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Primate’s Easter Message

“Christ is risen!
Earth and heaven never more shall be the same.”

~ by Fred Hiltz, Archbishop and Primate, on April 17, 2019

Last week I invited you to pray the Litany of Reconciliation offered daily within the ruins of the medieval cathedral in Coventry.  Lying completely open to the sky, the ruins are a powerful sign of an openness to the will of God “to hold heaven and earth in a single peace”. As you leave the ruins making your way down a set of steps, you see a massive window that fills the entire “west” end of the new cathedral, consecrated in 1962. It is clear glass but etched into it from top to bottom are angels and saints dancing before the Lord. Through that magnificent work, one’s eye is then drawn to the great tapestry of Christ in Glory. The work of artist Graham Sutherland, the tapestry is seventy-two feet in height. It fills the entire “east” end of the cathedral. Christ is seated.

“The highest place that heaven affords is his,
is his by right,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
and heaven’s eternal light.”
(Hymn 491, Common Praise)

His feet bear the wounds of crucifixion. His hands are raised in a gesture of lifting the life of the world heavenward. He is “the ever Eastering Christ”, ever rising to make all things new.

By water and word he makes of us an Easter People united with him in his death and resurrection. Through bread and wine he nourishes us with his very self. He sends us into the world to live his risen life, to defy every evil course of action bent on the destruction and death of the children of God and our common home, the earth itself.

Here we see that along with the deep personal yearning as St. Paul puts it “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection”, there is a cosmic dimension to the Resurrection – one in which the old order of sin and death is overcome and the new order of redemption and fullness of life for all is proclaimed.

From the moment my eyes were drawn to that great tapestry, to walking toward and taking my place beneath it, and then stepping back and gazing at it from afar, I thought of the words of a lovely modern Easter hymn written by Brian Wren.

“Christ is risen! Shout Hosanna!
Celebrate this day of days!
Christ is risen! Hush in wonder:
All creation is amazed.
In the desert all-surrounding,
See, a spreading tree has grown.
Healing leaves of grace abounding
Bring a taste of love unknown.

Christ is risen! Raise your spirits
From the caverns of despair.
Walk with gladness in the morning.
See what love can do and dare.
Drink the wine of resurrection,
Not a servant, but a friend.
Jesus is our strong companion.
Joy and peace shall never end.

Christ is risen! Earth and heaven
Nevermore shall be the same.
Break the bread of new creation
Where the world is still in pain.
Tell its grim, demonic chorus:
Christ is risen! Get you gone!
God the First and Last is with us,
Sing Hosanna, everyone!”

            (Hymn 223, Common Praise)

Let this be our song not for one day, but all fifty of the Great Festival of Easter.

~ from the Anglican Church of Canada’s website

Moderator’s Video Easter Message

Moderator Richard Bott reflects on Easter, the resurrection

The Right Rev. Dr. Richard Bott, 43rd Moderator of The United Church of Canada
Credit:
The United Church of Canada

Moderator Richard Bott reflects on Easter, the resurrection, as a trumpet call to the church, to the body of Christ, to all Jesus’ disciples, to fantastic actions that bring life—actions that challenge and actions that make deep change.

Watch and listen to this Easter message through this link or on YouTube.

Transcript of Videotaped Message

Christ is risen!
He is risen, indeed!
Alleluia!
Alleluia, amen!

Hello—I’m Richard Bott, Moderator of The United Church of Canada.

This is a day of joy, a day of celebration! Christ is risen!

With Paul, talking to the Romans, we “know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”

In a world where death is present all the time; where there is war between nations or people somewhere all the time; where food is wasted at a horrendous rate while elsewhere people are starving; where climate change caused by us, caused by the corporations and economic systems that we have created, is killing off entire species, and threatens to do the same to humankind, the resurrection of Christ says, “No. Death has no dominion.”

The resurrection of Christ says, “Take heart. God’s love can do incredible things.”

But how, now? With a miracle?

Perhaps, but I believe that this time we are the miracle. We are the body of Christ that God is resurrecting. We are the body of Christ who must say with our very lives, “Death has no dominion.”

I think that Easter, the resurrection, is a trumpet call that calls to the church, to the body of Christ, to all Jesus’ disciples—to fantastic actions that bring life. Actions that challenge and actions that make deep change.

Actions that live life in the face of death.

Actions that say to the powers that be, “No! Death has no dominion. The resurrection not only of Christ—but of the Word—is now.

It’s Easter. It’s a day of incredible actions—God’s, and ours.

Christ is risen!
Christ is risen, indeed!
Alleluia!
Alleluia, amen!

Father, forgive

A Holy Week Message from the Primate
of the Anglican Church of Canada

~ by Fred Hiltz, Archbishop and Primate, April 12, 2019

Last week the yearning of a lifetime in ministry was fulfilled.  I was in England and had the opportunity to visit Coventry Cathedral.  I had read of its history and used its famous Litany of Reconciliation many times throughout Lent and particularly in Holy Week.  I found myself within the remains of that great medieval cathedral bombed and burned on November 14, 1940.

In the aftermath of that terrible wartime strike, the Provost of the day Richard Howard wrote, “All night long the city burned and her cathedral with her, an emblem of the eternal truth that when men suffer, God suffers with them.  Yet the tower still stood, with its spire soaring to the sky, an emblem of God’s over-ruling majesty and love.”

The next morning as the whole cathedral lay open to the sky, the Provost and a number of cathedral parishioners climbed over the rubble. In the midst, they found two charred roof beams one lying over the other in the shape of a cross. Carefully Howard lashed them together and carried them to the sanctuary, setting them up in the sight of all to see.  I wonder if in his labour, he might have had in his mind and on his heart, those beautiful words of John Bowring’s great hymn.

“In the cross of Christ I glory,
towering o’er the wrecks of time;
all the light of sacred story
gathers round its head sublime.”

Having placed the cross he then proceeded to etch on the wall behind the altar the words “Father, forgive.”  We recognize them as the prayer of Jesus from his Cross. Space restricted Howard from quoting our Lord ’s prayer in its entirety, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) But as time would have it, the simplicity of “Father, forgive” would speak volumes reminding us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  We all stand in need of redemption.

Those charred roof beams lashed together in the form of a cross, and those words etched into the sanctuary wall, would inspire the writing of the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation.  The sentence with which it opens humbles us before God. In its read of the human condition, this Litany is as contemporary as the day it was first penned.  In its brevity, it is memorable. In its simplicity, it is powerful.  The sentence with which it closes is instructive as to how we ought to live.

The Litany is prayed every day at noon in Coventry Cathedral – sometimes within the ruins of the former cathedral, sometimes within the marvels of the modern one. It is prayed every Friday at noon in cathedrals and parishes around the world that are members of the Community of the Cross of Nails.

I invite you one and all, to pray this Litany at noon (or at some other perhaps more quiet time) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in Holy Week. It may be that you pray it alone, or in the company of others. Some of you will pray it in your church. Others of necessity will have to pray it in other places.  Try not to recite or rush your praying.  Make each confession with a pause for lament and contrition of heart before uttering the plea, “Father, forgive”.  Make each confession with a deep yearning to know more fully the reconciling love of God in Christ and our calling to be ambassadors of that love.

Praying this Litany, may our hearts and minds be made ready to approach the solemnities of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday with deep devotion to our Lord Jesus who “emptied himself…and being found in human form humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2: 7-8).

(Leader is in italics.  All is in bold type.)

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
Father, Forgive
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
Father, Forgive

The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,

Father, Forgive

Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,

Father, Forgive

Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,

Father, Forgive

The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women, and children,

Father, Forgiv
e
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,

Father, Forgive

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Amen.

~ from The Anglican Church of Canada’s website

 

Lenten Lecture Series at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Kamloops

Simply Living

Although the Lenten Lecture Series concludes today, it really is not over!  The Cathedral has captured each lecture in video format and posted it to its website.

The theme this year is Simply Living, in which presenters will connect experience, wisdom, and practice in a way that will inspire and encourage people of all faiths and convictions

March 7
Rob Baker
Living with Addiction

March 14
Michael Shapcott
Living with Hunger

March 21
Jane Gingrich
Living with a new child

March 28
LeAnn Blackert
Living with Your Own Wild Soul

April 4
Ken Gray
Living with Albinism

April 11
Barbara Andrews
Living A Reconciling Life

Bill C-262 – The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

Senate Visit

On March 19 and 20, representatives of the United, Presbyterian, and Anglican churches, Canadian Friends Service Committee and Mennonite Central Committee Canada visited with Canadian senators to discuss the urgent need to pass Bill C-262 (The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act) on a non-partisan basis.

Members of the delegation meet with Senator Murray Sinclair
Credit: Sara Stratton/The United Church of Canada

Leaders were encouraged by support for the bill from non-aligned and Independent Senators. There is a clear sense among many that this bill could help provide clarity and an orderly process to develop a new relationship based on the principles of mutuality, equity, and respect—those longed-for ideals of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples that have yet to come to fruition. Others expressed the need to learn more about the bill before making a decision about support, or expressed concern that the Declaration’s inclusion of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) constitutes a de facto Indigenous veto on development projects.

~ taken from the April 10, 2019 issue of
Living Into Right Relations: Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice News
from The United Church of Canada
More information and other links will be found there.

Bill C-262 has been passed in the House of Commons and now is at the second reading stage in the Senate.  To read the proposed act, follow its progress, and read the speeches that have been made in both the House of Commons and the Senate go to the Parliament of Canada’s LEGISinfo site.  The full title is “An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples“.  This bill is one step towards following through with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

A video on Bill C-262 featuring ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson, Anglican National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald, and Dr. Beverly Jacobs provides information on the importance of passing this legislation.

Free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) is a piece of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that presents difficulties for some.  A factsheet produced by the Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples and endorsed by Amnesty International Canada, Assembly of First Nations, BC Assembly of First Nations, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), First Nations Summit, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) / Cree Nation Government, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Native Women’s Association of Canada, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and Dr. Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine (Expert Member, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues) helps explain what this means.

All three of our denominations support Bill C-262.  Both the Mennonite Central Committee and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives have developed a means for contacting senators to ask them to support Bill C-262.

Relief for Those Impacted by Cyclone Idai

Each of Our Denominations Has a Way to Respond

Note that the Federal Government is Matching Donations Until April 14th

A woman regards the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai.
Credit: Josh Estey/CARE

Canadian Lutheran World Relief

Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) has joined other leading Canadian organizations in an appeal to support over 2 million people affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The powerful storm, which made landfall in Mozambique on March 15, killed at least 750 people and has left hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.

CLWR is responding to relief efforts through its partnership in the Humanitarian Coalition, a national coalition that will raise funds to support a quick and effective response through ACT Alliance, which includes organizations on the ground in all three affected countries who are well-positioned to deliver immediate response.

As part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church In Canada’s Disaster Response Fund, $5,000 will be forwarded immediately to CLWR to assist with relief efforts.

~ Read more about the Canadian Lutheran World Relief’s response and how to donate.

Primate’s World Development and Relief Fund (PWRDF)

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality, announced today the government will match donations before April 14, 2019 to the Cyclone Idai joint appeal of the Humanitarian Coalition. PWRDF is participating in the match through Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a member of the Humanitarian Coalition.

The purpose of the match is to encourage Canadians to give generously to emergency relief efforts in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Up to three million people there are in desperate need of humanitarian aid in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai. Hundreds of people have died and survivors have been displaced, creating vulnerable situations for children separated from their families, and women and girls in refugee camps. Severe flooding has damaged water systems leading to a lack of clean water and risk of cholera and other water-borne diseases. Roads, homes schools, and crops have been destroyed.

The Fund will amplify the support of Canadians and reinforce the response of Canada’s Humanitarian Coalition and its members, which include the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. For every dollar donated by individuals to PWRDF’s Cyclone Idai response, between March 15, 2019 and April 14, 2019, the Government of Canada will provide the same to the Humanitarian Coalition, up to a maximum of $2 million.

~ Read more about the Primate’s World Development and Relief Fund’s response and how to donate.

United Church of Canada’s Mission and Service Fund

Help provide relief for those affected by Cyclone Idai.  The Government of Canada is now matching donations for Cyclone Idai relief in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

Cyclone Idai is one of the most deadly cyclones ever recorded in the region.  Up to three million people have been affected and are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

The United Church of Canada is raising funds as part of the Humanitarian Coalition Cyclone Idai Appeal, through its membership with Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

~ Read more about the Mission and Service Fund’s response and how to donate.

When the Rains Came Down

When the rains come down,
and the winds circle around,
it can be cause for joy,
God of all creation.

But, when the winds are so high,
that they rip roofs off of homes,
and the water pours down in torrents,
there is no joy,
only loss
and death.

We pray for those killed
when Cyclone Idai battered
Mozambique, Malawi & Zimbabwe.
We pray the survivors,
clinging to trees and high places,
away from the high waters,
waiting for rescue.

We pray for those who are doing
all that they can,
with the resources they have,
to save as many as they can,
knowing that they need more,
to help more.

We pray for those grieving,
the deaths of those they love and
the loss of livelihood and home.

May help come, and may it come quickly—
that safety would be found,
and rebuilding would begin.
We pray, loving God,
that we might respond,
with all that we have, and who we are,
out of our security and our abundance,
to be a world that helps,
now,
and in the days to come.

We pray for Mozambique,
We pray for Zimbabwe,
We pray for Malawi
their people,
their land,
their life.

Amen

— A prayer in response to Cyclone Idai by the Right Rev. Richard Bott, Moderator of the United Church of Canada

Emotions Abound Upon Hearing the News of the Shootings of Muslim Worshippers in New Zealand

On March 15th, news broke of shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.  We join with people world-wide in expressing our horror and grief.  Individually and collectively, we pray for all those that have been impacted by this event.

Credit: Zora Kokanovic/Unsplash

Denominational Responses

All three of our denominations have responded.

United Church of Canada

On March 15th, the United Church of Canada posted the following:

The United Church of Canada strongly condemns the horrific attacks by a suspected White nationalist on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019. At least 49 people were killed and another 48 injured in this act of terrorism while Muslim worshippers were at Friday prayers.

The people of the United Church are deeply saddened and many are weeping alongside the families and friends of the people who were killed and injured. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes: “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:15–16a). People in the United Church are joining with people around the world in mourning the lives of the innocent victims lost in this abhorrent attack.

The United Church recognizes Islam as a religion of peace, mercy, justice, and compassion and has affirmed that the church wants to journey towards reconciliation, understanding, and cooperation with our Muslim neighbours. The church is deeply committed to working with Muslims and others for peace and justice for all humanity and to seeking ways to build right relationships among us.

~ Continue reading here.

As well, Moderator Rev. Richard Bott shared the following prayer on his facebook page on March 15th:

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
In Christchurch.
At worship.
At prayer.

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
For one reason:
because they were Muslim.

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
Hundreds grieving the death of family and friends.
Thousands even more afraid
for their loved ones and for themselves.

Forty-nine people murdered.
More than forty others wounded.
Because of fear, turned into rhetoric,
turned into anger, turned into
white supremacist hatred.

It is time to pray.
It is time to act.

It is time to stand, together,
to counter acts of hatred,
large or small,
with acts of love;
to counter acts of hatred,
wherever we encounter them,
with all that we have and all that we are;
to counter terror
with God’s peace.

Grieve.
Pray.
Act.
Love.

And my prayer, this day?
God… help us to do so.

Anglican Church of Canada

Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, posted the following on March 15:

Our hearts are aching for Muslims across our country and around the world in the wake of the massacre of so many faithful Muslims in the midst of their Friday prayers in Christchurch, Aotearoa-New Zealand.

We hold in our prayers today, and in the coming days, those who were killed and their grieving loved ones.

We also remember and pray for all those who were seriously injured, those who tend them, and those who responded to this crisis on the ground.

We pray too for the Muslim community in Quebec City, knowing that this tragedy will revive the horrors of the attack at the Grand Mosque in January 2017, and the murder of six worshippers who had just concluded evening prayers.

~ Continue reading here.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

On its facebook page, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada posted this message on March 15th:

A prayer from our National Bishop as we receive with shock the news of the attacks that occurred at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

God of consolation,
We mourn the two mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch. We pray for the victims, the injured, their families, and all who are now afraid of further violence. Strengthen us to stand with our Muslim neighbours against all forms of Islamophobia and to work to end gun violence.
Amen.

On March 19th, National Bishop Susan Johnson wrote an open letter to Muslim friends in Canada and Muslim neighbours in New Zealand.  She concludes the letter with these words:

I am inviting every community in our Church to embrace our Muslim sisters and brothers; to stand with our Muslim neighbours against all forms of Islamophobia; and to consider how we might reach out to one another in our communities, in gestures of support and human solidarity.

In times of shock, horror, and difficulty, people of faith look to the God of mercy for comfort, strength and hope. It is God’s steadfast presence and love that leads toward healing and restoration of spirit that helps us to choose the ways of peace.

The nurturing of interfaith relationships and respect for persons of other faith communities is of the utmost importance as we seek to worship and follow the God who always remembers and cherishes each of God’s children.

~ Read the entire letter or access it on the ELCIC website.

The Pacific Mountain Regional Council of the United Church of Canada

The following letter written to our Muslim brothers and sisters by Rev. Blair Odney, President Elect of the Pacific Mountain Regional Council, was published on the Pacific Mountain Region’s website:

March 15, 2019

In the absence of our President, the Reverend Jay Olson, who is out of the country, I write to you, on behalf of Christ’s people in the Pacific Mountain Region of the United Church of Canada, with a broken heart. We share a common practice; to gather in community, on the Sabbath, to give to the God who animates all life, our devotion, our praise, our commitment, our lives. And in the doing, we each pray for healing in God’s world, that all may live in peace and justice. Today, we watched in horror as your brothers and sisters in faith, in Christchurch New Zealand, gathering for Sabbath worship were assaulted by violent gunfire, killing 49 faithful followers, injuring 20 more. With sighs too deep for words, our hearts ache with you.

When fear and anger visit the earth with such a rampage, the whole world suffers. Faithful people of all traditions will assert this is not God’s way. This is not God’s intention. This is not consistent with our common call – to love God, and to love and serve our neighbour. While you mourn, we mourn. While you pray for healing, we will pray for healing. While you seek justice and God’s grace, we will seek justice and God’s grace. May our loving action bring us closer to a lasting compassion and peace.

We offer our deepest condolences.
S. Blair Odney
President Elect,
Pacific Mountain Regional Council
United Church of Canada

 

Lutherans Connect 2019 Lenten Devotional

Journey for Justice

Begins March 6th

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/39943768@N00/32776510916

Many of us would love to spend more time in spiritual practice than we do, but often find it hard to make space for it in the day-to-day challenges of our lives. In Lent, we are especially encouraged to make sacrifices or ‘fasts’ to help draw us into the deeper meaning of the story of Jesus’ time in the wilderness.

In the spirit of our previous Lenten and Advent online devotional projects, Lutherans Connect invites you to make space in Lent for reflection every day. To assist you we will offer a daily meditation, bringing together scripture readings, poetry, music and reflections, from a range of ecumenical traditions. They will be posted each morning on Facebook and Twitter — and new this season, Instagram!

Our theme this Lent is ‘prophetic imagination’. How do the visionary experiences of the biblical prophets and the prophets of our own time help to call out injustice and inspire us to work for change? Framing our journey with the Saturday prayers on Twitter of ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson, we will visit parts of the world where a prophetic imagination is helping to transform the lives of a community. At the same time, we will ask ourselves how we too can imagine a different world. What are the small and large ways that we can transform lives?

Jesus divided his time between ministry, teaching and healing — and time spent in the mountains in prayer. While we are exploring the injustices of the world, we will also take time to retreat into the places where we too might take time away to reflect on our relationship to God. Using the Google Trekker application, we will journey to places where (at least in a virtual way), we can wander into spacious wilderness spaces of God’s creation.

A final theme will be one of justice pilgrimages. Taking a spin on the idea of the solitary distance walker, we will imagine the contemporary justice march as a form of ‘pilgrimage’. What are some of the ways that communities coming together have shown solidarity in their push for justice? Where in the world has a small or large walk or march brought awareness to the conditions of those who are marginalized or disadvantaged? How can we show our support for them? And perhaps even organize one?

Let’s find out together. Join us March 6th for forty days until Palm Sunday April 14, exploring journeying for justice. And may God’s nourishing love bless you this day and always.

~ from the Lutherans Connect facebook page

The devotional can be accessed either on the Lutherans Connect facebook page or through the blog.