, or seeking sanctuary even if it be in a place far from their homeland.

This Lent we call our Churches to be continually mindful of the global refugee and migration crises, and the injustices and conflicts that have swelled the statistics to a number greater than ever in the history of the world. We acknowledge the good work done by so many of our synods and dioceses and parishes in sponsoring refugees, welcoming them, accompanying them and advocating for them as they settle in our countries. Similarly, we commend the compassionate work of our partner churches in other lands and intergovernmental bodies caring for migrants and refugees. We call on our Churches not to weary of this good work in the name of God.

Given the current political climate in the United States, it is important to say that while both our countries recognize the need for measures ensuring homeland security, we also stand up for the long established policies that welcome migrants and refugees. That is not to say any of them are not beyond reform. But it is to say that fair and generous policies strengthen the economy of our nations and enriches the economic, social and cultural fabric of our countries – a fabric woven by both the First Peoples of these lands and all those who have settled here through numerous waves of migration throughout our histories.

Fair and generous action and deliberations are from our perspective, deeply grounded in the Law of Moses, in the teaching of the Prophets and in the Gospel of Jesus.  For some two millennia millions of people have found consolation in the suffering of Jesus upon the cross and in his holy name they have prayed for the compassion and justice of God in the midst of the terrible circumstances of their lives – circumstances that compel them to flee their homelands, making their way over dangerous treks of land. Sometimes they find refuge in new nations and frequently they make their way to ports where they can board vessels and make what are often treacherous voyages in the hope of reaching a land free of the oppression they have known.  Some make it.  Many don’t.

May this Season of Lent be especially marked by our prayers and advocacy for refugees and migrants – on the run, in United Nations camps, in waiting, in our communities… And let it be marked by a continuing resolve in welcoming the stranger in our midst, for such hospitality is in keeping with the faith we proclaim. (Matthew 25:31-40)

In Christ,

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church (United States)

~ from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada website
~ photo from Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada facebook page

Lenten Message from the United Church Moderator

Healing Relationships

This Lent, Moderator Jordan Cantwell reflects on healing our relationships with our neighbours. “For Jesus these two are inseparable: love of God and love of neighbour. They’re part of each other,” the Moderator says in her message. “So during this Lenten season I encourage each of you to think about what is one step that you can take today to bring some healing to a relationship in your life that is broken.”  Her message can be watched here.

The following is the transcript of The Right Reverand Jordan Cantwell’s 2017 Lenten Reflection:

When Jesus was asked what’s the most important of all the commandments, he said, “Love God with all your heart, your soul, your mind, with everything.” And he said, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

For Jesus these two are inseparable: love of God and love of neighbour. They’re part of each other.

And so in this season of Lent, as we focus on deepening and healing our relationship with God, it necessarily calls us to look at our relationships with our neighbours. Where is their brokenness that needs mending? And of course there’s so much brokenness in our personal relationships as well as our global relationships, which actually means that there are lots of places that we can begin to bring healing—lots of in-points to make a start at healing those relationships.

One of the places I think we really need to focus some attention on healing relationships is the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in this country, and especially I think within our church. As part of that work I’ve made a commitment to getting around to as many Indigenous communities in our church as possible, and I’ve actually just returned from two weeks in northern communities in Manitoba. Those opportunities to be with our sisters and brothers in the Indigenous church are so important for me to just listen. Going into the communities to be with people to learn about their lives, their realities, to get to know folks face-to-face—this has been an incredibly enriching experience for me, and I hope one that has been important for the whole church.

So during this Lenten season I encourage each of you to think about what is one step that you can take today to bring some healing to a relationship in your life that is broken.

May God be with us on this journey.

~ from a link on the United Church of Canada’s website

 

Time for our Annual Meetings

A Time to Celebrate and Reflect!
A Time to Plan and Select our Leadership!

Hooray!  The North Thompson Ecumenical Shared Ministry 2016 Annual Reports are ready.  They form the core of how we celebrate and reflect on the life and work of our two congregations and the Parish.  Thanks go to all those who wrote reports and prepared the financial statements and to Leslie Stirling who put the report package together and then printed and collated it.

Be sure to pick up a copy and bring it with you to your congregation and the parish meetings.

There will be three gatherings:

  • The Trinity Shared Ministry congregation will meet on Sunday, January 29th following worship at Sandra’s.  A potluck lunch will follow the meeting.
  • The Church of St Paul congregation will meet on Sunday, February 5th after the service.  The meeting will be at the Church of St Paul following a potluck lunch.
  • The third gathering will be the second Annual Meeting of the entire North Thompson Ecumenical Shared Ministry or the Parish as we have begun to call it.  In the past, only the North Thompson Pastoral Charge Board met to discuss the annual reports and to make plans for the coming year.  The NTESM Agreement that was signed September 24, 2015 and is now our primary governance document calls for an Annual Congregational Meeting of the entire NTESM.  This year’s meeting will be held at the Church of St Paul on Sunday, February 12th following a potluck lunch after the Church of St Paul’s service.  Hopefully, there will be a good turnout from both congregations!

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us

January 18th – 25th

This year’s theme was developed by an ecumenical team in Germany.  They have chosen as their theme “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us,” inspired by 2 Corinthians 5: 14-20.  They invite Christians around the world to celebrate God’s reconciling grace, call us to recognize the pain of the deep divisions which afflict the Church, and urge us to become ambassadors of Christ’s message of reconciliation.

Introduction to the Theme

Germany: The Land of the Lutheran Reformation

In 1517 Martin Luther raised concerns about what he saw happening in the Church by making public his 95 theses.  This year marks the 500th anniversary of this key event in the reformation movements, often controversial in the history of inter-church relations in Germany.  This is why the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) has invited its ecumenical partners at various levels to help commemorate the events of 1517.

After extensive discussions, the churches in Germany agreed that the way to commemorate this Reformation event ecumenically should be a Christusfest – a Celebration of Christ.  If the emphasis were to be placed on Jesus Christ and his work of reconciliation as the centre of Christian faith, then all the ecumenical partners of the EKD (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Methodist, Mennonite and others) could participate in the anniversary festivities.

The Lutheran – Roman Catholic Commission on Unity has worked hard to produce a shared understanding of the commemoration.  Its report, From Conflict to Communion, recognizes that both traditions approach this anniversary with new understandings of their own history and theology.  In 2017 Lutheran and Catholic Christians will, for the first time, commemorate together the beginning of the Reformation.

From this agreement and the wider ecumenical context emerges the strong theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity:  “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us” (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14).

The Council of Churches in Germany (ACK) and the Reformation Anniversary 2017

It was in the context of this anniversary that the Council of Churches in Germany (ACK), invited by the World Council of Churches, took up the work of creating the resources for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  A committee representing different churches met to develop the necessary texts.  A particular emphasis was placed on the preparation of the ecumenical worship service, which is intended to serve the general purpose of the Week of Prayer, while at the same time commemorating the Lutheran Reformation.

The Theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017

When the planning committee met, it became clear that the materials for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity would need to have two accents.  On the one hand, there should be a celebration of God’s love and grace, reflecting the main concern of the churches marked by Martin Luther’s Reformation.  On the other hand, the materials should also recognize the pain of the subsequent deep divisions which afflicted the Church, and offer an opportunity to take steps toward reconciliation.

Pope Francis’ use of the quote “The Love of Christ Compels Us” (2 Cor 5:14) in his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”, Paragraph 9) provided the theme for this year.  With this scripture, taken in its fuller context, the committee formulated the 2017 theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

This biblical text emphasizes that reconciliation is a gift from God, intended for the entire creation.  As a result of God´s action, those who have been reconciled in Christ are called, in turn, to proclaim this reconciliation in word and deed, living no longer for themselves, but for Christ who died for all.

Compelled to Witness

The love of Christ compels us to pray, but also to move beyond our prayers for unity among Christians. Congregations and churches need the gift of God´s reconciliation as a wellspring of life.  Above all, they need it for their common witness to the world.  May the wellspring of God´s gracious reconciliation overflow in this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, so that many people may find peace, and so that bridges may be built.  May people and churches be compelled by the love of Christ to live reconciled lives and to break down the walls that divide!

~ from the Canadian Council of Churches’ website

For more information about the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, click here.  For those who include a daily devotional time as part of their spiritual practice, you may be interested in the “Eight Days of Prayer:  Biblical Reflections and Prayers”.  For each day, scripture readings, a short commentary, some questions to consider, and a prayer are provided.

Donation to the Clearwater Red Cross Help Depot

Voices United Community Choir Representative
Delivers Cheque

Leslie Ross presenting cheques to Niki McMillan and Shirley Kochems at the Clearwater Red Cross Help Depot

Each year, the Trinity Shared Ministry Board selects a local charitable organization to receive the donations collected at the door for the Voices United Community Choir’s Cantata Presentation and the sale of DVDs and CDs of the performance.  Recognizing that many benefit from being able to borrow necessary medical equipment locally, the Clearwater Red Cross Help Depot was chosen this year.  A total of $830.95 was donated.